Tick-box democracy not good enough

23/02/17 12:06 PM

Dunedin City Council’s decision to scrap public hearings is tick-box democracy and will not provide sufficient financial transparency to ratepayers says Geoff Thomas, Otago Chapter Branch President, Property Council New Zealand.

The announcement by Dunedin City Council to scrap public hearings on its annual budget could result in serious public perception issues.

Rate payers have a right to be heard.  The process must be formal to ensure the views of individuals and business are officially recorded to ensure financial transparency and accountability for the decisions council makes.

“Removing this process could lead to the perception that decisions are made behind closed doors on issues that affect the wider community.”

The loss of a formal process will also impact the property industry he cautions.

“It  will significantly narrow the opportunity to be formally heard on how rates generated from commercial and retail buildings are spent by councils. This is not a good outcome for building owners nor the wider community.

“The trialling of new informal ways of consulting do have merit for some sectors of the community, however they should complement not replace the formal hearings.

“We would strongly advise Dunedin City Council to continue with the formal hearings process and continue to keep the wider community informed.”

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