Amalgamation has already started, bit by bit.
Recently I received a message at work that the Nature Coast Enterprise was going to be split up, and funded separately by the Kapiti and Horowhenua District Councils "because of local government reforms", or words to that effect.
The Dominion Post has raised the clarion call of amalgamation necessity.
Whenever I was asked as mayor about SuperWellington I said it was a good idea, but there needs to be informed and enthusiastic debate, and that ratepayers and voters need to be involved.
Successful amalgamation can come about in a number of ways:
zBeneficial dictatorship, as in Auckland. Appoint a royal commission, get their findings, and use them as a door stop as Rodney Hide did, as minister of local government in 2008-09. The professional staff will make it work.
zCollaboration and metamorphosis - as district health boards are doing under Tony Ryall. Quite cunning and effective it is too.
Or, the real juice, the secret is to give local communities and cities what they are now getting and even better.
Make the super city a goal of promise, not a punishment of uncertainty and higher costs.
Let the current cities come up with their bottom lines, give the mayoral forum until September 30 to agree on these, and advise the cities that the next election will be along the super city line.
The cities then need to be involved in it all and not just watch it happen like a slow train wreck.
Some suggestions as to what may be in the bottom line:
- SuperWellington to be based on the present Wellington City Council.
- Abolish the regional council. It is divorced from normal people.
- Retain all present staff and work through re-organisation over the next three to five years. Reduce staff if need be during this time.
- Establish a financial strategy for at least 10 years, with agreed maximum rate increases and a strong debt strategy.
- Promise to maintain and improve infrastructure.
- Retain the democratic bodies initially as local/district committees, as a super council of 20 cannot cope with 450,000 people by itself.
- Enrich local communities, definitely do not take away local identity.
- Establish the budgets for the image, activity and quintessence of the new capital and its profile, and its cultural, scientific, sporting and business life.
- Work with government to improve the health, education, housing and economic wellbeing of Wellington citizens.
- Work with government in partnership, as the capital of a great country.
I like the Nike motto: "Just Do It!"
- Hutt News