Archive | Franklin

Hide rejects Franklin unitary authority request

Published 24 January 2010

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide has declined Franklin District Council’s application to become a unitary authority. The council made its formal request on 2 December and Mr Hide responded on 15 January.

 

In the reorganisation of Auckland governance, Franklin will be spilt between the new Auckland Council, the Waikato District Council & the Hauraki District Council.

 

In his letter of reply, Mr Hide said: “I firmly believe that the reorganisation of the current 8 Auckland councils into one council for the whole region will strengthen the region’s governance, and result in cost savings for ratepayers and tangible benefits to Auckland’s communities. I will not, therefore, be initiating any other reorganisation proposal for councils within the Auckland region whilst this governance work is underway.”

 

Franklin District mayor Mark Ball said: “I’m extremely disappointed by the minister’s blatant disregard of the wishes of the vast majority of people in Franklin. Franklin meets the criteria for becoming a unitary authority. We have the population needed & the governance ability. It is an absolute travesty of democracy that the minister has rejected our application. In his letter, the minister states that he believes the reorganisation of Auckland will result in cost savings for ratepayers. However, I believe this is very unlikely for the people of Franklin.”

 

Mr Ball said Franklin had 2 other avenues left under the Local Government Act to become a unitary authority: “These are: gaining the agreement of the Auckland Regional Council & Environment Waikato, which we have sought but have not had a response to yet; or to have a petition signed by at least 10% of the electors of each of the affected regions. This would mean 186,000 signatures in total – 140,000 from the Auckland region, 40,000 from the Waikato region & 6000 from Franklin. In our view, this is simply unobtainable, and would be a waste of ratepayers’ money should we even attempt the exercise.”

 

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Attribution: Council release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Ball tells Hide why Franklin unitary option better

Published 7 December 2009

Franklin District Council has formally asked Local Government Minister Rodney Hide to exercise his powers to initiate a proposal for Franklin to become a unitary authority.

 

On top of that, in a letter to the minister on Friday, mayor Mark Ball outlined just how the Government & Local Government Commission had dismembered communities of interest along the southern regional boundary.

 

The Franklin council wants to keep its southern boundaries intact as a unitary authority.

 

Mr Ball’s primary message can be seen as self-serving. Read on, though, and you will find a message which should alarm the rest of the region’s million citizens: Costs will rise.

 

Mr Ball wrote: “We understand that neither the Select Committee on Auckland Governance, nor the Local Government Commission have formally considered Franklin District Council’s submissions to become a unitary authority, on the basis that the Auckland governance legislation did not permit consideration of such a proposal. Prior to that, the royal commission did not consider this option either. It is our view that natural justice has not been served during the process of reorganising Auckland’s governance arrangements.”

Mr Ball said 3 telephone polls the council commissioned in March 2008, April 2009 (after the royal commission reported) & July 2009 (when the select committee’s hearings were in progress) consistently indicated 80-85% opposition to becoming part of the new Auckland Council.

 

The Government has come up with boundaries according to catchments and using the Waikato River, but Mr Ball said catchment boundaries don’t work for communities of interest: “These same catchment lines were rejected as the local authority boundary for Franklin in 1989 – because they were not sufficiently reflective of communities of interest. The catchment line being proposed for the southern boundary of Auckland was also rejected by the royal commission for much the same reason.

 

“While the Local Government Act indicates that regional boundaries should be based on catchment lines, this is only ‘if practicable’. The legislation also provides for wider issues & any other matters to be taken into account. There is no good reason why the Waikato catchment boundary line should be used to define the Auckland Council.

 

“The Waikato River as a boundary doesn’t work either: Similar to the argument about catchment boundaries, using the Waikato River as the southern Auckland boundary also does not address communities of interest.

 

“The communities of Pukekawa, Onewhero, Port Waikato, Tuakau & Pokeno all use Pukekohe as their local service centre. The area of Franklin south of the river is geographically remote – there are only 3 river crossings and 2 of these (at Tuakau & Mercer) provide access to the north. Ngaruawahia & Huntly are not their local service centres – Pukekohe is.” Mr Ball said the Franklin District Council had consistently supported amalgamating the Auckland metropolitan councils & the Auckland Regional Council into a new unitary Auckland Council. “However, Franklin is not part of the ‘problem’ that reorganising the governance of Auckland is aiming to solve. Therefore Franklin does not need to be part of the solution.

 

“Franklin shares no infrastructure with Auckland, except for rail & state highways, which are national rather than regional assets. Franklin has 12 separate water supplies, 4 separate wastewater treatment plants, and its stormwater infrastructure is not connected with any of Auckland’s systems. All of Franklin District is located well outside the current metropolitan urban limit.

 

“Of course, there are economic & social links with Auckland, but it is an over-simplification to insist that these must drive a common governance structure.

 

“The governance of Franklin has a strong history of harmony (unlike Auckland). The district is financially sustainable, and predicted average rate increases in Franklin’s 2009-19 long-term plan compare favourably with those of other councils in New Zealand.”

 

Message 2: Joining Auckland means costs will rise for Franklin ratepayers

 

In his second message to the minister, Mr Ball wrote: “Initial analysis of Auckland Council costs, being done through transition workstreams, indicate that Franklin District Council currently delivers efficient & effective services. In many cases, our fees & charges are the lowest of the 8 Auckland councils (eg, dog registration fees, building consent fees).

 

“Current indications are that the higher overhead costs of the new, larger organisation, together with inherited legal costs, will result in many fees & charges in Franklin almost doubling once the new Auckland Council is established.

 

“In comparison, a preliminary analysis of the costs if Franklin becomes a unitary authority indicates that overall costs to ratepayers will actually reduce. (The combined rate-take from Franklin ratepayers in the Auckland Regional Council, Environment Waikato & Franklin District exceeds the cost of Franklin operating as a unitary authority.)

 

“Franklin can manage growth effectively: The royal commission noted that the Auckland Council will need to have control over its future growth areas, and included those parts of Franklin down to the Waikato River largely for this reason.

 

“However, the commission’s report was contradictory as to whether including Franklin in Auckland was to protect rural values or was to provide a land bank for future urban growth. Future growth in Auckland has already been addressed through the Auckland regional growth strategy, which Franklin has supported. Further, Franklin has developed & adopted its own district growth strategy, to protect the valuable class 1 & 2 soils located in Franklin, for productive purposes. This strategy is being supported through changes to the district plan.

 

“Future Auckland growth will be addressed through the spatial & infrastructure plans, which a Franklin unitary authority would collaborate in developing. (The Auckland Council will need to collaborate with its neighbouring councils.)”

 

Mr Ball said it was clear from the Local Government Commission’s report released on 20 November that its proposal for the Franklin area would have to be revised in the short to medium term: “This suggests that the proposal is not practical and has been constrained by the Auckland legislation. Further boundary adjustments will be costly & unnecessarily disruptive for our ratepayers.

 

“In the interests of reducing costs to ratepayers, I suggest that our proposal to become a unitary authority resolves the issues for the long term, reflects the desires of our community and better caters for communities of interest. Therefore, it should be given your serious consideration.”

 

Earlier story:

29 November 2009: Franklin continues push for unitary status

 

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Attribution: Council release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Franklin continues push for unitary status

Published 29 November 2009

Franklin District Council will continue to push for its own unitary authority status. The council voted unanimously on Thursday to take 3 different approaches:

formally applying to Local Government Minister Rodney Hide for Franklin to become a unitary authorityrequesting the support of the Auckland Regional Council & Environment Waikato, andincluding a proposal in the council’s next submission to the Local Government Commission on Auckland’s governance arrangements.

 

That decision followed statements Mr Hide made at a public meeting on 12 November, and subsequent public support for Franklin not to become part of the Auckland super-city.

 

The district’s mayor, Mark Ball, said on Friday: “The vast majority of the community wish to remain independent and to keep our community together. The council will continue the push, and is leaving no stone unturned in our quest to become a unitary authority.

“The people of Franklin have spoken via public meetings, a poll run by local media & 3 statistically valid telephone polls, all of which supported Franklin District Council remaining separate from the Auckland Council.

“The council requested unitary authority status in our submission to the select committee on Auckland governance. At no time did either the Minister of Local Government, the Department of Internal Affairs or the select committee advise the council that including such a proposal in its submission was not the correct channel through which to apply for unitary authority status.”

He said the council would formally make an official request to the Auckland Regional Council & Environment Waikato for their consent for Franklin to submit a proposal to the Local Government Commission to become a unitary authority.

The council will also write to the minister, formally requesting that he submit an application to the Local Government Commission on behalf of Franklin’s residents & ratepayers for the district to become a unitary authority.

 

“If a positive response is received from either the minister or the Auckland Regional Council & Environment Waikato, council staff will prepare a formal application to the Local Government Commission for Franklin District to become a unitary authority. In the meantime, council staff will continue on transition work with the Auckland Transition Agency, the Waikato District & the Hauraki District.”

 

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Attribution: Council release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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