Dargaville & Districts
The Government is stepping in to assist the financially troubled Kaipara District Council.
Local Government Minister David Carter is setting up a review team to help the council make crucial decisions.
"It has become apparent the Kaipara District Council is dealing with some serious issues that it cannot cope with alone," he says. "The council has sought help from central government and the wider local government sector.
"We have agreed to work with the council and Local Government New Zealand to set up a small team to assist Kaipara to work through its issues."
Mr Carter says the council would continue with consultation and hearings to adopt its Long Term Plan by the end of June and set its rates for the 2012/13 financial year. The review team will assist council to set rating levels.
Continuing to borrow to pay interest and operating costs is simply not sustainable, he says.
Mr Carter says the review would not affect the Auditor-General's investigation into the Mangawhai Community Wastewater Scheme.
Kaipara mayor Neil Tiller, chief executive Steve Ruru and deputy mayor Julie Geange went to Wellington to speak with Mr Carter about options.
The announcement was a late addition to the monthly council meeting agenda with several councillors saying members of the public knew about the private meeting before they did. However the decision for a review team was approved.
Mr Tiller says the assistance asked for and provided was not financial, and despite what some people may think central government was not going to bail the council out.
"The debt is ours and we need to find a way of repaying that debt which recognises the community's ability to pay and is sustainable. No one else is going to pay this debt on our behalf."
An announcement on the review team members and the terms of reference would be made as soon as possible.
Northland MP Mike Sabin welcomed the announcement. "The status quo in Kaipara is unacceptable. Cost blowouts and skyrocketing debt are hurting Kaipara ratepayers."
The announcement is a step in the right direction, Mr Sabin says.
- © Fairfax NZ News