By Chamber CEO, Don Good

Has the time for the amalgamation of the Waikato’s 13 territorial authorities arrived? 

Most Waikato councils are close to their debt ceiling and experiencing a downgrade in their viability. They are also facing really big costs to ensure their core services and infrastructure do not break.

We are hardly the biggest fan of centralisation but there needs to be some rationalisation across the Waikato to get costs down. 

Saying “Bollocks” as one old Waikato leader did has not worked. The rate rises are proof of that.

It is time for a change.

Local government duplication of bureaucracy, the differences in rules, the lack of efficiency and speed in delivering services, the number of dumb initiatives that annoy voters (such as the raised roads at intersections) means voters are looking for change. 

Councillors stinging voters with such large rate rises will see a change of councillors as voters feel the results of poor decision-making lift cash from their bank accounts. 

It is still hard to believe that Hamilton City Council levied a 4.9% increase last year at a time when inflation was over 7%, and it was widely forecast that interest rates were rising fast. 

The why is clear: 13 councils have proven to be too costly. It is time look at how amalgamation can be implemented. It is time for our leaders’ parochial patch protection to be put aside in the interests of all of the Waikato.

We are calling for some genuine co-operation, reasoned debate, then real action and our current leaders to lead the Waikato, not their personal patch.


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