Rotorua's mayor is backing Local Government New Zealand against a Bill that would see the government force regional council-controlled organisations on districts to manage assets or services without community input.
The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2) includes provisions that would give the Local Government Commission the power to create council-controlled organisations (CCOs) without the agreement of councils or communities and set mandatory standards for council services.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said in a press release the move could lead to increased costs for ratepayers.
"We need to reserve the right for our council to do what's best for the Rotorua district, rather than being dictated to by a regional entity that has been forced on us and we want to ensure communities are consulted on these big decisions."
She supports the stand being taken by Local Government New Zealand which will appear before a Select Committee tomorrow to present its concerns.
"While CCOs can be an effective way to deliver some services, their establishment should be at the discretion of the councils concerned," she said.
"We share the Bill's aim to improve council services, but local councils need to retain the right to make decisions about how local assets should be managed. Decisions need to be made closest to the people affected by those decisions."
She said the Bill's provisions were "unacceptably heavy-handed" and "goes against strong local democracy and empowering communities" and a survey on local government reform commissioned by the Rotorua Lakes Council last year showed Rotorua residents were not against efficient, effective shared services, but wanted decisions to be made locally to ensure local interests were maintained.
"Forced regionalisation of services will also jeopardise strong local relationships which are focussed on securing a strong future for the district.
"Neighbours will help each other where there is a win-win and we are keen to explore opportunities for shared services but regionalising decisions won't necessarily result in what's best for our community," she said.