A reduction in Councillor numbers could result in greater diversity around the Council table and a more efficient council overall says Hauraki District Mayor John Tregidga.
“It’s a bit of a paradox, but because Councillor's salaries are to be paid as a percentage of a fixed overall pool, reducing numbers would mean the remaining individual Councillors would earn a little bit more, which we hope might make it affordable for more people to consider standing,” he said.
As it stands, Hauraki District councillors earn around $20,000 per year. This means most are forced to juggle other roles to make ends meet, or be semi-retired. The Mayor says councillor workloads today are far greater than they’ve ever been. As well as attracting more diversity, having less councillors who are paid more might allow some to consider it as a full time occupation.
The District currently has more councillors per head of its population (estimated around 20,000 in 2018) than most other districts in the country with one Mayor (elected by the whole district) and 12 councillors - four representing the Waihi Ward, four representing the Paeroa Ward and four representing the Hauraki Plains Ward. There are no community boards. In comparison Hamilton City has 12 councillors to represent around 160,000 people.
“The Remuneration Authority has done enormous work and extensive research into this, which has shown a number of districts are over-represented and that Hauraki is one of the worst,” he said.
“We’re proposing a change to one Mayor and nine councillors - three representing the Waihi Ward, three representing the Paeroa Ward and three representing the Hauraki Plains Ward – and to continue with no community boards, for the next two Council elections.”
He said the proposal to continue with an even number of councillors across all wards reflects the current council's view of Hauraki as `one district’.
“Of course our councillors are invested in representing the people in their own wards, but they’re also interested in the bigger picture, what’s best for the entire district as a whole. A meeting we held recently in Waikino was a great example of the way this council works together. Altogether eight councillors showed up from all over the district, not just those in their home patch,” he said.
We want your feedback
However, he stresses that this is just an initial proposal and before it goes any further, the Council wants to know what its communities think.
“Every six years we’re required by law to look at the number of councillors and wards in the district, and work out how fairly and effectively they represent the number of people that live in each community. A decision also has to be made about whether or not there’s a need for community boards,” he said.
“This is a decision we encourage the whole community to get involved in. We really want to hear your thoughts on what we’re proposing.”
Following the one-month submission period and after looking at all the feedback, the Council will make a final decision on how it thinks councillor numbers and wards should look for the next two elections. There will then be a one-month appeal/objection period inviting further feedback from the community. However, the final decision is likely to rest with the Local Government Commission.
Have your say
Find out more about this proposal and make an online submission at www.hauraki-dc.govt.nz/representation-review