The Wairoa District Council is located on Queen Street, Wairoa, next to Coronation Square
Monday - Friday: 8am to 4:30pm
(Except public holidays and unless otherwise notified.)
Napier City Council, Central Hawke's Bay District Council and Wairoa District Council have joined forces to provide key information about amalgamation and why it is not the answer to a better Hawke's Bay.
Dropping into our region's letterboxes this week is a booklet highlighting the issues and arguments around the debate and why amalgamating the Hawke's Bay councils is not the answer.
Look out for your copy of the booklet in your letterbox, or view an electronic copy of Amalgamation Is Not The Answer brochure here.
Please visit the Local Government Commission page for specific information relating to Hawke's Bay Reorganisation.
Wairoa District Council and the Maori Standing Committee have made submissions to the Local Government Commission on the draft proposal to create one Hawke's Bay Council.
Following hearings, the Local Government Commission has four options:
Central Government have indicated that changes are set to take place in the way Local Government is organised. This could mean changes in representation, responsibilities and how Councils currently operate.
In the interests of keeping the Wairoa community informed, we wish to share all information as it comes to hand.
DRAFT PROPOSAL FOR REORGANISATION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN HAWKE'S BAY
The Local Government Commission has released its draft proposal for reorganisation in Hawke's Bay.
The highlights are:
One council and one mayor who could speak with one voice for Hawke's Bay.
A layer of boards empowered to represent distinct local communities.
The new Hawke's Bay Council would replace Wairoa District Council, Napier City Council, Hastings District Council, Central Hawke's Bay District Council and Hawke's Bay Regional Council. It would also include a small area of Rangitikei District.
Nine councillors would be elected from five wards to ensure region-wide representation. The mayor would be elected at large by all Hawke's Bay voters.
The Council would have five community boards with 37 elected members. The wards and community boards would share the same boundaries. Their proposed names are Wairoa, Ngaruroro, Napier, Hastings and Central Hawke's Bay.
The views of the large Māori population would be heard through a standing council committee (Māori Board) comprising representatives nominated by local iwi and elected members of council. The existing Māori committee dealing with management of natural resources would be retained.
Hawke's Bay Council's administrative headquarters is initially proposed be in Napier City. There would be council offices in Wairoa, Napier, Hastings, Waipawa and Waipukurau.
Existing council debt and financial arrangements would be ring-fenced for at least six years to the communities which incurred them or benefit from them. Current regional assets would be transferred to Hawke's Bay Council.
Hawke's Bay Council would be a unitary authority, combining the functions of city, district and regional councils. It would have a total of 47 elected members: one for every 3,286 people (excluding the mayor). Under current arrangements there are 57 elected members: one for every 2,852 people.
More information can be found below and on the Commission's website - http://www.lgc.govt.nz/
UPDATE - 6 March 2015
Commission reaffirms ring-fencing decision
The proposal to ring-fence the debt and financial assets of four councils in Hawke's Bay has been reaffirmed by the Local Government Commission, after a number of concerns were raised in a letter from the Chief Executive of Napier City Council (NCC).
The original decision was announced by the Commission on Friday 27 February. On Monday 2 March the NCC Chief Executive contacted the Commission by phone to raise a number of specific issues about the decision, and followed this with a letter on Tuesday 3 March.
The concerns related to the contents of a report on council infrastructure prepared by MWH, a global engineering consultancy. MWH prepared the report based on information supplied directly by the councils and from their publicly available planning documents. MWH advises that it had repeated communications with the councils during the preparation of its report.
Nevertheless, the Commission asked MWH to review the concerns raised by the NCC Chief Executive. MWH has now advised the Commission it stands by the information in the report, its approach, methodology and conclusions. The Commission has released a letter from MWH setting out that agency's position.
The Chair of the Commission, Basil Morrison, said that in light of the assurance from MWH, the Commission is satisfied it based its decisions on the best available information.
“MWH and Napier City Council have used different methodologies and asset valuations to derive their figures. Local government infrastructure renewal and asset valuation is a highly complex area, a point made recently by both the Office of the Auditor General and Local Government New Zealand”, Mr Morrison said. “MWH reject the suggestion that ‘their facts are out by nearly $1 billion.' ”
The MWH report released last week also commented on these complexities. It noted on page 25 that there are variations between councils in the way they fund the renewal of their assets, and there may also be inconsistencies between the way a single council may apply these approaches.
Another report, the Waugh report prepared for Napier City Council, noted on page 22 that “under NCC's current renewal funding methodologies, rates will need to increase substantially in the future to meet the renewal needs. An alternate approach would be to use debt funding…In either case it is possible that the cost of replacing existing assets will fall disproportionately on future ratepayers rather than today's ratepayers”.
“Infrastructure renewal is a looming issue for most councils across New Zealand,” Mr Morrison said.
“Even if the Commission was to use the Napier methodology and resulting figures, the decision to propose ring-fencing of assets and debt would remain valid. It is based on the fact that each council, and their ratepayers, is starting from a different position. There is an issue of fairness that must be recognised. The relative debts and financial assets of each council was an issue which generated significant comment and debate during submissions and hearings on the draft proposal.”
Mr Morrison said the Commission stands by its decision to propose that debt be ring-fenced to the area where it was incurred, and to ring-fence financial assets as well. The arrangements would continue till 2021, in the event a new council was formed in 2016.
This means that until July 2021, the loans raised by the current district and city councils would continue to be serviced and repaid by their current ratepayers. Those councils' current financial assets would be used for renewing and replacing infrastructure in their areas, to address the differences in infrastructure life. The remainder of any outstanding loan balances after 2021 would be addressed by the new council.
Mr Morrison confirmed that a planned survey by the independent research company Colmar Brunton would go ahead.
“The survey is seeking feedback on the whole proposal for local government reorganisation in Hawke's Bay. The ring-fencing proposal is just one aspect of that reorganisation. The results of the survey will be weighed up with all other relevant information before the Commission makes any decisions on its next steps,” Mr Morrison said.
Local Government Commission | Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua
+64 4 460 2235 | +64 21 940 278
email@example.com - www.lgc.govt.nz - www.dia.govt.nz
UPDATE - 11 March 2015
Review validates concerns about LGC report
An independent review has validated Napier City Council's concerns over the methodology and conclusions used in a recent Local Government Commission report on Hawke's Bay's infrastructure assets.
The review shows the council's financial position is +$60m rather than -$45m as purported in the LGC report.
Chief executive Wayne Jack again called on the LGC to recall their error-ridden report.
“All the people of Hawke's Bay want are accurate figures. LGC need to acknowledge they've got it wrong and they need to do something about it. This is not about politics, it's about facts.”
Concerned at the way the roading network data had been used, the NCC asked specialist infrastructure management company AECOM to review the report.
“The LGC report suggests our assets aren't in good shape. We know for a fact they are and we will not stand by and let LGC try to suggest otherwise in order to push their case for amalgamation,” Mr Jack said.
The AECOM review confirms the value of land under roads and their formation should not have been used in the LGC's analysis as there is no requirement to replace or renew these assets.
While the ratio of current value to replacement value can be used as a high level indicator, care should be taken in interpreting those results particularly when there are different compositions of networks, the review said.
The review also noted the amount required to obtain an equitable position is extremely sensitive to any inputs, therefore any small change can result in a significantly different financial position. It also highlighted that no consideration given to the on-going operating and maintenance expenditure, nor the levels of service that will result in different costs to the Local Government communities.
Mr Jack said his council were also concerned the LGC were now suggesting the proposed amalgamated ‘Hawke's Bay Council' use financial assets until 2021 to pay for renewals and replacements when there are other funding sources available. This implies that funds held by councils for community projects would be diverted for asset replacements.
“The local community should feel aggrieved with this proposal as it has had no opportunity to provide feedback to the commission regarding its significant change in approach,” he said.
For further information contact: Robyn McLean, Communications Manager, Napier City Council.
P: 06 8344144 I M: 021 848481 I E: firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE - 27 February 2015
Decisions on debt and assets of Hawke's Bay councils
The Local Government Commission has confirmed its decisions on how to treat the debt and assets of Hawke's Bay councils, in the event they are formed into one council for the region.
In late 2013 the Commission proposed that the debt of each of the four city and district councils should be ring-fenced to the area where it was incurred, for six years after the transition to a new council. It has since undertaken a detailed financial analysis of council debts and assets, both now and into the future.
The analysis has established that all councils are in different financial positions, in relation to their debt and also to the condition of their core infrastructural assets.
As a result, the Commission has confirmed its original decision to ring fence debt, and it now also proposes to ring-fence financial assets. The arrangements would continue till 2021.
This means that until July 2021, the loans raised by the current district and city councils would be serviced and repaid by their current ratepayers; and those councils' current financial assets would be used for renewing and replacing infrastructure in their areas to address the differences in infrastructure life.
The Commission Chair Basil Morrison said the financial review had been a useful exercise. “The Commission is now able to share more detailed information with the people of Hawke's Bay about the implications of transition to one council”, Mr Morrison said.
“Both debt and the state of core infrastructure must be considered alongside each other to get the full picture of each council's actual financial position and future liabilities. These are important considerations for the Commission and for the residents and ratepayers in each area.”
“The financial analysis was based on information provided by each council and from scrutiny of their public documents and reports. It confirms that each council begins at a different starting point in terms of debt and assets.”
The analysis showed Hastings and Central Hawke's Bay councils have higher levels of debt than Napier and Wairoa councils, but their infrastructure is in relatively better condition. In practical terms this means that Napier and Wairoa will need to invest more to maintain and renew core assets in the future, in order to equalize the condition of infrastructure across Hawke's Bay.
“This decision is about ensuring fairness between the ratepayers of each part of the Hawke's Bay in the event our proposal for one Hawke's Bay Council was to proceed, given that each council is starting from a different financial position. We make no comment or judgement about the condition of infrastructure of any existing council”, Mr Morrison said.
The Commission has looked for ways to ensure ratepayers across the four councils are treated equitably, without undermining the eventual need to move to one rating system for the region. It therefore proposes to ring-fence financial arrangements from the start date of the new council (1 November 2016) for five years, to 2021.
Basil Morrison said ring-fencing means that loans raised by the current councils would be repaid by their current ratepayers, through a targeted rate in those areas. Equally, the current financial assets in each council area would be used to renew and replace the infrastructure in those areas, to bring the standard of assets up to the regional average.
In summary, the analysis showed that:
Following the announcement of this decision, a survey is planned to provide the Commission with an understanding of the public's views on the Commission's proposal for a single Hawke's Bay council with five local boards.
The Commission will not release the results of that survey until a binding poll is held or the process has been completed. “The Commission is mindful not to impact on the public's participation or voting behaviour in a poll, or create confusion among the public about the status of any survey undertaken on our behalf”.
“The purpose of the survey is to assist Commissioners to understand the views of the public and the degree to which our proposal has support before we make our next decision in the process”, Mr Morrison said.
Core infrastructure assets: roading and bridge networks; water supply, wastewater and stormwater systems.
Depreciated replacement value: the value of replacing an asset, less the depreciation that has been accumulated against that asset. Also known as residual value.
Gross financial assets: council investments and monetary holdings that can be immediately and practically realised or converted to cash, e.g. term deposits, bonds, and shares in publicly listed companies. This does not include physical assets such as buildings or properties.
Internal borrowing: where a council borrows for immediate projects from its own reserve accounts or investment accounts. Councils undertake to repay these borrowings.
Net financial assets: gross financial assets, less internal and external borrowing.
Local Government Commission | Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua
+64 4 460 2235 | +64 21 940 278
email@example.com - www.lgc.govt.nz - www.dia.govt.nz
UPDATE - 17 November 2014
Revised position on Hawke's Bay local government
The Local Government Commission has announced a revised position on the best structure for councils in Hawke's Bay. It has also spelled out its next steps for testing the level of community support for change.
The Commission completed public hearings into its draft proposal for reorganisation in June. Since then it has held further discussions with affected parties, and Parliament has amended legislation which directly affects the original reorganisation proposal.
The Commission Chair Basil Morrison says the ongoing discussions have informed and influenced the Commission's views.
“The Commission has now revised its position on some key elements of the proposal,” Mr Morrison said. “We are adding an extra step to our processes by releasing additional information to update people about the best way forward.”
The Commission has produced a position paper to explain how the proposed reforms could change if it decides to proceed through further stages.
The position paper suggests a number of changes, including:
The Commission will engage an independent research company during the first quarter of 2015 to test public support for the revised position through a survey across the wider region. It also plans to circulate information more widely to Hawke's Bay households.
The Commission is not calling for further submissions or embarking on a new round of hearings as a result of the position paper.
“The earlier round of public submissions and hearings were valuable and helped the Commission to fine-tune its position”, Mr Morrison said.
Once this interim step is complete, the Commission will decide whether to issue a Final Proposal of some sort or to leave the status quo arrangements in place. Hawke's Bay residents and ratepayers still retain the ability to trigger a referendum on any Final Proposal.
“The Commission appreciates the ongoing co-operation and assistance provided by councils and other affected parties in Hawke's Bay as it works towards identifying the structure that best promotes good local government in the region”, Mr Morrison said.
First quarter 2015
The Commission releases its position in respect of existing council debt and how this should be treated if reorganisation of local government in Hawke's Bay was to proceed.
Following this, an independent survey of residents is conducted across Hawke's Bay and small areas of Taupo and Rangitikei Districts to gauge the level of support for the Commission's revised position on reorganisation.
By end of March 2015
The Commission weighs up all information and statutory considerations and makes a decision on whether or not to issue a final reorganisation proposal. The most likely options are to EITHER:
March – April 2015
The Commission releases its decision. If the decision is for a modified final proposal, the public notice would include advice of the opportunity to demand a poll on the final proposal.
April – June 2015
Up to 60 working days is provided for 10% or more of affected electors in the district of a territorial authority to demand a poll on the final proposal.
If no valid petition is received, the final proposal would be implemented by an Order in Council establishing a transition body to work with the Commission to prepare the required reorganisation scheme. The transition board would appoint an interim chief executive and begin the steps to establish the new council.
July – September 2015
A poll would be held after any successful petition. (If a successful petition is received in less than the 60 working day period, the poll would be held at a commensurately earlier date.)
If the poll supports the final proposal, the final proposal would be implemented by an Order in Council establishing a transition body to work with the Commission to prepare the required reorganisation scheme. The transition board would appoint an interim chief executive and begin the steps to establish the new council.
If the poll does not support the final proposal, the reorganisation process would cease and the existing council structures would continue in place.
November 2015 to
The transition body continues to oversee implementation of transition and prepares for the commencement date of the new organisation.
8 October 2016
Elections are held for the new Hawke's Bay Council including local boards.
1 November 2016
The new Hawke's Bay Council comes into existence.
THE BIG REPORTS
A BETTER HAWKE'S BAY - APPLICATION