Answers to your questions from Mayor Len Salt:
Some of these questions overlap but they have all come to The Informer office through various means. Not all answers have been printed because of space restrictions.
Q1: What do you perceive as the changes in the way Local Governments will work?
A. Alongside Local Government New Zealand – the local government sector’s advocacy and policy advice body – our Council is aligned with councils across the country in urging the new government to give clear direction on the future of funding for local government. How local government is funded and addressing the critical gaps in what the central government requires councils to do and how this is paid for are top of the list of items we would like the new government to address. We don’t want any more unfunded mandates, where central government requires councils to deliver something but doesn’t provide the funding to pay for it, thereby devolving the cost to ratepayers. We urgently need clarity around three waters and what will replace the current legislation once it is repealed. Also required is clarity around councils’ access to water infrastructure funding as the new water services regulator Taumata Arowai (Drinking Water Standards Authority) begins to enforce requirements for water treatment upgrades. (It has been reported that TCDC is required by Taumata Arowai to make improvement to a segment of the water supply (that has been declared unfit) to the tune of $13m by 30th June 2024.)
Q 2: What about the role of Community Boards in the Coromandel Peninsula - will it continue the same when it comes to the next election?
A. Community Boards are a critical part of us being able to deliver on locally based decision making. They are a dynamic entity and respond really well to strong community level engagement. I'm extremely proud of the work that our Community Boards do, and I rely heavily upon guidance and advice from CB Chairs and members about local issues.
Q 3: Do Maori wards effect who is on Community Board and how they are elected?
A. A Māori ward or wards would not affect the Community Board structure unless the representation review requires it.
Q 4: Could the extra cost of Maori Wards, which everyone will pay for, be absorbed by having less ‘other’ councillors? Can we not have the same number but a different makeup? Maori could be two of the current four councillors.
A. Under the Electoral Act, the decision to establish a Māori ward or wards triggers a Representation Review that will consider the detail of the wards, such as how many and their names and boundaries, and how many councillors in total we will have. This review process is heavily prescribed under the Act, is run by the Electoral Commission (not our Council) and will involve considerable public consultation. However, the review process does not revisit the decision to have Māori wards. The representation review must be concluded by 31 July 2024, so the new ward structure will be in place for the 2025 local election. Councillors pay comes from the Remuneration Authority, not from ratepayers.
Q 5: Does a Maori person only look after Maori or being a voice for Maori or will they feel they have the freedom to care for the whole electorate or issues in the electorate?
A. As Mayor, I would expect that all councillors take into consideration the entire community in their decision-making. Establishing a Māori ward aims to redress under-representation of Māori in local government and recognises Māori knowledge and perspectives are hugely important when Council considers land use, the environment, business, tourism and more. Won’t it also be of significant benefit to have Māori representation at the Council table when the Treaty Settlement in Hauraki-Coromandel is finalised?
Q 6: Budgets - could there be an interim report from a finance person on what are the big budget items in the reworked Long-Term Plan that weren’t there before, or have been increased by a significant amount? What are the items being relegated to less importance. (this would need to be across the peninsula not just Mercury Bay)
A. The Long-Term Plan (LTP) for 2024-2034 is in the process of being prepared, this includes working on our priorities for projects and services and how these can be funded. We do know that this LTP will be focused on cyclone recovery and building resilience into the infrastructure and facilities our Council provides, as well as enabling that same recovery and resilience in our communities. We’ll be rebuilding and improving on our roading and infrastructure, so it’s better placed to withstand future weather events. We’ll be implementing some of the actions identified by our Shoreline Management Pathways project, which will help us manage our response to coastal hazards. We’ll be looking to support economic recovery through funding, projects and partnerships.
We held a series of public drop-in sessions at the end of October, as well as an online forum which was recorded.
We’ll be asking for formal public feedback on our proposals for the LTP in March and April next year – but will also be sharing further information as we go along. In the meantime, if anyone would like to get in touch with an idea or proposal, they’re most welcome.
Editor’s Note: Some of the Mayors responses lack specificity. However, I am sure Budget priorities will eventually be more specific, as ‘resilience’ and ‘infrastructure’ are bandied words that reflect a lack of noticeable achievement in both areas in the past.
If you have a specific question of the Mayor or TCDC then send it by email: Info@the informer.co.nz .
Subject - Q and A TCDC. There are no guarantees regarding a response, but we promise to send it on and work for a response. Te Communications people have been very prompt with the questions we sent.