Editorial: Council amalgamation

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Will it ever happen?

That continues to be the $64,000 question when the subject of amalgamating the three district councils operating in Wairarapa is up for debate.

The answer still seems a long way off.

None of the local bodies has, to my knowledge, discussed the matter at any length around their council tables.

And when they do you can take it for granted that those pushing the amalgamation barrow will be working overtime to convince the detractors that change of such mammoth proportions needs to occur.

Even with their best efforts it would be no surprise to find them struggling to reach the numbers necessary to move any proposal of that kind into the public domain.

This is simply because councillors will be wanting to be absolutely sure of a positive outcome for their own ratepayers before committing themselves to any significant change.

Yes, it is true they also need to look at the bigger picture of what amalgamation could mean for the region as a whole but when you have been elected to represent the best interests of those living within your own boundaries it is them who will come first on any priority list.

What makes the determination of the three councils even more important is that the end results of their discussions are likely to play a huge part in the final outcome.

Human nature dictates that when the topic being discussed is as involved and bogged down in stats as amalgamation will be people are more inclined to let those who have been elected to largely do the thinking for them do exactly that.

And human nature also dictates that if the decision arrived at has an adverse effect on their pockets they will yell blue murder and accuse the decision-makers of foul play.

It could be that rather than go down the amalgamation path councillors will see greater value in the enhancing of the shared services concept, meaning that many of the services which are delivered by each of the councils will come under the one roof.

If cost cutting is the aim of the exercise then that approach would seem to have a lot going for it and it would also mean the concerns about the councils losing their own identities should amalgamation occur - and some of them are wildly speculative - would be largely erased.

Plenty of food for thought and plenty of time needed to devour it.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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