Community boards could be on the way out in Matamata-Piako District in a move that could trim $100,000 from its budget.
As part of a required representation review, the district council voted at its meeting this week to disestablish the boards. With three councillors away, the vote was 5-4 in favour of the proposal.
The matter will now go out to public consultation and, if unopposed, can be adopted by the council. A number of submitters said community boards are unnecessary given that the district already has ward representation. Others thought boards are largely representative of the towns and that there needs to be more rural representation, and some were not aware of what community boards do or thought them ineffective.
Te Aroha Community Board said the boards are kept very busy with local issues and the current system is working well. "If there were no community boards there would be a management gap in the system of public representation."
Chairwoman Mary Massey was not surprised by the council proposal. "They never wanted us and never liked us."
The Morrinsville board believes it is working very effectively as an advocate for the community. The board plays a role that is independent from council and councillors and believes they complement council rather than merely reducing its overall workload.
Chairwoman Ann Linstrom was "not totally surprised" by the council move. "We are accessible. Councillors are very busy."
Mayor Hugh Vercoe said although there will be a saving of about $100,000 a year, this was not the sole reason for the proposed removal of boards, with cutting duplication among the 24 representatives in the district a goal.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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