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7 August 2018
Waipa District Council needs one more Cambridge councillor and Community Board member to comply with the law.
But they’re the only changes being proposed after the Council’s formal review of how well ratepayers and residents are represented by the current council structure.
Legally, all councils in New Zealand must review their make-up every six years to ensure representation is fair and effective. Waipā’s review has shown that, because of population growth, the Council needs one more councillor and community board member representing Cambridge to comply with the Local Electoral Act.
By law, councillors must represent the same number of people, plus or minus 10 per cent. By adding one more elected member for Cambridge, Waipā councillors would represent between 3,670 and 4,485 people each.
The other options put to Councillors involved having fewer wards. However, Councillors wanted to retain the existing wards to ensure rural representation was maintained and smaller communities continued to be well represented.
Today Council agreed to formally consult the public over the proposal to adopt one more Cambridge councillor at the next election in 2019. If so, there would be five Cambridge ward councillors and four Te Awamutu ward councillors. Two rural wards – Kakepuku and Maungatautari – would continue to have one representative each. The third rural ward, Pirongia, would continue to be represented by two elected members.
Council also proposes adding one more Cambridge Community Board member representing the Cambridge ward. There would continue to be four Te Awamutu Community Board members. The mayor would be in addition to the 13 councillors and would continue to be elected district-wide.
Mayor Jim Mylchreest said the proposal retains the five current wards, will have no impact on targeted rates and based on projected population growth, “will take us through to 2024 and beyond”.
“We’re not suggesting change for the sake of change. We aren’t compliant with the Electoral Act and we need to make a change. We’ve looked at the pros and cons of a range of options and this looks to be the most sensible.”
Under the most recent proposal from the independent Remuneration Authority, each Council across New Zealand will be told how much they can spend (in total) on salaries for councilors. This means there would be very little extra cost to ratepayers from having an additional councillor, he said.
A decision on any changes to remuneration for community board members is still being decided by the Remuneration Authority.
Consultation on the proposal will open on Thursday 9 August, where the public will be able to have their say. Council will make a formal decision in late September and any appeals or objections to that final decision will be sent to the Local Government Commission for consideration.
Any new representation arrangements will be in place for the 2019 local body elections.
Copies of the Council’s consultation document will be available from Thursday 9 August at Council offices and libraries or online at waipadc.govt.nz/haveyoursay. Feedback must be received by 10 September 2018.
Councillor Vern Wilson voted against.