Just 500 signatures needed for super-city referendum

JOEL MAXWELL
Last updated 15:36 01/02/2013

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Kapiti Observer

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Opponents to any super-city final proposal would need as few as 500 signatures to spark a regionwide poll on its future.

The revelation on how easy it would be to force a referendum came yesterday as Kapiti Coast District councillors were updated on progress from a super-city working party.

Council chief executive Pat Dougherty said a poll would be sparked by 10 per cent of voters in any affected district: about 2000 for Kapiti, but only 500 for Carterton.

A super-city would cover a population of about 450,000.

Councillors at the meeting approved $35,000 for amalgamation work that includes researching the possibility of a unitary authority for Kapiti.

The council was forced to look at the option to avoid losing control of its soon-to-be metered water to a partly private service provider called a council-controlled organisation.

Mr Dougherty said the working party's single-city model covering the region would mean no need for council controlled organisations (CCOs).

However, a proposal for three councils - mooted by the Hutts and Wairarapa, would mean CCOs would likely be needed for regional services such as water and transport.

A CCO is a company that delivers a service for a council, which controls 50 per cent of its votes, or appoints 50 per cent of directors or trustees.

Kapiti has its own water supply, but Porirua and Wellington - its amalgamation partners in a three council model - are supplied by Greater Wellington.

At the meeting Grey Power spokeswoman Betty van Gaalen warned about the costs for Kapiti of becoming a unitary authority - taking on the district and regional council services.

She asked whether Kapiti people are aware of the cost implications of taking on the regional council roles.

This includes managing the use of natural resources, flood control, pollution control, transport planning and biosecurity.

''I recognise the need to protect our unique standing orders, which protect the water supply. But it is important that the community understands the extra responsibilities plus the share of debt that would accrue to a unitary council should the regional council be disestablished.''

Meanwhile Mr Dougherty said the four councils involved in the working party, Wellington, Porirua, Kapiti and Greater Wellington Regional Council, are working on a communication plan for the region on its findings.

This would likely include advertising in print and radio, a common website, and advertising on Facebook and Google.

The councils would hold public meetings and roadshows fronted by mayors, chairs and councillors, followed by a telephone survey across the region, he said.

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He said the communication plan would be jointly funded by the four councils.

The working party aims to have a super-city proposal ready for submission to the Local Government Commission by the end of April.

The information would be put out next month, with each council consulting on the proposal over March and most of April.

Legislation passed in December, allows any person, group or council to propose amalgamation.

The Local Government Commission would consider applications then release a final proposal, which could be rejected if the referendum is triggered.

See www.kcdc.govt.nz for full report to councillors on working party progress for the January 31 council meeting.

REFERENDUM

Q: How many people could be needed to spark a referendum of the final super-city proposal?

A: 500. A petition by 10 per cent of enrolled voters, gathered in a 60-day time frame from any of the affected council areas, would trigger a poll. This would equate to 500 signatures from Carterton.

Opponents would need to gain at least 50 per cent support in the poll to sink the proposal. Costs would be split over the affected councils.

- Kapiti Observer

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