Northlanders will pay more than $16.6 million towards regional economic development under a Northland Mayoral Forum joint councils' plan.
The proposal will see Northlanders paying the money to boost regional economic development agency Northland Inc and the sector.
District council ratepayers will be major new funders, their annual payments increasing by roughly 65 per cent over six years between 2021/2022 and 2026/2027.
Northland Regional Council (NRC) is currently Northland Inc's major annual funder – along with a Whangārei District Council (WDC) operating grant.
The plan means Northland's district council ratepayers will pay $4.8 million over six years, payments split as follows - WDC 51 per cent, FNDC 36 per cent and Kaipara District Council (KDC) 13 per cent.
WDC ratepayers will pay $2.478 million, Far North District Council (FNDC) $1.745 million, KDC $629,000 alongside NRC's $11.7 million.
FNDC and KDC ratepayers will be contributing for the first time. WDC ratepayers have already been paying towards Northland Inc, but their payments will increase.
The plan starts in July next year – but Northland ratepayers will have their say on it during each council's pending public consultation on 2021-2031 long term plan production.
Northland Inc got $1.8 million from NRC in the 2019/2020 financial year. This will increase to $3.473 million for 2026/2027.
NRC and FNDC councillors have already voted in favour of it. WDC and KDC councillors will decide this month.
Councils' annual payments will go to an investment growth reserve (IGR) that in turn pays Northland Inc from its dividends. The IGR can also be used to support wider economic development beyond Northland Inc.
If the plan is adopted, Northland Inc will become Northland's first joint council controlled organisation (CCO) for economic development. It's currently solely a CCO of NRC. CCOs are accountable to the community for their use of ratepayer funds.
District councils will join NRC to become shareholders in the plan. There will be a formal joint governance committee. Councils will choose directors and have a say in economic development work.
New Northland Inc offices in the Far North and Kaipara are proposed.
A 2017 Northland Inc performance review recommended strengthened joint-council arrangements across the four councils with all providing direction and recommending board appointments.
Kaipara District Mayor Dr Jason Smith said the new model would be an improvement.
Results of Northland Inc's economic development work had been geographically variable to date
Felicity Foy, FNDC councillor, said it would be good to see the new councils' CCO being "Northland Inc" instead of "Whangarei Inc", as was currently the case.