23 Nov 2012

Council asks Govt for contribution

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Written by: Wayne Thompson
Published: The New Zealand Herald – 23 November 2012

Auckland council requests contribution from the state to pay the bill in hearing public views on its Unitary plan.

Auckland Council wants state help to pay the bill for hearing thousands of public views on its first Unitary Plan.

It says the Government’s measures to fast-track the regional growth rule book will bump up the hearings’ cost to about $5.5 million.

Last month, Environment Minister Amy Adams announced a one-off process for the plan where council hearings would be replaced with a hearings panel independent from the council. The panel, to be chaired by a retired judge, would be picked by Ministers for the Environment and Conservation.

It would have the power to direct mediation and lawyers could cross-examine the public and experts on their submissions. Appeals would be restricted.

The council’s budget for the hearings process was $3.75 million over two years, said a report by chief planning officer Dr Roger Blakeley and council chief executive Doug McKay.

“The Government’s response has added costs of around $1.7 million to $2 million to the process.”

The $2 million is equal to 0.06 per cent of two years’ council rates when the council has just trimmed budgets to keep the rates rise to 2.9 per cent.

The report said mediation at the “front end” of the Government’s process added $700,000. The extra cost of fees for independent commissioners was about $1 million to $1.3 million.



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