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Further steps towards major savings for regional ratepayers

Media release from Waikato Mayoral Forum
A work programme designed to generate multi-million dollar savings for regional ratepayers is being forwarded by the Waikato Mayoral Forum to the region’s local and regional councils for consideration.

The forum – made up of city and district mayors and the chair of the regional council – met in Thames today. It received reports on work streams designed to improve co-operation on planning and governance, economic development, roading, water and waste water services.

A detailed briefing for all of the region’s councillors is due to be held on 25 March to spell out the details of what’s proposed, the opportunities and the suggested funding arrangements for progressing the work streams. Further information will also be provided to stakeholders and the media following the briefing.

In the meantime, individual councils are being advised of the provisional contributions sought from them by way of staff time or funding to advance the work streams.

“Working together, the mayoral forum asked the CEOs of the various councils to come up with an integrated package of work. This is designed to help councils collectively come up with options for saving ratepayers money and creating other efficiencies in the way that councils work on behalf of their communities,” said forum chair Hugh Vercoe, the mayor of Matamata-Piako.

“The work that has been done jointly through the forum will now be closely examined by individual councils who will have the final say on what happens next.

“I would like to congratulate the mayors and regional council chair, and council staff, for the way they have pulled together on behalf of Waikato Inc to come up with these proposals.

“There are some really exciting opportunities for us to work together more effectively to make savings and to chart the way forward for regional development.”

Mr Vercoe said it was important for the forum to share the suggestions and proposed funding arrangements with elected representatives first but added it was important to keep the wider community up to date with what is being looked at and what it may mean for the way services can be best delivered.

He stressed that the suggested work programmes were not about amalgamating all or some of the region’s councils or creating unitary authorities.

“We have said all along that the forum has not been discussing amalgamations.

“What our work programmes are about is identifying savings and efficiencies for local government in our region, as well bolstering economic development and seeing if we can improve the way we plan for our region’s future.

“While the results of the proposed joint planning work may help inform the discussion on future governance arrangements in the region, the forum does not have any particular structures in mind.

“Essentially we want to improve on what we have now to save our ratepayers money and make local government in our region even more effective.”

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