Kāpiti councillor Gwynn Compton has urged the local government review to "come up with bold ideas to tackle the systemic issues facing the sector and for all options to be on the table including amalgamations".
Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has announced an independent review of local government which would focus on how the country's system of local democracy needs to evolve over the next 30 years.
"I have asked the review panel to consider what local government does, how it does it, and how it pays for it," Mahuta said.
"From there, they will explore what local government's future looks like, including roles, functions and partnerships, representation and governance, funding and financing.
"I am expecting them to report back to me on their findings in April 2023."
Compton said local government was at "breaking point" so he was rapt "to see the need for systemic reform is being taken seriously".
"With big reforms like Three Waters and the Resource Management Act set to radically change local government, having a concurrent process for reviewing the role, structure, and financing of local government to ensure it's fit-for-purpose in a post-reform world is vital.
"This review means we can start having conversations with our communities and mana whenua about how we best address the challenges we're collectively facing.
"We need to reimagine local democracy in Aotearoa and I urge the review to be bold when it comes to making recommendations on what the future of local government looks like."
One specific area where councillor Compton is urging the review to be bold is around the possibility of council amalgamations.
"With centralisation of water services in the pipeline and planning regionalisation being drawn up through the new RMA framework, council amalgamations must be on the table.
"We need to ensure local communities have elected representation and accountability at the point where key decisions are being made, as well as having councils that are large enough to be effective and efficient in meeting the needs of their communities.
"Likewise, over the past decade we've seen Auckland's amalgamation — a process started by the fifth Labour government — transform the city's fortunes."
Meanwhile in Wellington, the region has struggled in comparison with the numerous attempts at voluntary co-ordination across the region being plagued by an inability to deliver a coherent strategic vision, let alone tangible results, he said.
"For example, what happens in Wellington City has a direct impact on the Kāpiti Coast, and will do even more so once Transmission Gully opens.
"Having a joint committee, with no powers sitting over the top of nine councils, plus Horowhenua District Council, to deal with the region's growth is a stop gap solution.
"Amalgamation absolutely needs to be on the cards given the challenges facing the region and benefits we've seen it bring for Auckland."
While councillor Compton called for a different type of inquiry via a Royal Commission, he's encouraging those wanting local government reform to grab this opportunity with both hands.
"The scale of challenges facing the sector are so immense that we need to make the most of this opportunity.
"I encourage everyone who wants better local government and democracy in Aotearoa to get involved."
The review panel includes chairman Jim Palmer and John Ombler QSO, Antoine Coffin, Gael Surgenor and Penny Hulse.