The exit of district health boards and Tauranga’s “loss of democracy” will increase the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Local Body Election costs fourfold.
The projected Local Body Election cost for the regional council is $750,000 – four times higher than the 2019 figure of $179,982.
Previously Local Body Election costs were shared between the regional council Toi Moana, the district health boards and the local authority.
This year costs will be shared by six councils and Toi Moana.
District health board elections will no longer take place with the restructure of the health system. The country’s 20 DHBs will be replaced by the single entity Health NZ and a Māori Health Authority from July 1.
In March, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced the four commissioners currently in charge of Tauranga City’s governance would remain until July 2024, cancelling Tauranga’s Local Body Election.
This means the regional council will be the only local authority holding a Local Body Election in Tauranga come election day, on October 8.
The estimated cost to the regional council for the Tauranga and Mauao constituency elections is $435,000 – up from $20,000 in 2019, more than half of the total projected cost of $750,000 for all seven wards.
The extra cost to Toi Moana was raised by Tauranga constituency councillor Stuart Crosby at a meeting on Tuesday. “In the Tauranga constituency, there is no election for Tauranga City Council,” he said.
“There is no election now as I understand for the DHB, which is wonderful, but that must have a cost implication.”
Governance manager Yvonne Tatton said the “biggest impact” on election cost is the Tauranga portion, but not having DHB elections had a “major impact across the region”.
Yvonne said $435,000 for the Tauranga and Mauao constituencies is “quite a considerable cost [compared] to previous elections”.
“We are bearing all the cost of the election in those constituencies,” says Yvonne.
Tauranga is one of the four general regional council wards and Mauao is one of the three Māori wards.
Yvonne said the $179,982 for the 2019 elections was across four constituencies as costs were shared among the regional council, the relevant council and the DHBs.
“In 2019 elections were not held in three constituencies as the number of candidates were the same as the number of vacancies,” said Yvonne.
These were Tauranga, Eastern Bay of Plenty and Ōkurei, the Rotorua Māori Constituency.
According to data previously provided to Local Democracy Reporting by Tauranga City Council, the regional council’s share of the 2019 election costs was $20,000.
During the meeting, Tauranga councillor Paula Thompson queried the cost in comparison to rates and where it was budgeted.
“We’re talking an over one per cent general rating requirement for the fact that we’ve lost democracy in Tauranga, is that correct?” she asked.
Tatton replied: “From a financial point of view, yes”.
Deputy chairperson Jane Nees said she wanted people to clearly see the financial implications of the Government’s decisions.
“I think the ratepayers need to understand what the cost is that is being borne by the regional council for those decisions,” said Jane.
Council chief executive Fiona McTavish said council would be seeking guidance from the councillors in terms of the additional costs through an Annual Plan workshop before deliberations in May.
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