MIL OSI – Source: Taxpayers Union – Release/Statement
Headline: Wellington City Council compares poorly against neighbours
Wellington City Council is left embarrassed by its neighbouring territorial authorities, according to Ratepayers’ Report, the Taxpayers’ Union’s local government league tables, released today at www.ratepayersreport.nz. Metrics including total operating expenses and total liabilities per ratepayer were used to assess the Council’s performance, with Wellington City Council often ranking worse than neighbouring authorities in the league tables.Garrick Wright-McNaughton, a researcher at the Taxpayers’ Union says, “Upper Hutt City Council appears to be running a slick operation, with the lowest average residential rates, operating expenses per ratepayer, and relative staff costs in the region. Ratepayers in neighbouring authorities should be questioning why their council does not appear to be operating as efficiently as Upper Hutt City.”“If low rates are what you’re after, Hutt City’s the place to buy a house. Its average rates bill even beat the rates councils charge in the Wairarapa.”“Porirua City Council charges the highest average residential rates in Wellington, $2,612 per year. While this initially appears to be a surprising result, it may reflect the ability of other authorities to rely on commercial rates, particularly in Wellington City.”Ratepayers’ Report also reveals that Wellington City Council has the highest staff costs per ratepayer in the region. The City Council pays a much greater proportion of its employees a salary in excess of $100,000 than neighbouring Wellington councils.“One area where Wellington City Council excelled was dismissing poor performing staff,” says Mr Wright-McNaughton. “The Council dismissed 17 staff as a result of performance-related issues in the 12 months up to April 2017. According to the data we’ve collected that makes them the most aggressive in the country in terms of pushing out underperforming staff.”“With one member of staff for every 40 ratepayers, Carterton District Council has the highest staff costs in the region, at $1,483 per ratepayer. Similarly, sized South Wairarapa District Council employs one member of staff for every 57 ratepayers, at a cost of only $999 per ratepayer. Carterton ratepayers may ask why their Council needs so many more staff.””Ratepayers’ Report is available online and free of charge so all Wellington ratepayers can judge for themselves the performance of their local town hall.”Ratepayers’ Report available at www.ratepayersreport.nzNote: All references to rates in the above comments, refer to residential rates.Other findings relating to the Wellington region:
Upper Hutt City Council charges the lowest average residential rates in the Wellington region, at $2,031 (well below the regional average, $2,349).
Porirua City Council charges average residential rates of $2,612, the highest of any city council in New Zealand.
At $101,885, Wellington City Council has the most assets per ratepayer of any metropolitan council.
Wellington City Council dismissed more staff due to poor performance than any other territorial authority in New Zealand: 17. The next highest was Hamilton City Council, with seven.
Kapiti Coast District Council compares strongly, with council operating expenses per ratepayer well below the national average.
Councils considered for this comparison are Carterton District Council, Hutt City Council, Kapiti Coast District Council, Masterton District Council, Porirua City Council, South Wairarapa District Council, Upper Hutt City Council, and Wellington City Council.
Q & A
What is Ratepayers’ Report?Ratepayers’ Report is interactive local government league tables covering financial position, performance, and governance information for all of New Zealand’s territorial authorities (excluding the Chatham Islands). What is the purpose of Ratepayers’ Report?Ratepayers’ Report provides accountability and transparency to New Zealand ratepayers by allowing anyone to compare their local territorial authority with others around the country. Where was the data sourced?The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union working with its sister group, the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance, compiled the data in Ratepayers’ Report after reviewing each council’s annual report for the year ending June 30, 2016.Other figures represent the most up to date figures available and were mostly obtained under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act.The data has been sent to each individual authority for their review and error checking prior to public launch.Population data is from Statistics New Zealand. Where did the group finance figures come from?They are taken from each Council’s annual report. They include council figures, plus any subsidiary council controlled organisations. Which councils are assessed in Ratepayers’ Report?Of New Zealand’s 67 territorial authorities, 66 are examined in Ratepayers’ Report. That includes all city, district, and unitary councils, with the exclusion of Chatham Islands Territory Council (due to concerns surrounding that Council’s workload pressure and unique position). In future iterations of Ratepayers’ Report, we plan to incorporate regional councils into the analysis. Is this the first Ratepayers’ Report?No. Ratepayers’ Report was first published in 2014 jointly by the Taxpayers’ Union and Fairfax Media. How are the councils (territorial authorities) grouped?
Unitary authorities – the 5 territorial authorities which also carry out the functions of a regional authority are grouped.
Metropolitan – the 5 large councils with a population of over 120,000.
City – 6 smaller metropolitan councils with populations between 40,000 and 120,000.
Provincial – the largest group, 27 non-metropolitan councils with a population over 20,000.
Rural – 23 councils with populations less than 20,000.
How was the average residential rate calculated?Calculating an ‘apples to apples’ figure for residential rates is difficult because councils use various mixes of rates, levies, and user charges. Our approach is based on work by Napier City Council to find an average residential rate. The methodology councils were asked to use to calculate the figures disclosed in Ratepayers’ Report is available here, www.taxpayers.org.nz/rp_methodology. While we think this approach is useful and fair, the average residential rates figure should be a guide only. It does not, for example, factor in councils’ reliance on commercial rates. It also puts unitary authorities at a disadvantage. Unitary authorities (Auckland Council, Nelson City Council, Gisborne, Tasman, and Marlborough District Councils, and the Chatham Islands Council) perform the functions of a regional council and therefore can be expected to have higher rates than other territorial authorities. Were councils consulted in the process?Yes. Every council was sent a draft version of their respective page to review.ENDS
ENQUIRIES:Jordan Williams – 021 762 542Garrick Wright-McNaughton – 027 821 4603Freya Watson – 027 712 2556