Questions, questions, questions
This blog post is a number of questions posed by one of our members.
Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.
What case studies are amalgamation proponents basing their arguments on? Not Auckland: not mentioning deamalgamations in Australia? A dated solution to a problem that they have not yet stated?
At the Carterton meeting, Lynn patterson gave a long list of matters that Masterton district council are struggling to deal with. Why does Masterton seem to be the only ones raising about struggling with such issues? Is it because they are bigger and so their systems are more complex so they are harder to change?
The five to ten year lag
Why will it tkae at least five to ten years to get any benefits? Five to ten years is a lot of time for bedding in. The whole legislative and local environment could change within this time. Look at how much it has changed in the last ten years. Smaller councils have simpler structures so can adapt more readily to change, at less expense.
What are the potential cost blowouts? Did the councils ask LGC what went wrong in Auckland? After all it was LGC's proposal. What has LGC done to mitigate something similar happening, in Wairarapa? eg computer cost blowouts.
In the LGC proposal they have indicated already an expense of amalgamation in the 2016/17 year. What do those figures represent? Does that mean that we are already lumped with a bill for LGC expenses to date? If amalgamation goes ahead, who pays for LGC costs to date, and in the coming months? If it does not go ahead who pays?
Have any of the councils looked at the Canterbury model? Where there is effective collaboration, which does not bring the "risks and pain" that people mention. This option would also retain existing local democracy.
Bigger better? What about local democracy?
The amalgamation proposal seems to try to argue that bigger is more efficient and effective. That is yet to be proven. . But there seems to be very little importance placed on the retention of local democracy. it is said that community boards will effectively replace the existing smaller councils.Some want to see if the powers of the community boards could be pumped up. To what level? At what level does it get to the stage that it would be more effective to just retain the existing councils?
BERL Report showed the bigger MDC ranked well below SWDC & CDC
Why in the BERL 2013 local govt performance report did Carterton and SWDC rank above Masterton council? Did anyone in the Masterton council look into why they were ranked well below Carterton and SWDC? This does not seem to be an indication of bigger being more efficient, and delivering better results.
What are we really getting? The devil is in the details.
With LGC saying the transition body is making a lot of the decisions we are going to be polling on amalgamation vs status quo without any idea really of the shape of the community boards, powers they possess, etc. Why not have a potential transition body make those decisions before we go to a poll? Then, at least, we know what we are voting for.
Is the Wairarapa community leading the change or the LGC?
Why does the transition body have to report to LGC? Does that mean LGC can veto any decisions made by the transition board that it does not like?
Increase in voter apathy?
There was greater voter participation in SWDC and Carterton than Masterton in the last local body elections. With declining voter turnout, isn't there the risk of increasing voter apathy? People are more likely to vote if their vote has a more direct effect on the result.
Does an extra layer make for more efficiency?
Under this new model there are more paid representatives (including council and all the new community boards). There will also be an extra layer between the Carterton and the SWDC voters. How is that more efficient and effective?
What will happen to representation, accountability and accessibility?
Will access to presentation to the council get less accessible, once the community boards are in place. Will there be some issues that you want to present on, that are going to be limited to a Community Board hearing? CDC allows submissions of up to ten minutes. GWRC allows a couple of minutes but only on subjects that they are covering at that meeting. Where will the new amalgamated council fall between these to two models? Will there not only be a reduction in democracy, by reducing the number of councils, but also the accessibility to the full council to have your say?
In-house services or outsourcing?
Are all the councillors prepared to stand by retaining as much services in-house as possible? And where possible bring services back in-house? The danger of getting bigger is that there is then a case made for CCOs, which starts down the road of privatisation. Wellington, as well as other councils, are trying to bring as much back into the fold as is politically possible. By doing this council maintains control of quality and ensures that workers are not undervalued; as well as emergency work not being exposed to exorbitant charges by private contractors.