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Region survives serial secessionism

by | 1 Dec 2017 | Local board, Regional governance, Regional parks | 2 comments

Pūhoi River and Wenderholm spit

Sublime Gift of Regional Governance: Simple-minded secessionist nostrum that breaking away will provide back-to-basics local government, ignores the complexity inherent in any metropolis and its hinterland. The regional parks gift enjoyed by today’s 1.3 million Aucklanders, beginning with the purchase of Wenderholm 52 years ago, is testimony to the need to think and plan regionally, regardless of governance structures. print Long White Cloud Art

Serial attempts to turn the clock back six decades have failed, and deservedly.

For without regional governance, Aucklanders would be much the poorer, for example, 27 sublime regional parks poorer.

It would also lack a cohesive planning mechanism to cope with the region’s latest growth projections—doubling to a troubling nearly 2.6 million by 2043. Meanwhile, it will be no surprise to those who have any comprehension of huge range of expertise and services that unitary authorities are legally obligated to deliver, that the ratepayers a northern Rodney unitary authority, serving only 24 000 people, would have needed to stump up an estimated additional 20–27% for rates, and for transition costs on top of that.

Meanwhile, despite being assessed as a reasonably practicable option, Mahurangi Action’s proposal for two local boards to replace the current Rodney Local Board, the commission opted for the status quo:

The Commission considered that an additional local board in Rodney was unlikely to improve the existing local government arrangements in the Auckland Council area or result in efficiencies overall, due to the additional cost and uncertain benefits.

Population per local-board member chart

One Size Does Not Fit All: in respect to the ratio of population per local-board representative, there were always going to geographically dictated outliers, including Great Barrier and Waiheke islands. The Kumeū–Kaipara and Tamahunga local boards, proposed by Mahurangi Action, with five members each, would more closely resemble Franklin Local Board, which has nine members. The Local Government Commission costed a northern local board of six, up from the four members currently representing the area, whereas five, the minimum allowed, as on Great Barrier and Waiheke, would have been reasonable and, along with utilising existing Warkworth Town Hall infrastructure, would have been considerably less costly than the $1 million-per-year cost cited as the reason to deny the geographically extensive Mount Tamahunga area its own local board. chart Mahurangi Magazine, adapted from Auckland Reorganisation Process – Auckland Options Assessment
Local Government Commission | Morrison Low

The additional cost was estimated to be $1 million per year. Whether that figure was highballed—including for six local board members where there are now four, whereas five would be ample—is now immaterial, given that the opportunity for a fresh Tamahunga Local Board to become an exemplar in local representation has been denied, possibly for the want of the fulsome support of Rodney’s existing local board and its ward member, much less Auckland’s mayor. Meantime the option went largely unreported the local mainstream media, more at home fanning the flames of super-city discontentment—this, despite the option being mentioned at least 35 times in the decision paper, including:

An additional local board in Rodney is considered affordable as Auckland Council would still have the resources necessary to enable it to carry out its responsibilities, duties and powers.

It is 12 years since the then mayor, John Law, explored the possibility of then entire Rodney District being a unitary authority, only to find it would result in a massive rates blowout. It is now more than time for the small-minded notion to be relinquished in favour of working with, and strengthening, regional governance.

And a great opportunity to get on with issues that do matter is Warren Maclennan’s Warkworth Town Hall Talk, on 14 February, the working title of which is:

Planning a remarkable Mahurangi town

Because while the region’s population might be doubling by 2043, that of Mahurangi’s tidehead town is set more than quadruple.

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