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New local government act allows existing TDC services

June 12th, 2013
[by David Armstrong]

The controversial changes in the Local Government Act regarding the purposes of local government will not mean any of the activities of Tasman District Council will be constrained, says TDC's strategic development manager Susan Edwards.

Speaking at the Motueka Community Board's June meeting yesterday, she said that despite fears that the changes may mean the curtailing of non-core Council services, we all "need to take a deep breath" and look at the full picture.

The new Act, brought in last year, changed part of the purpose of local government from promoting "the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of communities" to meeting "the current and future needs of communities for good quality local infrastructure, local public services, and performance of regulatory functions in a way that is most cost-effective for households and businesses".

Susan said the new act says what councils must do, including a range of fairly obvious core services such as footpaths and reserves through to libraries and museums, but it contains nothing that says what councils are not allowed to do.

"As long as there is a local mandate for activities and services, and those activities do provide public services, then councils can do them, just as in the past," she said. This can include events like street car races and Ellerslie flower shows, if the local people want them.

"Tasman District Council will not be changing any of its existing services," she said, but it will continue to carry out functions based on cost-effectiveness, need and budget considerations.

She did point out that the new act explicitly says services are aimed at "households and businesses", and not for volunteer or community groups. However, Council also recognises that huge savings can be made in provision of services when volunteer groups are supported to provide those services.

"It's well known that for every dollar we put into projects run by volunteers, four dollars is saved, so we want to continue to encourage community groups to come to us with their requests for help."

But she added that some 'Grants from Rates" applications may need to be looked at a bit more closely to ensure they are for projects that are delivering community goals effectively.

 



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