KCDC — Is This NZ’s Greatest ( ie Most Expensive) Council?

C B Ruthe says the latest Taxpayers’ Union Report on local bodies reveals some stark facts.

Kapit Coast District Council HQ

( Note — KCDC frequently refers to previous reports from Taxpayers’ Union ).

The report states: 

 Rates in Kapiti average $2819.00. The national average for councils of comparable size are $2,400. 00.  Roughly 20% higher. Cost of bureaucrats for ratepayers in Kapiti is$1,136. The average for comparable councils is $972.00.  

Borrowings. Debt costs per household in Kapiti is $383.00 per year, the national average $183.00 p.a. 220 % higher. Liabilities per household in Kapiti is $10, 296.00, average for councils- $5384.00 – almost double. KCDC has the highest percentage of staff earning over $100,000 c.f. comparable councils.

Independent accountability. Most people want to know if what they are doing is right, and what their council is doing is right.

KCDC dislikes any independent professional on its committee auditing and checking on council’s actions. So, it has no accountant and no independent lawyer.

The report disapproves of KCDC- but ratepayers may think that keeping accountants and lawyers away from checking things saves ratepayers money.  

Summary:

  • Rates: 20% higher
  • Bureaucratic costs: 20% higher
  • Borrowing costs 220% higher.
  • Debt per household almost double.

Some people may worry about debt. However, with low interest rates the experts say- borrow.

A cynic might say lovers of high rates and low accountability will love the performance of KCDC. 

But, as Oscar Wilde suggests “A cynic is a person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”.

I am concerned that the relative rates rise for next year at 7.8%. With a year of low income that’s not what I need. The gateway sounds like a nice idea but what does it cost the rate payer.With respect after nearly 60 years I have not once felt I needed a gate way to enjoy Kapiti and its wonderful beaches. Less is more re my enjoyment and less rates. How about reducing overheads as said.

There can be no question that KCDC is one of the worst councils in the country and has been ever since Jenny Rowan became mayor in 2007 and brought in Mr Dougherty as her Chief Executive. That distastrous duo began a sorry record that just gets worse every year. It’s no consolation to know that that there are a few councils in the country such as Invercargill and Tauranga that are arguably even worse. What the present bunch of councillors could do is instruct Mr Maxwell to cut 10% from his operating budget, which would not be hard to do — getting rid of the present inhouse lawyer would save a considerable sum alone — but I have no faith that the majority of them have the nous to do it. The management want them to just be obsequious ‘rubber stampers’ and that’s all most of them, including the present mayor, are.

Incorrect as per usual Christopher. The council does have a finance department headed by a C.F.O, Chief Finance Officer and largely staffed by trained accountants. We have an auditor to review all financial reporting as is legislatively required and are overseen by the office of the Auditor General like all other councils in NZ.
The council does employ external legal representation from time to time as well as now having an in-house legal representative. Proudly litigation costs have plummeted since I have been on the council and we have put into place a regime of checks and management peer checks to avoid actions that may provoke unnecessary litigation.
Council has also had an external member appointed to the Audit and Risk Committee for a number of years and all sub-committees have a number of external or public members. I hope this helps clarify your misunderstanding of how the council runs. Go forth and have a happy Christmas and long holiday. Districtwide Cr Jackie Elliott

While I accept the trend shown by the Taxpayer’s Union I do feel it operates a fairly blunt coarse evaluation and takes little account of the variance between what Councils have to deal with…e.g. a small Council like Mackenzie Country with a very small rating base and those with a large administrative largely rural area like the Northland Councils. Interestingly whenever the Annual Plans or Long Term Plans are discussed by KCDC they never ever consider reducing costs by cutting overheads (which is what any normal business would do) but merely defer projects to match budget constraints.

4 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.