Commenting on proposals for a revised local government structure by the Wellington Region Local Government Review Panel released today, Mayor Wallace says there are no gains for Hutt Valley residents and ratepayers.
“But there are some real disadvantages,” he says.
“We are a significant population and have the lowest average rate increases, a sound set of books with low debt and an infrastructure that is up to scratch – why would we want to amalgamate and take on problems we do not need.
“Our residents want one of two things. We want to stand alone with greater shared services or join Upper Hutt in one joint council.
“One city across the region is not the option our residents want,” he says.
Mayor Wallace says Lower Hutt already makes a significant regional contribution including shared services and Council Controlled Organisations that include water supply and New Zealand’s top landfill at Silverstream. Lower Hutt recently began providing animal control services to Wellington City.
“We want to pay our way and work with other councils to build and promote the region, but we can do that without the services of a Lord Mayor based in Wellington central,” he says.
Mayor Wallace says the review panel was insisting the proposal is not based on an Auckland model, but there are very strong similarities which makes it a virtual super city.
“The panel has made an effort to create representation at the community level underneath the regional council, but its weakness is the lack of adequate clout in the form of funding and resources.
“The proposed 10 person regional council will make all the funding decisions for local communities and that is not good local democracy.
“The appointment of a community Mayor rather than election by residents is also unsatisfactory – people want to have a Mayor that they have chosen,” he says.
Mayor Wallace said he looked forward to on-going discussions with the regional Mayors at a forthcoming forum.