D-Day has arrived for Masterton District councillors who are expected to vote today on a draft submission rejecting the Wellington Super City concept.
The councillors are known to be split on the issue but the submission prepared by chief executive Pim Borren, which is to be put to a special meeting today, categorically rejects the notion of joining forces with all other councils in the wider Wellington region, thereby allocating Wairarapa a maximum of two councillors and setting up a raft of local boards.
It claims surveys have shown the residents of Masterton district do not want a single large council and see Wairarapa as being distinct from Wellington.
The submission, which if passed will be forwarded to the Local Government Commission (LGC), talks of "clear interdependencies" between Wairarapa and Wellington.
"We are keen to see Wellington perform even better in terms of growth and economic development because we see spin-offs for the Masterton district.
"However, we are not one labour market, not one catchment and not one community of interest."
The wage gap would make paying Wellington salaries in Masterton unaffordable, the Ruamahanga catchment was different from Hutt and Wellington and Masterton was a rural and provincial community and economy "not large metropolitan" with different transport and infrastructure needs.
According to the draft submission, a Super City would not be a cost-effective way to deliver local government services, was undemocractic with one "or less likely two" councillors from Wairarapa on the 21-member council and there was no evidence to show Masterton would benefit either economically or socially.
The draft submission claims Masterton District Council (MDC) was open to change as shown by a proposal to "amalgamate across Wairarapa" and that opposition to a Super City was not about council members or staff being biased in terms of their own jobs as those would also be "at risk" through the preferred amalgamation within Wairarapa.
There was a "genuine belief " it was in the interests of Masterton people to be governed locally and not to be lost in a bigger, central Wellington bureaucracy "which has little knowledge of rural, provincial New Zealand".
The draft rejects the commission's suggestion there would be long-term savings through economies of scale if a Super City was set up.
"The proposal does not attempt to estimate these in any way and provides no supporting evidence.
"International evidence suggests there are few, if any, economies of scale in local government services."
Auckland's Super City had failed to supply any evidence of economies of scale.
Three options are seen as remaining open to MDC, including the setting up of a Wairarapa Unitary Authority which was rejected by the commission, on the grounds it was unaffordable.
The draft argues this was hard to understand as four other unitary authorities in New Zealand, each with similar populations to Wairarapa, have all proven to be viable.
On the thorny issue of public transport subsidies, the draft submission claims MDC was not clear on what the subsidy was worth "because we cannot get that information from Greater Wellington Regional Council."
It would expect to still be able to negotiate funding with the regional transport authority if a unitary authority was set up as all public transport was subsidised to help cut congestion costs and roading network pressures at peak traffic times.
"Also, it is clear Wellington city businesses receive the benefit of a commuter workforce from Wairarapa."
A second option would be combining Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa district councils and retaining Greater Wellington Regional Council with all its existing responsibilities or alternatively setting up a separate Wairarapa Regional Council alongside, but distinct from, the combined district councils.
Option three would be maintaining the status quo.
Apart from considering the draft submission to LGC, councillors today are also being asked to support a submission prepared by Hutt City Council which contests the Super City proposal.