New government rules that will allow councils to work more closely together without losing their autonomy have been welcomed by the Rotorua Lakes Council chief executive.

Local Government Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga this week announced reforms to the local government sector to enable councils to deliver better services for ratepayers.

Current local government structures limit the ability of 78 councils and 66 water authorities to work together to provide services and critical infrastructure.

Council chief executive Geoff Williams said the new package was about "freeing up an ability for councils to tailor their services in the most efficient way, which is a great concept".


"They are also making sure there is a retention of local control focusing on how we deliver services, rather than questions of governance."

Mr Williams said apart from BOPLASS (Bay of Plenty Local Authority Shared Services) Ltd, councils in the region had made big savings on things like joint insurance policies.

BOPLASS is a company owned by the the district councils in Rotorua, Western Bay, Kawerau, Tauranga, Opotiki, Whakatane, Taupo and Gisborne, as well as the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

It promotes shared services between councils in the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne regions and elsewhere.

"We, for example, have a joint insurance policy that's shared across multiple councils that has substantial annual savings for us compared with if we went to get these policies alone."

The council also shares a website platform with the Hamilton City Council.

"We're also using a company called LeapThought, a collaboration portal for councils, the idea being if councils are thinking of doing something with their finance system or doing something different for roading ... we can identify options where we can do things together."

He said tourism was another key example where local organisations worked closely together. "The bid for last year's Trenz conference was a truly joint Bay of Plenty bid."

Better Local Services package
- Enables innovation and collaboration in local government to deliver better local services and infrastructure
- Councils will have greater flexibility to collaborate to deliver services to their region
- New processes for council-led reorganisations rather than a single Local
Government Commission-led option.
- Amore proactive role for the Local Government Commission
- Improved service delivery and infrastructure provision at the local level
- Improved performance and efficiency gains will result in better value for money for ratepayers