Unitary authority report commissioned

WALT DICKSON
Last updated 12:16 08/02/2013

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After several months of telling ratepayers they cannot predict the financial costs of a Wairarapa Unitary Authority, the three councils have commissioned a report to look at the viability of the preferred option.

The report has been commissioned as a result of some of the feedback that the councils have had from residents, said a council official.

The report is expected to be completed by the end of February with results made public in March.

Wellington-based consultancy firm Martin Jenkins is carrying out the assessment at a cost of $51,000. The Jenkins report is in addition to the $360,000 already spent by the three councils on the Wairarapa governance review since work began in 2011.

The first round of feedback on the future governance of Wairarapa closed on Monday with a working party comprising representatives from Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa district councils backing a unitary authority.

Despite calls to slow down the process, mayors of the three councils said they have no option other than to press on with their governance review work.

The reason, they say, is that a regional working party had already announced its application for a region-wide super-council would be ready to submit to the Local Government Commission in April.

In a joint statement last week Wairarapa mayors Adrienne Staples, Ron Mark and Garry Daniell said it would be "irresponsible for the Councils' Working Party to just sit on its hands and leave Wairarapa's fate in the hands of others."

Wairarapa needed to work quickly to ensure "alternative options" were researched and considered by the public, so they could be submitted within the commission's 20-day time frame.

"Many people do not seem to understand that the wording of the Local Government Act gives us virtually no control over the timing," the statement said.

Monday's feedback deadline was not the end of the consultation process.

"There's a long way to go yet. As while there is pressure on the Wairarapa councils to meet any deadlines imposed by an expected application for a super-city, there will still be further consultation with the public".

The Local Government Commission is required by law to consult with the public after proposals are submitted to the commission and before any final re-organisation scheme is determined. There is also the opportunity for a poll on the Local Government Commission's preferred proposal if sufficient people petition for a poll.

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- Wairarapa News

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