The number one issue at my Monday meetings continues to be widespread dissatisfaction and anger at the Auckland Council's rates rises. My constituents are telling me they are struggling to cope with staggering rates increases and the unsustainability of these rises is really taking its toll on people with fixed incomes.
It's timely that my select committee, Local Government and Environment, is currently dealing with the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill. This long overdue reform of local government aims to make councils more accountable for rates rises and to focus their attention back to their core roles - providing local infrastructure, public services and regulatory functions in the most cost-effective way to households and businesses.
We've received 472 written submissions on the Bill from individuals and organisations, and I've been to Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton to hear more than 260 oral submissions.
Several local body authorities are welcoming the proposed changes and are already managing their spending responsibly.
The message from ratepayers is that they need to know their council is spending its money wisely on services that matter to them.
Ten years ago council roles were expanded into promoting social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeings, but some submitters believe the four well-beings have distracted councils, and led to wasteful spending and worsening indebtedness.
Along with rates rises, debt has been climbing, and judging from the mood of the people I've seen, I'm sure this will be a dominant issue during the 2013 local body elections.
In the past few weeks I've also been hearing oral submissions on the Climate Change Response Amendment Bill which is working its way through my other select committee, Finance and Expenditure.
The main focus has been on the Emissions Trading Scheme and many submitters are concerned about the Bill deferring the obligation of agriculture to enter the ETS in 2015.
I believe the deferral makes sense because no other country has put a price on biological emissions.
As always, if you have any issues that I can assist you with please get in touch with my electorate office team by calling 486 0005 or emailing NorthShore@parliament. govt.nz
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