Statutory management of district council soughtSave
By Matthew Martin
Rotorua's largest ratepayer group wants a statutory manager to take over running the district council but its two elected council members say they were not consulted and do not support the move.
The Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers Association (RDRR) has rejected the Rotorua Lakes Council's proposed annual plan for 2017/18 saying "it is unfair, unreasonable and unwise" and is calling for the government to appoint a statutory manager to take over the council's operations.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick and council chief executive Geoff Williams said they would not comment on the group's stance, or defend the accusations made, because the call was part of a submission to the annual plan and would be considered alongside all other submissions.
RDRR chairwoman Glenys Searancke, secretary and 2016 mayoral candidate Dr Reynold Macpherson, and treasurer Rosemary MacKenzie, said in a statement the proposed annual plan was unfair to owners of low-valued properties, would support property investors and punish people saving money due to significant debt increases.
"The solution proposed by the RDRR is a period of statutory management," they said.
But, RDRR members and district councillors Peter Bentley and Raj Kumar said they did not support the call and were not consulted by the association.
Mrs Searancke said in the statement the council had to stop "wasteful spending on vanity and legacy projects" and questioned why a levy of $14.20 per household for losses incurred due to the closure of the Rotorua Museum would be charged when the council had no idea what those losses would be.
She could not be contacted for further details on these issues.
They viewed the proposed museum levy "as an open-ended swindle that will reward the incompetence of council" and the council should cancel any non-core expenditure and sell off redundant assets to cover the loss.
"Since council shows no sign of living within its means... RDRR reluctantly calls on the Government to install statutory management," they said.
Mr Bentley said he was distancing himself from the group even though he had "great respect for many of the people in the organisation".
He said he had some issues with the way the council was run, but they did not lead him to believe statutory management was the answer.
Mr Kumar said he was "quite shocked" that he was not consulted and did not support statutory management.
"There are some things I'd like to change, but why would I support statutory management when there is no basis for this?"
In response, Dr Macpherson told the Rotorua Daily Post the association's members had "empowered" Mrs Searancke, Mrs MacKenzie and himself to issue press releases, and "we are not obliged to consult with councillors, as we speak on behalf of our members".
"Those councillors sought endorsement from RDRR and we are not obliged to consult with them or they with us and they are able to speak as individuals."
* Can be put in place at the request of councils, or when serious concerns are raised about how resources have been used
* Must assess whether there is evidence that would support outside intervention
* No single agency oversees all of the work of local authorities
* Investigations can be carried out by the Serious Fraud Office, Office of the Auditor General, Office of the Ombudsman, Department of Internal Affairs, Minister of Local Government and police
* A government appoint statutory manager would take over the operation of the council if any serious allegations can be proved
* Office of the Auditor General