Four Waipā district elected representatives and two staff members attended last week’s Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) conference in
Palmerston North costing ratepayers more than $12,000.
The conference finished on July 22, only 77 days before election day on October 8.
The News asked mayor Jim Mylchreest if the expenditure was a good use of ratepayers’ money given the four elected representatives might not get re-elected.
More attended than normal because the conference was in the North Island and because of the “unprecedented reform agenda we are dealing with,” he said.
“The annual conference is an important meeting. Councillors must be well informed on the many changes occurring in local government at the moment so council can continue to act in the best interests of the community.”
Mylchreest, who is a member of LGNZ’s national council, was at the conference with councillors Philip Coles, Lou Brown and Clare St Pierre.
Chief executive Garry Dyet and Service Delivery group manager Dawn Inglis also attended.
The four elected representatives gave brief updates at this week’s council meeting.
St Pierre said the conference had a big focus on the future and looked at how Māori might be more involved in decision making.
Brown said he was disappointed there were no opportunities for delegates from the floor to ask questions of prime minister Jacinda Ardern and Local Government minister Nanaia Mahuta.
Coles said it was good to be able to cement relationships with other mayors and councillors. He said he took the opportunity to meet with Waka Kotahi relationship manager David Speirs about an “idea” Coles had around roading issues at Karāpiro.
Mylchreest said the conference was a “watershed” for local government with the proposed changes in the wind and the legislative changes coming “down the path.”
Registration and booking fees for the conference cost the council $7939.13 and accommodation costs were $4113.04.
Yet to come in are meal costs during the conference which a spokesperson said, “should not be significant.”