Whangarei Mayor Morris Cutforth has been reassured by the Prime Minister that local government reforms will not have a big impact on the way his council does business.
Mr Cutforth was part of a four-man delegation sent by the Whangarei District Council to the Local Government New Zealand conference in Queenstown this week.
At the organisation's annual meeting held before the conference, councils voted unanimously to pass a motion opposing the redefinition of their core purpose as proposed by the Government.
The Local Government Amendment Act proposes to scrap the requirement for councils to provide for the "social, economic, cultural and environmental" well-being of their communities with a new requirement that councils provide "good quality local infrastructure, public services and regulatory functions" in a way that is "most cost-effective for households and businesses".
Prime Minister John Key reassured delegates, according to Mr Cutforth, that local government reforms proposed by the Government were more a "precautionary measure" against overspending councils than a stop on all spending.
"John Key said it's going to be okay for us to have art galleries and V8s but we have to take notice of our communities and what they're saying to us.
"They're possibly saying 'you do need to be a bit more careful about how you're spending the ratepayers money and be very careful about rating and the level of rating increases'."
Mr Cutforth said he did not think the reforms would make any difference to the WDC's Hundertwasser Art Centre plans as the $8 million budgeted represented a sub-zero percentage of spending in the Long Term Plan.
Recent news that the ASB Community Trust had declined a council application for funding came as a surprise, Mr Cutforth said. "I'm disappointed because that wasn't the message they were giving us right up until the announcement was made so that means we have to look at other ways of funding the Hundertwasser."
Mr Cutforth was accompanied at the conference by council chief executive Mark Simpson, Finance and Services Committee chairman Warwick Syers and councillor John Williamson.