The Local Government Minister has signalled her intentions to appoint a commission to address "significant governance problems" at Tauranga City Council.
Nanaia Mahuta confirmed in a statement today the council had been advised of her intention to appoint a commission in response to "significant governance problems among the council's elected representatives and the findings of an independent review."
"I have been closely watching the conduct of the council for a number of months. I have grown increasingly concerned at the governance issues, and the impact this has on Tauranga ratepayers and significant investment in the region," Mahuta said.
"The council was given the opportunity to address the concerns, but has demonstrated that more direct action is needed."
Tauranga City Council has 10 working days to respond to the minister's letter of intention, which will be considered before a final decision is made.
"For the ratepayers in Tauranga, I know certainty is important. I am keen to make a decision quickly so that Tauranga can get on with its critical planning and investment," Mahuta said.
As the process is ongoing, no further comment will be made, the statement said.
Tenby Powell resigned as Tauranga mayor last month with Tina Salisbury instated as acting mayor.
Salisbury said the council would respond to the notification by December 18 and anticipated that the Minister would make a final decision early in the new year.
She said that if the appointment was confirmed, a commission would take over all matters relating to governance, effectively replacing and taking the role of the council's elected members.
"Our community can have confidence that council's full range of essential services and activities will continue to be delivered professionally, effectively and without interruption," she said.
"That will include progressing the preparation of our critical 2021-31 long-term plan, ready for consultation with the community early next year."
Local Government New Zealand's National Council supported Mahuta's decision, saying it was a tough call that put the interests of the community first.
LGNZ President Stuart Crosby said there was disappointment in the local government sector that such drastic action had to be taken, but it was a lesson that dysfunctional behaviour wouldn't be tolerated because it undermined faith in the local democratic process.
"Fostering a culture of good local governance is ultimately the collective responsibility of all elected members, and while the decision to remove the democratic representative tier of a council is never taken lightly, when it does it is appropriate that accountability is shared," Crosby said.
"LGNZ looks forward to the restoration of full democracy in New Zealand's fifth biggest city by population once these issues have been resolved."