Fairfax Media [not ODT] initiative on Local Bodies

The Taxpayers’ Union in collaboration with Fairfax Media has launched the “Ratepayers’ Report”. (Link)

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


Filed under Business, DCC, Democracy, Economics, Media, Name, New Zealand, People, Politics, Project management, What stadium

7 responses to “Fairfax Media [not ODT] initiative on Local Bodies

  1. Elizabeth

    But wait, LGNZ has another story via Grant Thornton…

    LGNZ president Lawrence Yule says: “This report sets the record straight about the current council financial position […] Overall, New Zealand’s councils are in overwhelmingly sound financial health.”


  2. Russell correctly points out that Dunedin has the second highest debt per ratepayer. Auckland ratepayers owe $15,858 each and Dunedin is a very close second at $15,093. What is not so obvious is that these amounts are outliers and are vastly larger than the average of all of the country’s 67 councils which is around $4000 per ratepayer. Debt servicing for Dunedin is also horrendous: $651 per ratepayer, second only to Auckland at $665 (average- about $200).
    Cull and Bidrose probably think that they deserve a prize for not being the worst city in New Zealand. Bidrose has never been good with money and Cull thinks that no sacrifice is too great to achieve his Car-less City obsession (as long as it isn’t his sacrifice). Chin and Harland pushed us to the brink, now we have Cull and Bidrose to finish us off.

  3. Elizabeth, here is a press release criticizing the Grant Thornton report (commissioned by LGNZ). This is from the Taxpayers’ Union who produced the first report in association with Fairfax:

    11 JUNE 2014

    Reacting to the report and comments released by Local Government New Zealand this afternoon, Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union says:

    “We are frankly staggered that LGNZ have waited until today to release this report on the financial health of the local government sector. We approached them months ago to assist in our efforts of ensuring New Zealand ratepayers had meaningful and accurate data to compare the performance of councils. Instead of assisting, they’ve commissioned a report that is a puff piece, and resisted our efforts to provide transparency.”
    “How can LGNZ claim that council finances are healthy when Auckland Council owes $15,858 for every ratepayer? That amount alone is staggering, and that’s before any of the promised big infrastructure projects have been paid for.”
    “LGNZ need to stop spinning to protect councils and start working for the ratepayers that fund them.”
    The Grant Thornton report was earlier released on the Taxpayers’ Union website, after it was leaked to the Union by a local government insider. “Had the report not been leaked, we wonder whether it would ever have seen the light of day.”
    Ratepayers’ Report, the data of which was prepared by the Taxpayers’ Union, launched this morning at stuff.co.nz and ratepayersreport.co.nz.
    Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz

    • Elizabeth

      Thanks Jimmy. LGNZ under Lawrence Yuletideblessings has crumbled into a thoroughgoing lie-telling pillow-stuffing whistle-in-the-wind kinda outfit. Perhaps it was always that, well, if we think about Jim Harland…

  4. You need to know provenance of orgs pro ratepayer/anti local government. Taxpayers’ Union is a grassroots activist movement, at which I do not cavil, having been PSA, CW, Cleaners/Caretakers, Equity, and the now disbanded Get Those Management Bastards Out Of My Studio Union. Larry, it transpires, knows his stuff, but is fighting a real silly place called Rodney.

    • Elizabeth

      The Taxpayers Union was formerly profiled at this site. And Larry Mitchell has too; as well, he has provided comments. For more, use the search box at right.

  5. Elizabeth

    ### dunedintv.co.nz July 23, 2014 – 5:42pm
    Downward trend in local authority spending
    Statistics New Zealand has released its latest comprehensive analysis of spending by local authorities, showing a downward trend. Published today, the data relates to the 12 months to June 2013. It shows spending on core services declined from $8.5b to $8.3b. It’s the first fall in operating expenditure in 20 years. Meanwhile, the operating income of local authorities has increased by 1%, to $7.9b. Income from rates increased $90m last year – the lowest increase since the global financial crisis.
    Ch39 link [no video available]

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