Comment received from Russell Garbutt
Submitted on 2014/06/11 at 10:04 am
The Fairfax initiative on Local Bodies is an excellent one.
It can be found at http://www.ratepayersreport.co.nz/
It seems that this whole thing has stemmed from the excellent work of Larry Mitchell, in trying to educate Local Bodies as to some financial nous, and also to alert ratepayers to what circumstances their local body has put them in.
I know from experience over many years of trying, that my recommendations to local Councillors to contact Larry Mitchell and learn from his experience as an independent consultant on Local Government fell on totally deaf ears. They seemed to know better. Yeah, right.
Now it is out there in a form that is very readable and comparisons can be easily seen.
What is totally amazing is the views of the DCC in this. Yes, the second highest debt per ratepayer, but the DCC says that it has the second highest value of assets. Crap. This is just rubbish and it can’t sell those assets. Every Council has water, roading etc which it must provide and can’t sell, but in the case of the DCC it has the stadium. Not an asset as we all know but a fearful liability, but it appears in the books as an asset. Well, sell the bloody thing. It isn’t needed.
I know that this story won’t be picked up by the ODT as it is a Fairfax story, but the other point in here of course is that the ability of Aucklanders (who have the highest debt levels) to pay. Dunedin doesn’t. Its population is well below that of Auckland when it comes to average income per household.
The other thing that the ODT won’t cover is the local comparisons. While the DCC has a debt level of $15,093 per ratepayer, the Central Otago District Council has only $327 per ratepayer, with virtually the same equity value per ratepayer. What’s the difference? As the CODC says of the area “A World of Difference”. I know which Council I admire the most.
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr