Graham McClymont - Deputy mayor
What is your position on the draft proposal and, importantly, why?
Fully support proposal, 80 % of workload and compliance is exactly the same over three councils. The shared roading contract is a classic example of one contractor which makes sense now having to answer to and be administered by three sets of council staff. Don,t even start me on the solid waste contract or the ability of the three councils to share a waste minimization officer.
A well funded community board with good delegations can do the work which seems to concern people the most and which gives each town its distinctive flavour.
Provided the big services , roading and three waters , the 80% are delivered , in my 7 yrs of experience no one really cares how the council achieves that provided the level of service and cost is reasonable. Please go and have a look at the level of compliance that the NZ drinking water standards imposes on councils now compared with ten years ago.
What is a specific issue (a problem or opportunity) that you believe amalgamation will address and how will it address it?
Without amalgamation to give the Wairarapa some scale and staff capacity we will be taken over by stealth , Wellington Water are very interested , check MOUs already signed , and GWRC who run transport have their hand up for roading. See where LGC has spoken with these organisations as part of process. If these services are run from Wellington then in effect 80 % of your rates are going to them. I have nothing against either organization , its inevitable with the way legislation and compliance is going that its harder and harder for small councils to meet all the requirements put on them by central government. We seem to be in a constant audit cycle.
So the opportunity I see is STAFF CAPACITY BUILDING so we can manage our own resources and future. MDC has recently been hammered in the media about staff salaries but in reality we have just shifted some budget away from consultants and lawyers and into building in house staff capacity.
What tangible benefits could amalgamation bring for ratepayers and how will amalgamation achieve them?
Better in house staff capacity is the answer to most of the challenges facing the district . Combined we have nine wastewater treatment plants , surely one set of staff running these is the answer instead of present situation. We are different to Wellington who have an ocean discharge, we are moving towards land based disposal across all nine wastewater plants and this will require its own set of skills which we already developing but even now CDC and MDC wastewater staff haven,t even officially visited each others site.
What are the risks of amalgamation, and if any, how will they be mitigated?
The only risk I can see is runaway use of consultants and legal opinions which will cost a fortune and burn off public support. It will be essential to get the right CEO in place and for the public to elect a majority of solid councilors that can work towards a good outcome, not show ponies and media hounds.
We already have a lot of shared services in place, staff capacity building taking place and good will amongst the three councils staff and councilors.