The Taxpayers’ Union and the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance have released this year’s Ratepayers’ Report, online government league table:
With these league tables, New Zealanders can easily compare their local council performance and financial position against similarly sized councils and types.
By setting out more than two thousand data points, Ratepayers’ Report provides transparency, so no-one can credibly claim cherry-picking or a political agenda. The league tables set out metrics such as Council debt, assets, spending and staff costs, all on a per-ratepayer basis.
Some councils do very well in the league tables, some not so much. Every council has checked its own numbers and approved it for accuracy.
Across the country council borrowing continues to skyrocket. On average, councils have increased the share of debt for each of their ratepayers by $244 – a 5.3 percent increase in borrowing in just a year!
The data shows why Auckland Ratepayers, in particular, have cause for real concern, with Council liabilities now $19,537 per ratepayer, up more than $600 since last year. This is second only to Christchurch, and almost four times the national average of $4,876.
Every dollar spent by a Council was earned by a hard working ratepayer. Ratepayers’ Report allows ratepayers to see how their money is being spent.
- Christchurch City Council has more debt on a per ratepayer basis than any other council in the country ($21,137). Auckland Council is the second most indebted authority, with debt per ratepayer of $19,537.
- The average debt per ratepayer of all councils is $4,876.
- Auckland Council pays 2,250 of its staff salaries in excess of $100,000. Auckland Council also employs more staff per ratepayer than any other unitary authority (17 staff per 1,000 ratepayers). Marlborough District Council, another unitary authority, employs 10 staff per 1,000 ratepayers.
- The highest average residential rates in New Zealand are in Western Bay of Plenty ($3,234 per year).
- The lowest average residential rates in New Zealand are in the Mackenzie District ($1,637 per year)
The report is here.
This is a valuable resource for ratepayers to check on their councils’ performance.
All councils should take it seriously and those that perform badly should learn from those who do better and regard it as an incentive to improve.
Rates are a considerable cost for most property owners and councils which take them have a responsibility to spend them wisely and ensure they give ratepayers value for money.