David Thornton of ‘No More Rates’, a lobby group founded to campaign for replacing the present system of council rates with a fairer system which reflects ability to pay and value for money, has issued the following press release.
Increased ratepayer-funded budget for Council Maori Board ‘Outrageous’.
The decision by the Auckland Council to grant over $3 million to fund the Independent Maori Statutory Board for its activities … is totally outrageous.
This represents a 40% increase over the current year’s funding allocation.
The 9-member Board was established in the legislation setting up the new Auckland Council with a requirement that the Council provide funding to pay salaries and expenses to Board members and to meet other operational costs.
There was a requirement that the Board appoint a maximum of 2 Board members to each Council Committee that ‘deal with the management and stewardship of natural and physical resources’.
This broad description has allowed the Board to appoint 2 members to every council committee with full voting rights.
There has been considerable concern about this situation since the inception of the new Auckland Council – in particular the cost of the Board, and the fact that non-elected members could hold the balance of power on some committees.
The costs are fully funded from rates.
NoMoreRates has been among those concerned on behalf of ratepayers.
To learn that this rates-funded Board is now to receive an increase in its funding of 40% can only be described as outrageous.
I believe the legislation should be amended so that the costs for this Board should be met by a special levy on everyone on the Maori Electoral Roll in the Auckland Council area.
Although little is reported on what the Board actually does, the Auckland Council draft Long Term Plan clearly states ‘The Maori Community derive a direct benefit.’
But the Plan, in defence of ratepayers funding, goes on to say ‘However, any direct recovery of costs would compromise the intent of the activity’.
I would have thought that now Maori are receiving significant financial redress under the Waitangi Claims process they should be able to afford to pay their way rather than rely on funding from ratepayers, many of whom are facing financial distress from high rates.