Regional council not keen on LGNZ levy

A proposal to raise the profile and professionalism of local government through an additional levy has not found favour with the Otago Regional Council.

Council chairman Stephen Woodhead asked councillors at their latest meeting what they thought of a three-year programme to improve the public image of local government proposed by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ).

''It's a response to surveys and the low voter turnout at election time,'' he said.

It was discussed at meetings of local government zone five and six, where members agreed it had to improve people's perception of the value of local government and that a collective programme to build a stronger image would be of value, he said.

But they questioned whether councils would be prepared to reallocate some of their communications budget or contribute to a levy to fund the programme.

Mr Woodhead said although the concept was worthwhile, he was not sure it justified an additional levy.

''There must be another way to make it happen.''

Cr Doug Brown said he was very sceptical about the proposal as every council had its own issues.

''This seems like bureaucracy building stuff.''

Cr Trevor Kempton said Local Government New Zealand could not ''grab people by the scruff of the neck'' and make them go to the polling booth.

Council chief executive Peter Bodeker said the Otago Regional Council was already concluding a perception survey of its own constituency.

The council was taking the issues seriously and had recently restructured to recognise that.

''We already recognise the importance of doing that ourselves.''


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