Boards reject idea of funding pool


Community boards across Dunedin have responded with a resounding “no thanks” to the possibility of the Remuneration Authority including boards in a funding “governance pool” for local authorities.

In the past two years, the authority has reviewed funding for local authorities, and has decided to create a funding pool for each council.

If community boards are included in this pool, Dunedin city councillors would likely be in the position of having to decide pay-rates for community board chairs and members.

At its first meeting for the year, on January 30, the West Harbour Community Board responded with a “vehement no” to the proposal, saying setting remuneration should remain the job of the authority.

Board chairman Steve Walker said such a move could threaten the “strong and improving relationship” between the board and council.

“In fact, I actually feel extremely sorry for the 14 councillors and the mayor, who will be put between a rock and a hard place when it comes to deciding our remuneration,” Mr Walker said.

At a Mosgiel-Taieri Community Board meeting last week, councillor Mike Lord said he thought the board should maintain the status quo.

“Councillors don’t want to determine how much value you’ve got any more than determining our own value.”

He then directed a joke at board member Maurice Prendergast.

“You’d be lucky to get a dollar if I was determining your value.”

Board chairwoman Sarah Davie-Nitis moved community board remuneration allocation to remain with the authority.

The motion was seconded by member Dean McAlwee and every member voted in favour.

Otago Peninsula Community Board also opted to maintain the status quo on funding.

Board chairman Paul Pope said each board had its own special problems to deal with, “so I do not think that the money should go into a pool to be divvied out by people who may know very little about what goes on at the grass roots”.

“This happens far too often.”

Tourism, not population, was the basis for the peninsula board to be formed, and councils needed more boards so they knew what was happening in communities, he said.

At a Saddle Hill Community Board meeting in Municipal Chambers last week, board member Keith McFadyen moved the board support maintaining the status quo. Board member Paul Weir seconded the motion and everyone voted in favour.

Strath Taieri Community Board chairman Barry Williams said the board wanted to maintain the status quo.

“We are happy the way it is.”

Waikouaiti Coast Community Board voted to maintain the status quo on funding.

An additional question from The Remuneration Authority, which appeared to propose a move towards population-based funding for boards, was also rejected by boards.

Waikouaiti Coast board chairman Alasdair Morrison said areas with smaller, widespread populations, required more time from board members.

Mr Pope said population should not be the only criteria for a board and its pay, as it differed hugely from board to board.

Asked if such a move by the authority in a local body election year could put people off standing for community boards, Mr Walker hoped not.

“People within board areas usually put their name forward because they passionately believe in making ‘their patch’ a better place to live,” he said.

However, representing an area could be expensive, so “a reasonable level of remuneration should absolutely be maintained”.

A paper on the Remuneration Authority proposal will go before city councillors for discussion at Tuesday’s council meeting.