WDC to keep casting vote system

Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton and Waitaki District Council committee chairpersons will keep a casting vote to exercise at meetings when voting is deadlocked.

Cr Peter Garvan, seconded by Cr Sally Hope and supported by Crs Gary Young and Hugh Perkins, put a notice of motion at this week's council committee of the whole meeting to remove the casting vote from standing orders, used when voting was tied at council or committee meetings.

Those councillors, along with Cr Helen Stead, voted in favour of the committee recommending the council remove the casting vote. Mr Familton, committee chairman Cr Jim Hopkins and Crs Geoff Keeling and Craig Dawson opposed.

Crs Kevin Malcolm and Kathy Dennision were absent.

While that was a 5 to 4 majority, the Local Government Act stipulates any change to standing orders requires a 75% majority of councillors present.

To pass it would have needed at least seven votes in favour from the nine councillors there.

The notice of motion was therefore lost, and will not go to the next council meeting on May 15.

Cr Garvan said it was important each representative had an equal say.

If there was not a clear majority in a vote, it should not proceed. A tie in voting would mean the motion was lost.

Mr Familton favoured retaining the casting vote.

He knew of no incident when the casting vote had been used where a councillor had a problem with that.

Whenever using the casting vote, Mr Familton said he had voted for the status quo (against any change), except in one recent instance when an issue was a draft proposal and for public consultation.

Cr Jim Hopkins, who as committee chairman also had a casting vote, opposed removing it. Generally, because there were 11 council members (including the mayor), the casting vote would only be needed if a councillor was absent.

He also did not believe a casting vote would be used against sentiment expressed by the public.

Cr Keeling suggested the motion mover (Cr Garvan) was trying to remove a vote that might be contrary to the mover's own, but Cr Stead said that was not the case.

It was a democratic principle of one person one vote.

- david.bruce@odt.co.nz


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