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 AUCKLAND  PLAN  – Tamaki Makaurau Transition Bill

 (a) Second Tier? …..  Yeah Right!                          

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(b) New Reality …. Tamaki Makaurau  – living, diverse, strong, organic, resilient, agile, growing, rich

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 SOME WAYS OF UNDERSTANDING WHERE DIFFERENT PEOPLE ARE COMING FROM:

 Our Government has initiated a bold and long needed plan to restructure seven existing city entities in the area into a single Auckland Supercity; largely overriding the consultation and key recommendations of a Royal Commission on Auckland that has involved many on this issue for a year or so.  This new imposed plan coming out of the blue has stirred tears, pain, anger, fear and determination in the minds of many of the affected stakeholders and communities.  Much thinking yet needs to be done

Cynefin Framework helps us better understand the conflicting dynamics, roadblocks and opportunities for real growth in this situation;

A videoclip that clearly describes the framework and its four domains is at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mqNcs8mp74

Communities and Cities are complex places – requiring us to use network thinking to understand them, yet we find many who think they are in control are treating them as if they are simple or at best complicated.  That will not to get respect in a strong complex local democracy!

This Living Systems Thinking is rooted in the Tipu Ake ki te Ora Organic Leadership Model    www.tipuake.org.nz

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The failure of the Montreal merger

The impact of the forced merger of municipalities in the Montreal area in 2002 is now apparent. Henry Aubin, who writes a column on municipal politics for the Montreal Gazette, has recently summarized the state of the merger, concluding it is “a failure on almost all accounts”.

Despite promises the merger would result in less expenditure by the big city, operating expenses have increased since 2002 by 16.7%, compared to increases in the Quebec government’s own operating budget of 8.6%, and increases in inflation of 6.7%.

Despite promises that the number of city hall jobs would surely shrink by 1260 people as duplication was eliminated, the number of full-time positions, including contract staff, has increased by 330. The number of ‘working’ staff has been reduced by 2% but the number of managers and supervisors has increased by 9%.

Property taxes were promised to be lower but have increased 12.5%, almost twice the rate of inflation.

There were suggestions the merger would save money at the elected official level, but salaries and benefits for those elected have increased from $7.9 million to $8.7 million, not including the costs of extra political staff.

Aubin relates the common experience that services have declined very noticeably in Montreal and concludes “All in all, the merger has failed on virtually every count.” He continues, “Indeed defenders of the merger at City Hall are hard pressed to name one major achievement that could not have been realized without a merger.”

These kinds of results have also been evident in Toronto and in other large cities where the Ontario and Quebec governments decided to force mergers and amalgamations. The result is not surprising given the number of people who objected at the time, but it is a sad commentary that neither provincial government is willing to seriously rethink the mess that has been made at the local level.

http://www.localgovernment.ca/show_bulletin.cfm?id=174

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A failure on almost all accounts

A failure on almost all counts: The municipal mergers mean more spending and more bureaucrats, but diminished services

March, 2006 – Henry Aubin

Montreal Gazette Friday, March 3, 2006

 The public outcry over declining services – including snow removal and pothole repair – has been rising since the 2002 merger of Montreal Island. This winter’s wave of indignation raises a question: What do Montrealers have to show for the merger as a whole? Let’s compare the promised benefits of the merger with the actual results. We’ll look at changes during the four-year period beginning Jan. 1, 2002, when the Parti Quebecois government’s amalgamation came into force, and Dec.31, 2005, the eve of the partial demerger.

 Spending. The government said the operating costs of local government across the island would fall. Indeed, a 1999 study by SECOR Consulting Inc. for Montreal’s pro-merger Bourque administration predicted a drop in spending of seven per cent.

 Reality: According to the Montreal transition committee’s recent report, operating expenses during the four years increased by 16.3 per cent.

 Meanwhile, inflation in Montreal during that period was just 6.7 per cent.

 The Quebec government’s operating budget during this period went up by just 8.6 per cent. The megacity has, thus, spent at almost twice the rate as the province.

 Labour. The much-touted SECOR study said the merger would cut the duplication of jobs in different municipalities and so reduce the need to replace retiring workers. It predicted the workforce would shrink by 1,260 people after five years.

 Reality: Official figures show that during the four years, 330 more people (as measured in person years) work for the city. This includes at least 90 contract workers.

 A breakdown by job category is revealing. Employees who serve the public directly – namely, blue-collars, police, firefighters and crossing guards – have declined by two per cent. Yet managers and supervisors have increased by nine per cent.

 Taxes. The Bouchard government said most Montrealers would see lower taxes.

 Reality: Taxes from all sources (mostly on property and water) have risen by 12.5 per cent, almost double the inflation rate.

 Global competitiveness. One of Quebec’s chief arguments for the merger was that a unified municipal apparatus would spur investments here.

 Reality: According to Montreal International, the body that since 1999 has represented all the metropolitan region’s municipalities in the hunt for investors, the island’s unity has not been a factor in a single investment in the last four years.

 As MI’s president, Marc Fortier, told me, “For investors, it’s not important whether there are 12, 25 or 50 municipalities so long as the whole region speaks with one voice” – that is, through an umbrella agency such as MI.

 Social equity. The PQ government said the merger would enable well-off parts of Montreal Island to contribute more to disadvantaged areas.

 This idea has had some bright spots. Montreal Nord Mayor Marcel Parent, for example, attributes $5 million of his long-deprived borough’s new $37-million budget to the megacity’s equalization policy.

But there’s a flip side. Some boroughs – including Cote des Neiges/Notre Dame de Grace and the Plateau – say the system short-changes them and that it needs changes.

Reality: It’s far too early to assess the system’s value.

 Bear in mind that municipal mergers were not required to spread the wealth.

 The old Montreal Urban Community provided a formula for richer municipalities to help poor ones. If inadequate, that system could have been recalibrated.

 Environment. The Tremblay administration attributes several successes to the merger. One is a bylaw on pesticides across the island. Another measure safeguards “eco-territories” from development.

 Reality: Each innovation could have been achieved without the merger. Quebec could have enacted a province-wide pesticide law (as, indeed, it did later).

 And the regional body, the Communaute metropolitaine de Montreal, can protect green space. The MUC could have done this also.

 Elected officials. The Parti Quebecois said the ending of 28 suburbs’ mayors, support staffs and councillors would yield big savings.

 Reality: The year before the merger, the salaries and benefits of elected officials across the island cost $7.9 million. In 2005, they were $8.7 million.

 If you include political staff at both city hall and in the boroughs, the new cost is even greater. The number of these aides is growing like mad. Salaries go as high as $95,000.

 All in all, then, the merger has failed on virtually every count for four years. Deterioration of snow removal and other services – which the PQ said would improve – is a metaphor for the new system as a whole.

 Indeed, defenders of the merger at city hall are hard-pressed to name one major achievement that could not have been realized without a merger. Even the ambitious overhaul of the water network could have been done under a strengthened MUC. (Just ask ex-MUC-boss Vera Danyluk.)

 I don’t blame the Tremblay administration for most of the dismal record: The mayor’s team is of above-average competence on day-to-day matters. Rather, I blame the structure: It’s inherently unmanageable and lacks a reason for being.

 This record raises questions.

First, why are Premier Jean Charest, Municipal Affairs Minister Nathalie Normandeau and Tremblay so keen on punishing those suburbs that, via referendums, opted out of this nonsense?

 And, more important, why is Charest in particular so dead set on maintaining the system that is producing higher costs, a declining quality of life and (as last fall’s record-low voter turnout of 35 per cent shows) public disaffection? Not once has he justified his position.

 That silence is telling. It suggests just how intellectually untenable this whole improvised adventure has become.

 http://www.fonvca.org/agendas/mar2006/bulletin-merging.pdf

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jae Tee on April 29, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Kia Ora,

    I am a manukau resident and home owwner and do agree that our council has played a dynamic role (role model to all councils) in bridging the gaps within our diverse communities and ethnicities that I am proud to be a part of and in particular its proven history and cemented partnership with iwi TAINUI, of which Huakina Development Trust are the Tamaki Tribal representative under the auspice of Waikato Tainui Trust Board (17 Marae, Papakainga and all its affiliated beneficiaries)

    With this proposed merger one of my concerns is that Manukau City with a current population of around an estimated 90,000 and possibly the largest city affected by this merger needs to secure a place for Iwi within this new structure and that the Royal Commission and the powers that be, need to strongly re-think Iwi involvement to include Mana Whenua/Tangata Whenua representation for all Iwi impacted by this, ie; Manukau City – Franklin (Tainui), Waitakere (Kawerau/Waipareira), Auckland (Ngati-Whatua), Norh Shore (Ngati Whatua/Ngapuhi)at least to ensure that Tangata Whenua and Iwi connected to all these areas are represented and involved in major decisions that wil impact on us all, that is not to say that our Pacific relations are not included as they too are a major party to this and to UNITE our voice and actions to get involved wether it be Hikoi / Email / Writing in Letters of objection to your local councils / MPs / PM will show the fruits of our combined efforts.

    KIA KAHA – KIA MAIA – KIA MANAWANUI

    Reply

  2. Posted by Angela Smith on May 13, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Kia ora

    I am an ex sth Auckland resident now living in the central city. I bought up my whanau in Sth Auckland and am still proud to have been a part of the dynmaic Manukau City and its colourful residents.
    If ever there was a time for us all to come together in one mighty force, this is it.
    Centralisation of Auckland is the beginning of the same such thing happening worldwide.
    These hierarchical structures work like a pyramid. The little man will always be the one who suffers. The elite control their minions and the squeak from us is less likely to be heard. Sound familiar?
    Lets show our Government the peoples objection, lets shout it out loud and hard!!
    If anyone is keen to speak on this matter so people can become more informed regarding the importance of this issue, we have a radio show we can organise for you to speak on. The most articulate of you brothers and sisters would be helpful.

    You can call or email:
    Angela Street
    027-4176340
    kiakahaprincess@yahoo.co.nz

    Reply

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