The Government has introduced two new Bills which are due to have their First Reading next week.
The first, the Local Government (Community Well-being) Amendment Bill, aims to restore the four aspects of well-being previously removed from the Local Government Act 2002 in the 2014 amendments. The Bill proposes to amend a number of provisions and definitions, providing that the purpose of the Local Government Act 2002 is to ensure that local authorities play a broad role in promoting the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of their communities; the four aspects of well-being.
In addition, the Bill proposes to remove a number of limitations regarding the way in which local authorities levy development contributions. Of relevance, section 198A of the Local Government Act 2002 regarding the restrictions on a territorial authority's power to require contributions for reserves is to be repealed, thus restoring the ability to collect development contributions for any public amenities required as a consequence of development, such as sports grounds, swimming pools, and libraries.
Changes are also proposed to section 200 of the Local Government Act 2002 to ensure that recoverable advances of financial assistance from the New Zealand Transport Agency do not affect the power of territorial authorities to collect development contributions for the same project financed by that mechanism.
Essentially, the Bill moves away from the previous government's focus on providing essential services as a purpose of local government, and aims to broaden this purpose to give local authorities a more expansive mandate within which to operate.
Finally, changes are proposed to both the Local Electoral Act 2001 and the Electoral Act 1993 in the omnibus Bill: the Local Electoral Matters Bill. In summary, the changes are designed to provide greater flexibility for local authorities in their electoral arrangements, predominantly to encourage the use of online voting in local elections.
Following the First Reading, the Bills will proceed to the Select Committee stage.
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