Source: Taxpayers Union
Report: Reformed fire service delivers costs, not promised savings
5 FEBRUARY 2019FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The 2017 amalgamation of urban and rural fire services has delivered huge cost increases for taxpayers, finds a new report from the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.
Cash to Ashes: The inefficiency of fire service reforms can be read at www.taxpayers.org.nz/cash_to_ashes.
The merger and centralisation of urban and rural fire services was meant to produce $47.7 million in efficiency savings by 2021/22. In practice, there have been no efficiency savings, and Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) has cost taxpayers $338 million more in its first three years than was forecast to Cabinet in 2016.
$163 million of the $205 million increase in forecast expenditure between 2017/18 and 2018/19 was dedicated to ‘Support Services’ – i.e. back office bureaucracy.
FENZ has increased spending by $43 million on ‘communications and computers’ over three years.
FENZ is spending $27.4 million on external consultants over three years.
FENZ is ‘gold plating’ its infrastructure. New stations in Lake Okareka and Wanaka cost $1.9 million and $4 million respectively, far more than comparable volunteer stations in Australia. FENZ has even opened a double-bay station, complete with training space, laundry, and kitchenette, in Tinui, a town of 20 people.
FENZ spent $17 million responding to the Pigeon Valley Forest fire – more than 17 times more than the response to the remarkably similar Hira Forest fire in 1981.
FENZ does not have to justify wasteful spending to Cabinet, as it collects revenue through the fire insurance levy, bypassing the Budget bid process.
Cash to Ashes recomm