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Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins urged the Government to allow councils to have sufficient time to involve their communities in one of the biggest reforms affecting local government in about 30 years.
People were concerned, agitated and confused about what the Government was proposing for water, wastewater and stormwater and taking a shortcut in not allowing them to be adequately involved in council decisions would be a poor outcome, he said.
The sweeping proposed reforms include taking control of water assets away from councils and having four regional water entities manage them instead.
Proposed centralisation has raised fears about loss of local knowledge and expertise, uncertainty about how systems would work and scepticism relating to government information and claims about cost savings.
The Government has argued that a new approach is needed amid mounting costs to deal with ageing infrastructure and to get it up to modern standards.
Councils have been given two months to audit government information and they are expected to be allowed to choose whether they will opt in or out of the programme by the end of the year.
Mr Hawkins said responses from local government would be aggregated and little time might be left for councils to decide whether to opt out.
Everyone should be concerned about the paucity of time that might be left for community feedback, he said.
Cr Carmen Houlahan said the Government’s reform process had appeared rushed.
Many questions still needed to be answered and she believed the process had been handled ‘‘very, very poorly’’.
Cr Jim O’Malley likened the reforms to a car driving along a winding road too fast.
He was worried election dates were determining timeframes and decisions with far-reaching implications might be compromised.
He pointed to a series of indicators that seemed to show the Dunedin council’s asset management had improved in recent years.
They included the average duration of unplanned water main shutdowns and the number of unplanned shutdowns and sewer blockages.