As I posted on a week or so ago, the government is in the process of putting some rules around what councils can and can’t do. Today they announced a whole bunch of changes to the Local Government Act 2002, see here on Stuff.
1. The Local Government Act 2002 will be amended to replace references to the ‘social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities’ (the four well beings) with a new purpose for councils of ‘providing good quality local infrastructure, public services and regulatory functions at the least possible cost to households and business.’
2. The Local Government Act 2002 will be amended to provide, by way of regulation, fiscal responsibility requirements in respect of income and expenditure, and prudent debt levels to be developed in consultation with Local Government New Zealand.
3.1 The Local Government Act 2002 will be amended to empower councils to set policy on the number of staff to be employed and overall remuneration policy. Councils’ annual reports will be required to include information on staff employed by salary bands.
3.2 The Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 mayoral powers in respect of appointing deputy mayors, establishing committees, appointing committee chairpersons and proposing plans and budgets will be extended to all mayors from October 2013.
3.3 The Local Government Act (2002) is to be amended to provide a simpler, graduated scale of intervention linked to new fiscal responsibility requirements ranging from the request to provide information, to have a crown reviewer, observer or manager; or in extreme circumstances, commissioners or an early election.
4.1 The Local Government Act 2002 will be amended to streamline consideration of reorganization proposals and to extend the criteria to specifically include the benefits to be gained from simplifying planning processes and efficiency improvements.
4.2 The Local Electoral Act 2001 will be amended to give councils and the Local Government Commissiongreater flexibility in the determination of ward boundaries in rural areas to take into account communities of interest.
5. A Local Government Efficiency Taskforce will be established in consultation with Local Government New Zealand to review the planning, consultation and reporting requirements of the Local Government Act 2002 to report to Government by 31 October 2012
6. The Productivity Commission will undertake a review of the balance of functions allocated to local government by central government and ways to improve regulatory performance in the sector by April 2013. The Government will then, in consultation with Local Government New Zealand, develop a non-statutory framework for guiding decisions on which regulatory functions are best undertaken by local and central government.
7. Local government infrastructure provisions will be investigated by an expert advisory group to look at how good quality infrastructure to support a growing economy can best be delivered at least cost.
8. The Government will undertake a review of development contribution policy following the publication of the Auditor-General’s report on councils’ long term plans later this year.
Wow, is all I can say! If they half of this it will make things soooo much better dealing with councils. And about time too.
No longer will they be responsible for running the community, they will be responsible for providing good quality services at the lowest cost possible.
And just look at number 8. Development contributions may be reviewed! We can only hope they’ll be reviewed downwards!
Update: And now Nic Smith has gone and resigned! Aaaaaggghhh! Just when things look like they’re going to be sorted, the minister pushing it is forced to resign! Will have to wait and see if Gerry Brownlee, the new minister for local government will undertake the same reforms.