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Wednesday, 9 April 2008

DRAFT REORGANISATION PROPOSAL FOR AMALGAMATION WITH THAMES-COROMANDEL

Philippa Barriball, the mayor of Thames-Coromandel, expressed her satisfaction with the draft proposal. She said, 'I am comfortable that the draft represents a fair and reasonable platform to launch public consultation on the issue.'

But because the four councils decided to send the proposal straight to the Local Government Commission there will not be the consultation phase that she and I had anticipated, but there is the 60-day submission phase laid down in law. That began on the 16th of February 2009 and ends on the 20th of April.

Click here for the LGC's website.

This version of the reorganisation proposal differs from the one you will see there, because it has been revised and improved since that one was lodged in September 2008.

........................................................................................

RE-ORGANISATION PROPOSAL
For transferring the Hauraki Gulf Islands Ward (except Rangitoto Island and Browns Island) to the Thames-Coromandel District

As the originating proposer, and the representative elector under Clause 36 Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act 2002, with the support of more than 10% of the 6692 registered affected electors in the Hauraki Gulf Islands Ward under Auckland City Council, being co-signatories on a petition/application made under Clause 1 Schedule 3, I, Nobilangelo Ceramalus, of 2-4 O'Brien Road, Rocky Bay, Waiheke Island, propose that:

Preamble:
* Recognising the closely similar character of the Hauraki Gulf Islands and the Thames-Coromandel District, and the closely similar characters of their communities, and;
* Recognising that the character of the islands is village-rural and insular, and therefore that the urban-isthmus environment and political direction of Auckland City Council make it impossible for it to sympathise with the aspirations and true well-being of the island communities, and;
* Recognising that 75.5% of the land area of Auckland City Council's district is in the village-rural environment of the islands, but that the decisions for it are made by urban decision-makers, and;
* Recognising therefore that the present local government is inimical to the best interests of the islands, and;
* Recognising the advantage to New Zealand of having the bulk and main parts of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park under one local authority and one regional authority:

Purpose:
This reorganisation is to ensure that the Hauraki Gulf Islands have good local government, to the best standard available; sympathetic local government that enables democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, their communities, and that promotes the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of their communities, in the present and for the future, in a way that is fundamentally sympathetic to their traditional character and independent spirit, and must therefore be separate from a city; and so that the traditional values of the Tangata Whenua are respected and represented; and to reverse and cancel the amalgamation of the islands with the city in 1989:

Proposals:
1. The Hauraki Gulf Islands now under the administrations of Auckland City Council and Auckland Regional Council (but excluding Rangitoto Island, an Auckland icon, and Browns Island, which was a gift to Auckland City, hereinafter 'the islands') shall by a boundary-change be transferred to Thames-Coromandel District Council (hereinafter 'the Council') and Environment Waikato Regional Council (hereinafter 'the Regional Council').

2. (a) The Council now has 9 members for 22,215 electors, this boundary-change would make that 28,907 electors by adding 6692 (23.15%), and reckoning proportionally on the new total makes 11.71 members; therefore there shall be 12 members by adding 2 from a Waiheke Ward made up of Waiheke Island and its smaller neighbours (hereinafter 'Waiheke') and 1 from a Great Barrier Ward made up of Great Barrier Island and its smaller neighbours (hereinafter 'Great Barrier');
(b) The present peninsular councillor on the Regional Council shall represent both wards also;
(c) There shall be a by-election for the 2 new district councillors, and to fill any vacancies caused by resignations in 3(b), using the method of voting then in use by the Council;
(d) The present Hauraki Gulf Islands councillor on Auckland City Council, who lives on Waiheke Island, shall become a Waiheke councillor on the Council, subject to 3(b).

3. (a) There shall be two community boards for the islands, one for Waiheke and one for Great Barrier, (hereinafter 'the community boards' or 'boards'; and hereinafter 'community board‘ or 'board' means either of those boards) each with 5 members elected from the general local electoral roll, plus one representative of the Tangata Whenua elected from a subdivision of each ward that shall consist of all those on the relevant local Maori roll, plus the councillor/s for each ward who shall be appointed to its board, plus the mayor of the district who shall be appointed to each board, making a board of 9 members for Waiheke and 8 members for Great Barrier;
(b) (i) To ensure good local government, within seven days of the Order in Council that establishes this reorganisation (hereinafter 'the Order in Council') all existing members of the community boards, both elected and appointed, must in writing commit themselves unreservedly to this reorganisation, witnessed and counter-signed by the mayor and chief executive officer of the Council, and any who refuse to must immediately resign;
(ii) The wording of the declaration in 3(b)(i) shall be: 'I [name], a [community board member/councillor] of the [Waiheke/Great Barrier Ward] solemnly declare that I will while I hold this elected office unreservedly support the local-body reorganisation that by an Order in Council in [month] 2009 transferred via a boundary-change the islands in the Hauraki Gulf Islands Ward of Auckland City Council, except Rangitoto Island and Browns Island, into the jurisdiction of [name of council], and from the jurisdiction of Auckland Regional Council into the jurisdiction of Environment Waikato Regional Council.';
(c) All who stand in the by-election and in the local-body election in 2010 must in writing within seven days of their nomination commit themselves unreservedly to the reorganisation in the same words as in 3(b)(ii), witnessed and counter-signed by the mayor and chief executive officer of the Council, and any who refuse to must withdraw their candidacy, and clear reference to that commitment must be clearly included in all their campaign advertising;
(d) The wording of the statutory declaration made under Clause 14 of Schedule 7 of the Local Government Act 2002 by those who sit on the community boards shall be as it was before this reorganisation except that the phrase '[island] community' shall be changed to '[island] ward';
(e) Within fourteen days of the official results of the by-election an extraordinary meeting of each community board shall be held at which the present chairs and deputy chairs shall resign, then each board shall elect a new chair and deputy chair from among the 5 elected community board members;
(f) (i) Decision-making in the community boards will be in accordance with Council Standing Orders, save when matters being decided are of significance to Tangata Whenua, when decisions shall be by consensus;
(ii) Decision-making of the Council on islands matters that are of significance to Tangata Whenua shall be by consensus, and shall use advisory committees representing affected Maori;
(g) The regional councillor shall attend all ordinary meetings of the community boards to report and be consulted and advise from a regional perspective, and to keep closely aware of ward issues that affect and are affected by regional decisions;
(h) The mayor may vote at community board meetings by any method of proxy.

4. (a) All decision-making for the islands shall be according to law, in particular the Local Government Act 2002, and in most particular it shall be founded on, informed by, and referred to ss10 and 14 of that Act (the purpose and the principles);
(b) Breaches of the Act in governance or management may be submitted to the process laid down in s238;
(c) The document Essentially Waiheke (but with wording revised as necessary due to this change in administration, statistical updates, errors, changes in statute, and non-conformity with statute), in particular its five core principles, shall be referred to and inform all decisions made for Waiheke, in particular annual plans, district plans, regional plans, and individual planning applications;
(d) Documents to match Essentially Waiheke shall be written for each island, after comprehensive and open consultation, in particular with permanent residents whose majority wishes shall be preferred, and it shall be referred to and inform all decisions made for each island, in particular annual plans, district plans, regional plans and individual planning applications.

5. There shall be a financial firewall for capital expenditure and loan-repayments, so that the peninsula's undertakings under those headings do not add to any island rates, and no island undertakings add to the peninsula's, and no island ward's add to any other island ward's.

6. (a) The islands shall share proportionately their actual and reasonable share of the administrative overhead in Thames, but that shall not exceed their proportion of the registered electorate, initially 23.15%, then adjusted at each triennial election;
(b) The existing service centres on Waiheke and Great Barrier shall be the Council's primary contact for the islanders, supported as necessary from Thames, in the main using information and telecommunications technology.

7. (a) (i) The community boards shall have a high level of autonomy; local decisions shall as far as possible be made locally in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity; they shall be treated as independent bodies as laid down in ss51-52 of the Local Government Act 2002; they shall have delegated authority under section 34(2) of the Resource Management Act 1991; and they shall have primary responsibility for their wards' annual plans and budgets, which shall be deeply rooted in comprehensive and open consultation in particular with permanent residents whose majority wishes shall be preferred;
(ii) And in the case of the smaller islands (those outside Waiheke Island and Great Barrier Island) their residents and ratepayers shall have the primary say in decisions made about their island and must be represented and included and reasonably deferred to in the decision-making process whenever their island's affairs are discussed by a community board or the Council;
(b) It shall be recognised that the (main) islands consist of villages, neighbourhoods, and rural areas, whose voices must be heard, and to that end the creation of village, neighbourhood and rural forums shall be actively encouraged so as to form a true grassroots democracy, which shall be consulted, listened to and referred to by community boards and planners;
(c) Best use shall be made of modern telecommunications technology, in particular the Internet, by the Council and community boards to communicate with the community, engage with it, and involve it in decision-making;
(d) Brookfield's opinion on s52 of the Local Government Act 2002 and the independence of community boards shall be considered the correct one and used accordingly;
(e) Section 14(1)(e) of the Local Government Act 2002 shall be invoked to retain the present arrangement between island libraries and libraries in Auckland for access to books;
(f) Provided that sections 14(f)&(g) of the Local Government Act 2002 are openly complied with, contracts for major activities, such as roadworks, refuse-collection and recycling, shall on the islands be awarded to local enterprises, especially non-profit community trusts, as recommended to the Council by the relevant community board after community consultation;
(g) If the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance recommends a structure and system of governance that would give the islands a greater level of autonomy than the Council has proposed or agreed to or implemented it will after consultation with the islands propose and implement one that gives them at least the same level.

8. (a) There shall be no increase in the total rates-take from each island in the first financial year after the Order in Council, and annual rises thereafter shall not be more than the change in the CPI unless for some reason the majority of the permanent local community wants a greater increase, such as to fund a special community project, which shall be via a rate struck on improved value;
(b) To prevent the development of a lopsided demography that would destroy each island's special character, that part of their rates struck on improved value shall employ a rising graduated scale on multiples of the average improved value;
(c) To encourage long-term ownership there shall be a rates discount calculated on years of occupation;
(d) There shall be rates relief at 23 cents in the dollar in the year of the donation for donations to registered community groups in the district, subject to approval by the relevant community board;
(e) There shall be a significant targeted rate that shall employ a rising graduated scale on improved value for properties where the postal address is outside the Council's district;
(f) To discourage speculation there shall be a high special rate on capital value imposed on the vendor when a property is sold within 2 years of purchase and when the vendor cannot prove that he or she occupied it for that period;
(g) There shall be a targeted differential rate struck on capital value where there are two or more separately inhabited parts of the rating unit (Schedule 3.7 of the LG(R)A 2002) and where the improved value exceeds the average for that island;
(h) There shall be a targeted differential rate struck on capital value where any habitable part of the rating unit exceeds a gross floor area of 200 square metres or 15% of the land area whichever is the lesser (Schedule 3.11 of the LG(R)A 2002) and where the improved value exceeds the average for that island;
(i) Serious consideration shall be given to removing capital value from the rates and using only improved value;
(j) When a person or persons work/s from his/her/their residence in a way that can reasonably be deemed not to harm the purpose of the relevant zoning or degrade the character of the area, that property shall be rated at the residential rate usual for it, not at a commercial rate, in part or in whole;
(k) (i) Where the owner of land that contains archaeological or environmental features of value to the community, who takes steps to protect them, or where a prohibition in statute or bylaw prevents use or part-use of the property, the Council will recognise those conditions by offering inducements, subject to the effect on the environment, or rates discounts;
(ii) If the land in 8(k)(i) is unused or uninhabited the rate shall be as for 'Offshore Islands Uninhabited' in the Council's rating schedule.

9. Where any of the sub-sections in section 8 prove impossible under the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002, central government shall be lobbied for amendments to make them possible so that the Council can better fulfil the social well-being requirement in s10 of the Local Government Act 2002.

10. (a) Any Proposed Hauraki Gulf District Plan or Plan Change shall--
(i) Be subjected to the high level of prior consultation required by the Local Government Act 2002, with preference given to the wishes of permanent residents;
(ii) Specifically take into account the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act 2000;
(iii) Each community board shall openly and transparently scrutinise every resource-consent application made for its ward under every sub-section of section 7 of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) to make sure that particular regard is being given to those that are relevant, and if it is in doubt or cannot agree the application in question shall be subjected to the judgement of the community, in particular under ss7(c) and 7(f), to ensure that each application complies and that the quality and character of the built environment are not degraded;
(iv) Always take the word amenity in section 7(c) of the Resource Management Act 1991 as meaning pleasantness and no planning decision may give it any other meaning;
(v) Manage the islands on catchment-based principles as they relate to natural and physical resources.
(b) The time-limits in Section 115 of the Resource Management Act 1991 shall be strictly adhered to in all planning applications unless the community board for that ward uses or approves s92 to extend one by a specified period that can be reasonably justified under sections 5 to 8 of the Resource Management Act 1991 or sections 10 and 14 of the Local Government Act 2002 or both.
(c) Any proposed development whose total cost or total projected cost is valued at more than 25% of the total rates-take in that ward in the previous year may not take place or in any way begin unless approved by at least 60% of those who vote in a ward referendum and;
(i) To be valid the referendum must have a turnout of over 50% of registered voters and;
(ii) All costs incurred by the referendum shall be met by the developer and;
(iii) For the purposes of the referendum the value of the development shall be taken as the average of the values determined by three independent valuers chosen by the Council or community board.
(d) All resource-consent applications must--
(i) First be presented by the applicants in person to a full open meeting of the relevant community board, and;
(ii) The presentation must include realistic computer mockups of the proposal superimposed on photographs taken from eight points of the compass or from all practical and relevant vantage-points that may be requested by the community board, and;
(iii) No application shall proceed to detailed examination and report by designated planner/s unless it has first been approved in principle by the board, which shall consult widely with the community if it is in doubt, and it shall second person/s with specific expertise when it considers that that is needed for it to make an informed decision, and;
(iv) The final decision on whether to approve or decline the application shall be made by the community board on behalf of the community, based on the planner/s report, and;
(v) All decisions in 10(d)(iii) and 10(d)(iv) must be made in accordance with 10(a)(iii).

11. A practical alliance shall be negotiated with the Department of Conservation to operate jointly in the best interests of the inhabitants of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, and to share in any benefits that may accrue from carbon-trading.

12. (a) The Regional Council may consider becoming Environment Waikato-Hauraki to reflect its much more important role in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, a national treasure.
(b) If the Local Government Commission wants the Council renamed for this reorganisation, the preferred name shall be Peninsula and Islands District Council, which shall have a logo with the same green and blue graphics as for the Council but with the new wording in the centre, as on the appended mockup below.

13. (a) The Auckland City Council shall be prohibited from selling or transferring any asset on the islands until the Commission has ruled, and then only if the ruling goes its way, and it shall be prohibited from any retaliatory act of any sort for this application, and any breach of this subsection shall immediately be reported to the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance and the Local Government Commission as evidence of governance unfitness;
(b) When the Order in Council takes effect--
(i) All assets owned in the islands by Auckland City Council shall be transferred to the Council and;
(ii) All assets owned in the islands by Auckland Regional Council shall be transferred to Environment Waikato and;
(iii) Any shares in Auckland International Airport and in any other entity that were formerly owned by the Waiheke County Council shall be transferred to the Council but any earnings from them shall be used only on Waiheke, or at the discretion of the Waiheke Community Board elsewhere on the islands and;
(iv) Any shares transferred in 13(b)(iii) shall be transferred as the number of shares or the equivalent percentage, whichever is higher. To avoid misinterpretation and eliminate doubt, that means, for example, that in the case of the shares held by Waiheke Borough Council in Auckland International Airport in 1989, which numbered 241,500 of the 210,000,000 issued by that company at that time, representing 0.115% of the total, what is transferred back shall be 241,500 shares or 0.115% of the present issue, whichever has the higher value and;
(v) All financial assets belonging to the islands shall also be transferred, including but not exclusively, the credit balances of bank accounts of all types, the Hauraki Gulf Islands Development Accounts, targeted rates not yet spent on the islands as purposed, the credit balances of rates raised on the islands but not yet spent, and the credit bank balance that the Waiheke County Council had when the books were reconciled at the time of amalgamation in 1989.
(c) Any liabilities, actual or potential, such as leaky-building claims, or any other claims that may arise at any time after the Order in Council, that were caused by Auckland City Council's actions or errors of omission or commission during the period of its authority shall be met in full by Auckland City Council and no liability of any sort shall be due to the Council.
(d) Any liabilities or claims that may arise at any time after the Order in Council that were caused by Auckland Regional Council's actions or errors of omission or commission during the period of its authority shall be met in full by Auckland Regional Council and no liability of any sort shall be due to the Regional Council.
(e) Any confidential agreements, formal or informal, concerning the islands that there may be between any persons or corporate entity shall remain in force only at the option of the affected islands ward or wards.

14. (a) This reorganisation scheme shall be reviewed from time to time but only in the years in which there are local-body elections, commencing in 2013, and;
(b) Any review shall be completed by the 1st of July, and;
(c) Changes may be made only if they are approved by at least a two-thirds majority of the council and the affected community board/s.