Ratepayers prefer community boards

ZARYD WILSON
Last updated 12:12 12/10/2012

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Turning Rangitikei's two community boards into committees would save ratepayers money, but the people they represent want the boards to stay.

The Rangitikei District Council yesterday heard submissions on its proposal to scrap the boards.

Submissions, including petitions from both areas, largely supported the status quo.

Ratana Community Board deputy chairwoman Audrey Williams said the people of Ratana felt strongly about keeping the board. "They are happy for it to carry on and they are happy to pay for it," she said. "It's not about money, they just want to keep in touch with the council."

A petition from Ratana had the backing of Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene, who said both he and the Ratana community wanted the board to stay. Submissions from Taihape followed the same line, with only two of 51 backing the switch to committees.

Michael Abraham pointed out in his submission that Taihape was the second biggest urban area in the district and with most council activity and staff in Marton, Taihape warranted a community board to represent the people there.

Mayor Chalky Leary felt people has misunderstood the council's intention and said committees performed essentially the same role and would ensure communities kept their voice.

"We believe the community committees will provide all the benefits of the boards and will save our ratepayers money," he said.

The Ratana Community Board costs each of its ratepayers $182 a year to service, a total of $11,635. Taihape Community Board costs about $28,962 a year to run.

A report to council cites low candidate numbers, as there have been at recent board elections, as another reason for abolition of boards because it results in meaningless polls.

Community boards are slightly more formal than committees, established under law, with paid members elected in local body elections.

Community committees, however, are set up by the council, with members elected by the community following local body elections. Its members are not paid.

The district currently has community committees in Marton, Bulls, Turakina and Hunterville.

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- Manawatu Standard

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