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Bureaucrats outside Dunedin must not hold sway on how and where the city grows, the Dunedin City Council is poised to tell the Government.
A compromised ability to determine the shape of Dunedin’s future is one theme in a letter councillors will consider sending to Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta next week.
Others include profound concern about a rushed timetable for community consultation and doubts about the quality of information available for the public.
Councillors are to debate on Monday what feedback they should provide about the Government’s proposed reforms, which have been promoted as necessary to get systems up to scratch in a cost-effective way, including through the creation of regional water entities.
Ms Mahuta can expect some blunt messages from Dunedin about the importance of local influence.
‘‘The balance of power for setting the strategic direction for land use planning must stay with councils,’’ the draft letter to her states.
‘‘The council does not want to see these reforms create a situation where the costs of putting pipes in the ground or upgrading treatment plants dictate where and how an urban area grows.
‘‘Ensuring local decision-making is maintained through the reforms in this area is a bottom line for us.’’
It is unclear how much ability communities, through their councils, will have to influence the new entities’ decision-making, the draft letter states.
Councils are expected to opt in or out of being part of the reform programme by the end of the year, but the Government’s timelines have come in for heavy criticism.
There has also been scepticism about the Government’s financial case for change, which envisages substantial savings being made through economies of scale.
Southern mayors wrote to Ms Mahuta in late August.
Information provided by the Government for communities consisted of ‘‘television advertisements that provide virtually no information and a Department of Internal Affairs website that has an overload of highly technical information in a format that is very difficult for a layperson to navigate’’, they said.
‘‘Rushing the engagement process will simply not provide for good decision-making, and the decisions made as a result could see costly consequences for communities, councils and the Government for many years to come.’’
In July, the Government announced a $2.5billion package to support the transition to the proposed new set-up.
A $2billion component was to invest in the future of local government and community wellbeing.
A $500million component was to make sure no council was left worse off through the reforms.
The Dunedin City Council’s share of the $2billion would be $46.17million.