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Value seen in ‘plagiarising policies’

Carterton District Council will remain a member of Local Government NZ [LGNZ], even as other councils across New Zealand are dropping out of the organisation as a cost-cutting measure.

The district council chief executive will pay a $25,643.52 [excluding GST invoice] after convincing councillors that being part of LGNZ provides the council with value for money.

LGNZ is an information-sharing network and lobby group for local councils.

The membership cost for the year ahead has risen 6 per cent since the last renewal notice.

Auckland Council voted to leave it recently, while West Coast Council dropped its membership earlier in the week, leaving some Carterton councillors to wonder if the cost is still worthwhile.

There were questions at the meeting about LGNZ’s purpose, but council chief executive Geoff Hamilton argued it’s management that sees the real benefit – not councillors.

Hamilton said the council doesn’t have enough lawyers to deal with most of the policy issues LGNZ supports, only hiring contract lawyers for special projects and not day-to-day policy work.

He said “plagiarising other council’s policies” is a huge benefit of membership.

“It summarises legislation so the council can see whether to follow suit or not.

“Management team are supportive of LGNZ. The $26,000 is really worthwhile.”

Councillor Grace Ayling seemed most sceptical.

“What is the benefit of us paying $26,000 or whatever it is to be part of LGNZ?” she asked.

Mayor Ron Mark maintained membership means too many long meetings and suggested that LGNZ isn’t the organisation it used to be.

“It’s quite wishy-washy,” he said.

“I see value in part. I struggle with value in whole.”

The council is due to attend an LGNZ conference held in Christchurch in July, which Mark said needed to be “more than wine and cheese”.

Councillor Dale Williams preferred paying the invoice, but said the council should go to the conference and report back on the mood of other councils.

Councillor Robyn Cherry-Campbell listened to Hamilton’s argument and said the money seemed “cost-effective”.

Hamilton said he would hold off on paying the subscription if the council objected.

Nobody did.

Carterton Council remains part of the club.

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