Reinvigorating local democracy: a discussion paper by LGNZ – feedback welcome by 15 Dec 2019

Submissions on Local Government NZ’s latest discussion paper Reinvigorating local democracy: The case for localising power and decision-making to councils and communities close on 15 December. You can send your comments and feedback to mike.reid@lgnz.co.nz or send to: Dr Mike Reid Principal Policy Advisor Local Government New Zealand PO Box 1214 Wellington 6011.
 
Background:
  • LGNZ developed this discussion paper with the support from the NZ Initiative and in consultation with 150 people who participated in February’s Localims Synposium. 
  • It is designed to assist LGNZ promote localism during the build up to the 2020 Parliamentary election.
  • It is asking New Zealanders for their views on the arguments made in the paper based on a set of feedback questions
  • The paper itself starts off with defining constraints with addressing deep-seated social issues, environmental degradation and a declining trust of citizens in public institutions (quoting declining voter participation and concerns with NZ’s highly centralised and siloed institutional settings)
 
Proposals made in the paper:
  • The paper calls for a shift in the way public decisions are made in NZ by seeking a commitment to localims: empowering councils and communities themselves to make decisions that affect them
  • It proposes an active programme of devolution and decentralisation with the following elements:
    • promoting collaborative partnerships between central and local govt
    • establishing a legislative framework for local govts to take on additional roles and responsibilities to improve well-being
    • promoting a place-based approach to local decision-making
    • adopting new and innovative mechanisms through which citizens can participate in making decisions about their towns, cities and communities 
  • In particular it seeks views on the details of these elements as well as the incremental / consultative way that progress is proposed:
    • Devolving roles and responsibilities; where practical decisions about services that benefit local communities should be made at the level of local govt with the active participation of affected communities – identifies the kind of services that should be considered for devolution 
    • Funding localims; an introduction of local specific levies or taxes that help grow the funding base for local govt
    • Ensuring well-being investment meets local needs; and the need for processes to enable local communities to define their own well-being needs and debate priorities that feed into budget decisions – co-designing and co-producing services that meet identified priorities 
    • Deepening democracy;  through the active engagement of citizens and communities at the start of decision-making processes, e.g. participatory budgeting
    • An end to cost shifting and unfunded mandates; through the introduction of new legislation and measures that require central govt to provide required funding where a council is to undertake a new service

The following questions were prepared to help your response:

  1. Do you agree with the three recommendations in this section, devolution, negotiated devolution and removing constraints?
  2. If not what would you change?
  3. What, if any, functions currently provided by central government should be devolved to councils and other local organisations like Iwi/Maori and not for profit organisations?
  4. What, if any, central government responsibilities would be more effective if your council, or other local organisation, applied to take them over under the negotiated devolution approach?
  5. Can you identify legislative and regulatory constraints on councils and other local organisations that limit their ability to be responsive to local needs?
  6. What additional form of funding or tax should councils have access to in order to meet community expectations and address future challenges?
  7. What process should councils go through in order to implement a new levy or tax?
  8. Do you agree that the government’s annual well-being budget process should be informed by priorities set by each community?
  9. What roles could councils play to ensure that government spending on well-being addresses local needs and priorities? Feedback sheet We value your feedback on our localism proposal, these questions have been designed to help your response.
  10. Do you agree with the suggestion of local well-being plans and reports?
  11. What additional approaches could be used to strengthen participation in local government decision-making?
  12. What needs to change to strengthen relationships between councils, Iwi/Maori, business organisations and the community/ voluntary sector?
  13. Do you agree that legislation will solve the unfunded mandates and cost shifting problem?
  14. Are there other measures that you would recommend to reduce costs being imposed on councils?
  15. What else could be done to protect the constitutional status of local government? 

https://localism.nz/assets/Documents/f411ba372e/Reinvigorating-local-democracy-LGNZ-July-2019.pdf

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