19 Jun 2013 12:45 p.m.
Minister gets feel for small EB towns
Opotiki's been used as an example for the new Local Government Minister to learn how small councils function.
Chris Tremain's visited the Eastern Bay for the first time since taking over the reins after Nick Smith dropped the role.
Mayor John Forbes - the vice president of Local Government New Zealand and outspoken against reforms limiting what local bodies can do in their own communities - invited him here to improve his understanding of how local Government functions at all levels.
He says local Government ranges from the Chatham Islands of 600 people to Auckland that's got a staff bigger than the population of Opotiki.
He says there are about 26 councils of a similar size to his, so ODC has been used as an example of that group and what their challenges are.
Mr Forbes says they also wanted to show what Mr Tremain's role as Minister needs to focus on.
He thinks the complexity of the whole work, as they have to provide a range of services but on a smaller scale with less staff.
He says they still have to be delivered in a way the community can afford, which he sees as the biggest challenge.
Mr Forbes says Opotiki District Council tries to keep rates at a minimum while still providing services so it's never easy.