Objections to plans to reduce the number of people elected to Tauranga City Council are expected to be heard today.
A Representation Review hearing will be held at Tauranga City Council from 11.15am, in which 18 people are expected to have their say.
The review sets out the structure of the democratic arm of the council, which is traditionally made up of a mayor and councillors elected by the community to their respective roles.
In August, council commissioners agreed to adopt an initial proposal of reducing the number of councillors to a total of 10 elected members, including the mayor. Eight would be elected from suburb-based general wards and one by voters on the Māori roll.
The representation model was released for feedback, prompting a total of 139 submissions. Of these, 71 (51 per cent) agreed with the initial proposal, and 76 (48 per cent) disagreed.
Some of those who disagreed are scheduled to speak to their views in today's hearing. This includes Citizens' Advocacy Tauranga chairman Rob Paterson who has already said in his submission that he opposed the ward system and that all councillors should be elected at large.
The framework that shapes the city's existing council set-up has 10 councillor positions and one mayoral role. The councillors are broken into three wards (Mount Maunganui/Pāpāmoa; Ōtumoetai/Pyes Pa, and Te Papa/Welcome Bay) with two councillors each. There are also four councillor roles at large, meaning they are representative of the whole city.
These options were put to the community for feedback earlier this year, resulting in 825 responses. The two wards model with 10 councillors received the most support with 274 votes. The potential of establishing community boards also received feedback, with 374 respondents voting against the idea compared with 312 for and 130 unsure.
Last year, Tauranga's councillors were discharged from their duties and commissioners were brought in following a tumultuous series of events that prompted Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta to intervene. This came after the resignations of former mayor Tenby Powell, councillor Heidi Hughes and councillor Jako Abrie.
While the city's elected members can no longer act in an official capacity while commissioners are in charge, they retain their titles.
Today's meeting is open to the public, under Covid-19 alert level 2 restrictions, and will be live-streamed and available on the council's website and YouTube channel.
A representation review addresses:
• The total number of councillors appropriate for the city;
• Whether councillors are elected from wards or by a mix of both wards and "at large" (across the city);
• The boundaries of wards and their names;
• Whether there should be community boards and, if so, the number of boards; their names and boundaries; the number of members for each board including any appointed members; and whether the board area should be subdivided for electoral purposes.