Councils dispute application info

KERI MOLLOY
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2013

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Information provided by the Far North District Council in its application to become a unitary authority is wrong say Whangarei District Council staff.

But Far North Mayor Wayne Brown is standing firm.

A letter from Whangarei chief executive Mark Simpson and support services manager Alan Adcock to all Whangarei councillors, accuses the Far North council of including inaccurate information in its application to the Local Government Commission.

"Their application makes a number of references to WDC that we have concerns about; including our position on local government reform and our debt profile."

It picks out a paragraph, reading, ‘FNDC wishes to be frugal and to minimise debt levels while WDC has a desire to increase its debt levels to build a number of community projects such as the Hundertwasser Arts Centre and the Hatea River Bridge crossing'.

The letter says Whangarei's 2012-22 Long Term Plan has the council's debt remaining level, not increasing.

Of more concern, they say, is a statement in the application that FNDC has worked collaboratively with the Whangarei District Council to develop a regional structure that recognises two unitary authorities that will continue to collaborate to deliver a number of shared services and initiatives.

They say this is wrong.

"Council resolved in October that staff should work with all elected members to identify options for more detailed analysis, with public consultation and a report back to council for approval. No work has - or will be - done on a submission until that consultation is complete," they say.

Mayor Wayne Brown last week refuted all points.

"With regard to the debt, the Whangarei District Council debt has risen dramatically over the past three to four years and officials have stated they want to carry on with projects such as the Hundertwasser building and the Hatea Drive bridge, in spite of the downturn - whereas my council has deferred a number of projects and paid back some debt.

"We have been working with Whangarei's elected officials since Stan Semenoff's mayoralty and subsequently met with Minister Nick Smith and the current mayor of Whangarei, who has supported our application. I have a letter to that effect. Plus we have addressed, on formal occasions, the Whangarei council and elected officials have given us full support - though their staff may not have," Mr Brown said.

The Whangarei District Council says that a letter of support for process of reviewing the sector and seeking efficiencies and improvements is not ‘an indicator of support for or opposition to any application by Far North District Council'.

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