The Future For Local Government (F4LG) report was released late last month.
It might have significant ramifications for you and your council and community boards, it might sit on a shelf, or a future government (whatever parties it consists of) may pick the bits out that suit its political views and ignore the rest.
The report came because the LG sector asked for it to happen.
There were a few things that kicked this off.
First, how we do things hasn’t changed in 30 years, so a look under the bonnet is well overdue.
Second, reforms imposed on local government such as Three Waters and Resource Management Act reforms will, if implemented, take away a sizable chunk of what we do, and that led to questions as to what roles we could take up in place of those or failing that, since our operations would be significantly smaller, if we needed to talk about reorganisation or amalgamation in some cases.
And thirdly, many of us in local government know the system we operate under is broken.
We need new sources of funding to go alongside rates (that’s pretty obvious given our 11.2% average rise in Central this year), public interest is low and slipping as evidenced by our 46% voter turnout rate at last year’s election, and there is a fair argument that the sector doesn’t serve all its people well.
A panel was convened by Government to undertake the review back in 2021.
Its membership consisted of a former long-serving council chief executive in the chair, a former Auckland City deputy mayor as well as another senior leader from that city, a resource management specialist and a former chief executive of several government departments.
After a lot of talking with a lot of people and a lot of thinking and discussion, the panel came out with the 132-page report backed up by an 800-page technical report, all boiling down to 17 recommendations. These can be summarised as:
Embedding local government’s role and purpose in law.
Creating a genuine Treaty partnership at local government level.
Strengthening local democracy and leadership.
Increasing funding and System renewal.
There is a lot in the report that has got some people excited with a lot of the noise from what I have observed coming from the minority that the present system serves well.
Where it goes from here is anybody’s guess, but the worry for me is that it will sit on a shelf and leave the local government system in our country to bend until it breaks, or that the bits some in central government like will be utilised and other crucial bits, such as that very central government paying rates on its land will be conveniently ignored.
Only time will tell.
And on an entirely different subject; good luck to the Alexandra Armadillos senior men’s rugby team as they take on the Upper Clutha Rams in the local final on Saturday.