Merge for better management, says report to three councils

By Amie Hickland

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An amalgamation of the three Wairarapa councils is the most effective option for the region, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The report was commissioned earlier this year by a working party of the three councils to consider a range of options for future governance.

The report was discussed by all councillors on Tuesday at the Carterton Events Centre, before being made public. It found a Wairarapa Unitary Authority or a Wairarapa District Council would be the most effective and efficient arrangement for the region of the five options investigated.

It also concluded that more details should be investigated around the cost, benefits and risks of each option, although both of the recommended options are seen as more cost-effective in the long-term.

The main benefit of a Wairarapa Unitary Authority would be "the improved ability to manage across all of the well-beings of its community and in particular the economic and environmental well-beings".

A Wairarapa District Council would be "a larger organisation likely to be better able to cope with ongoing demands to fund infrastructure as it will have an increased rating base ...

".

In a joint statement, Carterton mayor Ron Mark, Masterton mayor Garry Daniell and South Wairarapa mayor Adrienne Staples said local government change in the Wellington region was inevitable in the short to medium-term because legislation to be introduced into Parliament this month would require more effective and efficient councils.

"Wairarapa communities of interest now have the chance to be masters of their own destiny and take part in deciding the best local government option for their future," the statement said.

"No decisions have been made and we've still got more work to do in understanding the cost implications of the various options. Once the three councils have had a chance to discuss the report at their meetings over the next week we will agree on the next steps which will include a process to hear the views of Wairarapa residents on the various options. In the meantime, we welcome initial comments or feedback on the report."

The report, which was undertaken by Morrison Low at a cost of about $100,000, is available at council offices, libraries and on council websites.

Greater Wellington Regional Council commissioned a similar study, although Wairarapa councils declined to take part.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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