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Consequences for the Council by eprITM4m

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									Some comments of the proposed changes to the Palmerston North City
Council and the way its services are provided arising from the review of the
Long Term Financial Strategy (LTFS). - from the Poverty Action Group


The proposal is to turn all Council services, of particular interest are roading and water, into separate
business units and then into trading enterprises, with the primary objective that they run as
commercial enterprises incorporating user charges and subject to competition and possible sale.

This change is being partly driven by a “wish list” involving capital expenditure of $130 million over
10 years. There should be an opportunity for full public critique of this list and the amount. However,
even if the list and amounts turn out to be appropriate, they do not justify the changes being proposed.

The changes are designed to reduce Council’s liability for the costs involved in service provision and
to pass it on to the business unit or LATE - which means the customers, some of whom are on very
low incomes. These changes are not required under legislation, and would introduce greater
hardship into the lives of citizens of the city who already live under great financial hardship and stress

Some of the consequences for the Council and the community arising from this restructuring:

A potentially holistic approach to both planning and service provision will be replaced by a series of
discrete, separate services with planning limited to running their operation. The concept of ‘public
good’, ‘common good’ and ‘community benefit’ will be lost. The concept of ‘service’ will be replaced
by a set of tightly specified and controlled actions and outcomes.

As the operations are progressively moved down the business unit – trading enterprise (LATE) track,
the test of efficiency of operation will tend to be the level of profit, ahead of any other test or
measure. As the service providers become more profit oriented, staff numbers will be cut, charges will
increase to meet the requirement for a ‘market’ return on capital invested, less profitable services will
be cut, the quality of service is likely to decline and the potential for system failures increases. The
cost of system failures will be transferred to the customer with the Council no longer responsible for
prevention and cure. The costs of maintenance and development will be transferred to the customer
and no longer be part of a package integrating all service requirements under the control of Council.

With more and more services contracted out, the Council’s ability to respond to any emergency or
disaster situation will become increasingly limited, costly, inefficient and ineffective as the people
related infrastructural ability to respond to such situations is lost.

As the role of Council moves to that of predominantly monitoring contract performance, there will be
a major loss of in-house professional and technical expertise, and institutional memory. With the
separation of policy from practice, the two will become increasingly detached, remote and
independent. This will happen both within Council and within the Unit or LATE.

The nature of our local government will change from promoting the well-being of citizens and the
community to the provision of specific physical infrastructure. The ability for residents / ratepayers to
have any effective say on issues affecting them will become minimal and the level of accountability of
those responsible for providing services will decline significantly.

As user-charges become introduced, people will be excluded from the activities charged for, whether
Library or water. This will both exclude and alienate people from the rest of the community. The gap
between the ‘rich’ and ‘poor ‘ will widen, with flow on effects of dissatisfaction, fear, anger, ill-
health, violence, crime and further breakdown of our sense of community.


Petition to the Palmerston North City Council
Because:
 We believe that Council ought to operate for the common good, including the good of
   those on lowest incomes in the city.
 We wish our relationship with Council and its services to be as residents and ratepayers
   not customers
 We wish all Council services to be directly under Council control.
 We do not accept the over-riding importance of the $130 million dollar wish list as the
   reason for setting up business units and LATE’s and the commercialisation of services
 We consider that the combination of rates and user charges will increase substantially over
   time with the commercialisation of services with people excluded from access to them.

We ask that Council not proceed any further with the commercialisation of Council
services.

Full Name                                                   Address                                                     Signature


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Please sent this sheet to “LTFS / Annual Plan Submissions”, PNCC,
                       Private Bag 11 034, Palmerston North, by April 6.

								
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