Mayors say no need to merge

AUDREY MALONE
Last updated 05:00 13/06/2014

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South Canterbury's mayors see no merit in amalgamating the district councils, especially as all three are performing well financially.

A study released this week showed the councils had rates lower than the national average, and favourable debt levels.

The Local Government Commission is investigating possible council mergers around the country, particularly Hawke's Bay, Northland and Greater Wellington.

Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley believes South Canterbury has the right formula already, and any changes should be ratepayer-driven.

"It needs to be driven from the bottom up. I wouldn't like to see any central government action forcing us into amalgamation."

He said amalgamation cannot even be backed up by the prospect of it being cheaper. "We have yet to see any cost savings from the Auckland super city."

Rowley said the Timaru, Mackenzie and Waimate district councils had a good working relationship. The neighbouring councils were collaborating on services, including roading.

He said the statistics in The Timaru Herald on Wednesday backed up another reason why amalgamation should be off the cards. "All three councils are doing a pretty good job at the moment."

Timaru District Mayor Damon Odey said the councils had a good collaborative working relationship.

"The key word for us is collaboration, not amalgamation," he said.

Mackenzie District mayor Claire Barlow said when she was elected she never saw a need to amalgamate.

But she believed the councils needed to work more closely.

Barlow said each district had its own values and identity and to amalgamate would be disruptive.

"Why fix what isn't broken?"

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- The Timaru Herald

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