Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

Govt to replace councillors of indebted Kaipara Council

Kaipara District Council. Photo / Supplied
Kaipara District Council. Photo / Supplied

Four government-appointed commissioners will replace elected councillors of the heavily indebted Kaipara District Council.

Kaipara's debts total $80.7 million including about $60 million for the Mangawhai sewerage scheme, prompting the council to propose a 31 per cent average rate increase, which outraged ratepayers.

Local Government Minister David Carter said there had been a review of the council by a government-appointed Kaipara Review Team.

The council requested the appointment of independent commissioners earlier this month after being briefed about what was in the review team's report.

Mr Carter said the team had identified that serious governance and financial challenges facing the council were beyond the councillors' ability to resolve.

"The Government's decision to appoint four commissioners reflects the significant workload ahead in rebuilding the relationship between the Council and the communities of Kaipara.

"It is likely the commissioners would be required until 2015. For this reason, the Government proposes to defer the 2013 election for Kaipara District Council until October 2015."

The commissioners appointed are former National MP John Robertson as chair, Richard Booth who is the chair of Delta Produce and the Northland Dairy Development Trust, Colin Dale, former Manakau City Council chief executive, and Peter Winder, former chief executive of Auckland Regional Council and Local Government New Zealand.

Last week it was reported that the former chief executive of the council, Jack McKercher, had received severance payments totalling $240,000 when he quit.

Mr McKerchar, 61, was chief executive when the council illegally struck rates and was also at the helm in the lead-up to its debt blowout.

He had refused to discuss whether he contributed to the council's poor financial health.

- APNZ

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