Most councils to stick to deadlines on plans

The previous government planned to establish 10 new regional entities to manage New Zealand's...
The previous government planned to establish 10 new regional entities to manage New Zealand's drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services, taking over activities from councils. Photo: ODT files
Most councils in the South appear set to resist the temptation to delay adoption of their long-term plans.

Others have yet to work out their timeframes amid uncertainty about the new government’s Three Waters programme.

The Invercargill City Council was one territorial authority intending to stick with a June 30 deadline for adoption of its 2024-34 long-term plan, rather than make use of a three-month extension offered by the government.

However, the council signalled one of the other measures announced by Minister of Local Government Simeon Brown late last year would be useful - councils being permitted to have unaudited long-term plan consultation documents this time.

The minister’s moves were "helpful in that they enabled Invercargill City Council to work with Audit New Zealand to adjust and streamline this process in regards to the upcoming long-term plan", community engagement and corporate services group manager Trudie Hurst said.

The government has sought to allow councils some flexibility in their 10-year planning, as it intends to repeal the previous government’s water services legislation at a difficult time for them.

This would have a significant effect on councils’ books, reversing a plan by the previous government to take water activities away from councils.

The chief executives of the Gore and Waitaki district councils outlined similar thoughts to those from Invercargill.

Neither said it was likely their council would depart from the normal timetable.

"There are aspects of Minister Brown’s proposals that are helpful, such as not having to have our consultation document audited," Waitaki District Council chief executive Alex Parmley said.

Gore District Council interim chief executive Stephen Parry had been critical last year of auditors getting into "wordsmithing".

Mr Parry said at the time accountants had gradually overstepped their mark and were "giving advice on the nuances of language ... akin to a soccer player advising on rugby union tactics".

He welcomed the change.

Clutha District Council chief executive Steve Hill said the council would consider its options at a meeting set for January 25.

The Central Otago District Council was yet to make a call on whether it would delay adoption of its plan.

Both the Otago and Southland regional councils indicated they would stick with a June deadline.

The Dunedin City Council has signalled it might adopt its plan in July.