12 Jul 2020

Golden Bay residents to have say on more autonomy from Tasman District Council

12:37 pm on 12 July 2020

Golden Bay can now decide on a new governance model - but paying for it might mean higher rates.

Golden Bay is considering separating from the Tasman District Council.

Golden Bay is considering separating from the Tasman District Council. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

The Local Government Commission is seeking feedback on an option giving the bay more autonomy from the Tasman District Council.

Options released by the commission include installing a local board with more decision-making power, that would replace the current community board.

Local boards were first introduced with the reform of local government arrangements in Auckland in 2010, which has 21 boards across the whole Auckland area.

It created a pathway for local boards to be established in other areas of the country which have unitary authorities, such as the Tasman District Council.

Local boards were charged with decision-making on local issues, activities and services, and provided input into regional strategies, policies, plans and decisions. They had more guaranteed decision-making powers than community boards, shared decision-making with the governing body of the council, such as the mayor and councillors.

In contrast, community boards, such as that which exists currently in Golden Bay, are generally more of an advocacy body for their area with no guaranteed decision-making responsibilities.

The Golden Bay community had felt for some time that it was not being well enough heard, and two years ago began the process of exploring alternative governance methods.

Retired banker Tony Lawton, who had helped to drive the process, said the commission had done a good job but remuneration costs for members in a local board structure would be higher, to reflect the greater responsibilities for assets and services.

He said remuneration would mean about an annual $15 extra per household of additional rates, and the commission's recommendation for a full-time support person at about $240,000 a year would mean an overall $75 extra a year in the targeted rate.

This would form part of the feedback, which was invited from throughout the Tasman district.

The proposal outlined a long list of what the board would have to take on, including decision-making over an array of costly assets and services. The commission has recommended they would be funded by a targeted rate, and district-wide rates.

Lawton said it was close to what was expected.

"There's obviously a feeling here a board could do a lot more, depending on the responsibility it's given - I think there's scope to add more, which would give more input from locals into decision-making.

"We're not unhappy with it; it's a good starting point."

The commission would consider all feedback and then decide whether or not to proceed to the stage of developing a reorganisation plan.

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