5 Apr 2009

Rodney Hide moves to cut local government costs

8:04 pm on 5 April 2009

A long expected move to trim the cost of local government will go to a cabinet committee within a couple of weeks.

The local government minister, Rodney Hide, has prepared a raft of reforms aimed at controlling local Government spending and keeping rate rises to a minimum.

He says he'll be putting a paper to Cabinet asking for a group to be formed to look at the recommendations then report back.

The ACT Party leader says one proposal could be a cap on council rates, but since this can be circumvented by debt or council charges, simpler controls might work better.

Other possibilities include reducing what Mr Hide says are onerous burdens imposed on local bodies by the previous government.

Mr Hide says another idea would be to allow ratepayers to tick a box during elections which would require councils to increase expenditure by no more than the rate of inflation.

He says local and central Government have in the past taken a lot of money from people and it is time to get this under control.

Lobby group won't oppose reforms

The head of Local Government New Zealand, Lawrence Yule, supports the proposal.

He says councils were lumped with expensive tasks by the previous central Government without adequate support.

Mr Yule, who is the Mayor of Hastings, says he favours softening obligations on local government which are imposed without adequate co-funding.

He says the extra costs come from new air and water requirements and consultation protocols which would make it impossible to keep spending rises within the rate of inflation.