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Improvements ahead for councils and ratepayers alike.

Local Government Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has recently announced further reforms to the local government sector to improve the service delivery and infrastructure provision arrangements at the local government level. Read the Beehive release here.  

The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2) (Bill) is part of the Government's reform programme to enable an efficient and productive public services sector.

The reforms include more flexibility to collaborate and develop shared services; reorganisation processes that can be locally led and driven; and greater use of joint Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs) for providing services, with improved accountability tools to safeguard local democracy. This Bill provides for a broader range of functions to be transferred between local authorities and joint governance arrangements for areas of common or shared interest.  

Current arrangements limit councils’ ability to adequately respond to and provide for regional and sub-regional economic and population dynamics, while remaining responsive to local preferences. As a result, some services are provided sub-optimally because of lack of scale, integration, and strategic oversight across local government jurisdictions.

The Commission and communities have expressed concerns that the reorganisation process in the current provisions is weighted towards amalgamation. The process is out of line with community preference for and acceptance of smaller scale and more targeted change that achieves efficiencies without weakening local representation.

The amendments would provide significant opportunities for local government to make efficiency and effectiveness gains in the areas of water, transport and economic development in particular.

The Bill also provides discretionary powers to the Local Government Commission to decide what investigations it will undertake for local authority reorganisation. The Commission will have to follow statutory guidance for reorganisations which includes the use of polls.

These amendments tie in with other Government initiatives to address broader national challenges including reforms to the Resource Management Act 1991 (find out more here) and the recently announced proposed National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity (find out more here).

Submissions on the Bill close on Thursday 28 July 2016. If you would like to talk with us about the Bill or need help with your submission, please contact one of the team.

Julia McKeown, Solicitor
Wynn Williams

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