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Report surveys performance of councils, critical of Wellington

News from NZ Taxpayers Union
The Wellington City Council performs poorly against its neighbouring territorial authorities in many of the comparative data contained in Ratepayers’ Report, the Taxpayers’ Union’s 2018 local government league tables. The report includes debt per ratepayer, staffing levels, personnel costs, and even CEO salary for territorial authorities across the country.

“Wellington City Council employs more staff per 1,000 ratepayers than other council in the region,” says Taxpayers’ Union Local Government Researcher Garrick Wright-McNaughton. “Bureaucrats will suggest that higher levels of staffing translates to better governance – although Wellington ratepayers may not be convinced that the $1,510 per ratepayer for staff costs are worthwhile, given how Wellington City Council compares on the other metrics.”

“With the lowest average residential rates in the region, fewer staff per 1,000 ratepayers than both the regional and national average, and the second lowest debt per ratepayer of any council in the region, Upper Hutt City Council appears to be running a slick operation.”

“The only council in the region with lower debt and lower financing costs per ratepayer than Upper Hutt City is Carterton District Council. Carterton District Council also has the second highest average residential rates bill in the region ($2,847), although its neighbouring councils may keep residential rates low by levying higher commercial rates, which isn’t an option for smaller rural councils.”

“Kapiti Coast District Council has relatively low group expenditure ($2,678 per ratepayer) but an average residential rates bill only slightly above the region’s average ($2,539 compared to $2,517). That appears to be caused by its high debt and high borrowing costs. Kapiti Coast District Council has more debt on a per ratepayer basis than any provincial council in the country.”

“South Wairarapa District Council has the best ratio of staff to ratepayers in the region (employing 5.8 staff per 1,000 ratepayers) and subsequently has the lowest staffing costs per ratepayer of any Wellington region council.”

“Ratepayers’ Report is available online and free of charge so that Wellington ratepayers can decide for themselves how their council performs.”

Other findings related to Wellington:

Porirua City Council charges the highest average residential rates in the region, at a cost of $2,946 per year. Upper Hutt City Council imposes the lowest burden on its residential ratepayers, with an average residential rates bill of $2,187.

Wellington City Council charges the second highest average residential rates of any metropolitan council, at a cost to ratepayers of $2,552 per year. Tauranga City Council charges one dollar more ($2,553) – the most of any metropolitan council.

Upper Hutt City Council charges the lowest average residential rates bill in the region ($2187). Hutt City Council charges the second lowest average residential rates bill in the Wellington region ($2,235).

The highest average residential rates bill in the Wellington region is charged by Porirua City Council ($2,946).

Wellington City Council pays a greater proportion of its staff salaries in excess of $100,000 than any other council in the region (16%).

Porirua City Council spent $265,743 in affiliation with its local Chamber of Commerce – the largest spend by any council in the country. Hutt City Council ranked third on the same metric, nationwide, spending $241,256.

Kapiti Coast District Council has more debt per ratepayer than any other provincial council in the country ($10,114).

Councils considered for this comparison are Wellington City Council, Hutt City Council, Upper Hutt City Council, Porirua City Council, Kapiti Coast District Council, Carterton District Council, Masterton District Council, and South Wairarapa District Council.

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