Council keeps mum on payments

Waipā District Council has declined to say how many consultants and contractors it uses and how much it costs the council.

The request came from an activist group which supports lower taxes, less waste and more accountability.

The Taxpayers Union last week released its latest Ratepayers’ Report which analysed the 2021-2022 financial reports of the country’s 78 local authorities.

Hamilton had the highest expenditure on consultants and contractors out of any council at $314.97 million – almost three times more than Auckland. Waipā was one of 12 councils to refuse the request.

However, the council’s 2021/22 annual report did say contractors were used to assist where there were staff vacancies. It also noted an audit recommendation to establish a central register for contractors working at the district council that is reconciled against payments made to contractors and the network.

Callum Purves

Taxpayers’ Union national campaigns manager Callum Purves said the activist group’s report provided transparency for ratepayers and allowed them to compare their council against others.

The average residential rates across the country were $2781 – Waipā was above the average on $3194.51. Carterton and Manawatu were the highest on $3938.91 and $3713.23 and Buller the lowest on $2155.98.

Auckland’s net debt per rating unit of $17,451 represented 525 per cent of the rates’ income and its interest of $673 per rating unit was also the highest.

Waipā’s $6225 was 218 per cent and $83.48 of interest per rating unit.

South Waikato and Selwyn councils have the highest number of staff on a per-household basis – a staff member for every 24 and 25 households, respectively. In contrast, Thames-Coromandel District Council serves 120 households for each of its staff members.

Waipā serves 62 households for every one of its 339 staff.

Purves said each council was able to review and check the information for any errors.

The report was first published in 2014 and this year was the first time regional councils were included.

Other Waipā responses:

  • Population served: 59,500
  • Number of households: 21,168
  • Area (square km): 1470
  • Average residential rates: $3,194.51
  • Average non-residential rates: $4,191.64
  • Full-time Equivalent Staff (FTE): 339
  • Number of performance related dismissals: 0
  • Staff over $100,000: 70
  • Proportion of staff earning over $100,000: 20.65%
  • Staff over $200,000: 4
  • Management: 14.60
  • Infrastructure: 67.65
  • Regulatory: 41.10
  • Customer service: 97.3
  • Average salary of managers: $147,000
  • Median salary of managers: $148.000.00
  • Communications and marketing staff: 7
  • Average salary of comms staff: $67,540
  • Median salary of comms staff: $71,200
  • Payments to third parties – Chamber of Commerce: $2,418, Local Government New Zealand: $65,795, New Zealand Society of Local Government Managers $38,724.
  • Debt – Net debt % rates income: 218%, debt per rating unit $6,225, interest paid per rating unit $83.48.

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