Government piles pressure onto new councils

The New Zealand National Party

Increasing regulation from Central Government is set to cause a headache for newly elected local and regional councils, and increase costs on ratepayers, National’s Local Government spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“In the coming weeks, councillors will be sworn in around the country. They put themselves forward with noble intentions of serving their local community, but in reality will face ballooning costs and a mountain of complex legislation to work through.

“National supports cleaning up our waterways, but the Government’s freshwater reform and three waters review are both highly problematic for regional councils. They will have to go through phases of consultation, analysis and hearings in order to overhaul planning processes over the next three years.

“The weight of new national standards and tight development controls will be felt strongly by councils who will be forced to pass on additional costs to unsuspecting ratepayers.

“Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has admitted that the freshwater reform and three waters review will be ‘very challenging’ and will bring ‘cost pressures’ to councils, but is still pushing forward with another regulation to make councils identify and report against a series of wellbeing targets for every decision made.

“These wellbeing targets aren’t even known as of yet, with yet another expensive working group being assembled to come up with them. This is all coming at a time when combined council debt sits at around $16 billion and rates are going up disproportionally to income and far outstripping the rate of inflation.

“Councils are also grappling with how to manage tourism pressure, economic development and rising sea levels, which all come on top of their day-to-day service delivery.

“The new crop of councillors have a whole range of issues to contend with and unfortunately their job will be made that much harder by a Government intent on shifting costs and regulatory burden onto their shoulders.”

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