Kaipara District Council's ratepayers paying government appointed commissioners up to NZ$1,400 a day as rates revolt continues

Kaipara District Council's ratepayers paying government appointed commissioners up to NZ$1,400 a day as rates revolt continues
Mangawhai.

The ex-MP chairing the government appointed commissioners running the Kaipara District Council in place of its elected councillors is being paid NZ$1,400 a day with the other three commissioners getting NZ$900 per day, Minister of Local Government David Carter says.

Carter says these fees are consistent with the daily rates for the Environment Canterbury commissioners. The fees are being paid by funds held by the Kaipara District Council, ie by ratepayers, with the commissioners also having their travel and "other costs" reimbursed out of council funds.

"This cost to the Kaipara community is balanced by the fact that the elected representatives will not be paid during the commissioners' term of appointment," Carter said.

Carter appointed the commissioners in August.

They are chairman John Robertson, who is an ex-MP National Party and United New Zealand MP and former Papakura mayor, Richard Booth, a Whangarei-based business owner and farmer, Colin Dale, who was chief executive of Manukau City Council for 21 years, and Peter Winder, a former chief executive of Auckland Regional Council and chief executive of Local Government New Zealand. Their roles aren't full time.

The appointment of the councillors came after a government review team identified serious governance and financial challenges facing Kaipara District Council that were "beyond the current councillors’ ability to resolve.” Kaipara District Council's annual report for the year to June 30, 2011, only released last month, shows total debt of just under NZ$82.9 million. Of this NZ$75.9 million is through bank loans, with interest.co.nz told ANZ holds about NZ$52 million to NZ$53 million of this, with the balance - NZ$22 million to NZ$23 million - with BNZ.

Government involvement came after the council proposed, in April, an average 31% rate increase for the 2012–13 financial year largely due to a botched sewage and wastewater scheme at Mangawhai, which has led to a rates revolt thought to involve up to a third of Kaipara ratepayers. In August the council acknowledged it had been too aggressive with its proposed rates increases, and said it would instead propose an average rate increase of 19%.

A report from Carter's review team said the council had collected NZ$17.3 million of invalid rates. Furthermore, the debt incurred by the council to fund the Mangawhai scheme, which was initially expected to cost NZ$35 million but saw it borrow NZ$58 million, and other capital works, make it one of the most indebted councils in New Zealand on a per capita basis.

"The debt per capita in the Kaipara District for the 2010–11 financial year was NZ$4,436, compared to a national average of NZ$1,296 (excluding Auckland councils). The average for rural councils was NZ$1,042," the report said.

Carter said the Government has postponed the 2013 elections for the Kaipara District Council until October 2015 with the commissioners staying in place until then.

"This will enable the commissioners to adopt the 2015-2025 long-term plan and assist with the induction of the newly elected Mayor and Councillors in October 2015," said Carter.

The councillors will be reviewing the council's financial strategy, plans, rating policies, plus debt and asset management. See Carter's full answers to interest.co.nz under the Official Information Act here, plus the terms and conditions of the commissioners' appointment. And see more on the Kaipara situation here.

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9 Comments

$1400 a day is obscene, I'll do it for $500 a day!
:D
plus expenses of course....oh wait im not an ex-national toadie......oh bugger.
regards

Jobs for the boy's, is corruption alive and well in NZ?

Oh FFS, if you read the article you would see that's it's not full-time and the cost is being offset by the elected members not being paid.

When you look at the breadth of experience each member brings then $1400/day (only one person is getting that - the rest are getting $900/day) is actually pretty cheap for what one would expect is some pretty quality advice.

If we gave it to the unemployed.....we could give 14 of em a hundred bucks a day...

Yeah, lets give that money to 14 unemployed people - because they would a) really spend it wisely, and b) really have some quality advice about how to manage things properly!

The biggest idiots are the ones who over pay, the over paid, who over paid for the crap in the first place
You mean the Kaipara ratepayers?

 

Typo in Headline:

Kaipara District Council's ratepayers paying government appointed commissioners up to NZ$1,400 a day as rates revolt continues
Should read:

Kaipara District Council's ratepayers paying government appointed commissars up to NZ$1,400 a day as rates revolt continues
 

Undoubtedly the Mayor and Councillors are ultimately responsible for this financial catastrophe at Waipara D.C. but surely the staff responsible for recommending and implementing this major project must also be held accountable.  Have any Waipara Council staff resigned or been given the boot?    

what about the hegemony of developers and councils. The councils spend the public's money for the developers.

Pity I didn't see this one earlier. For the true story in Kaipara you should refer to http://www.kaiparaconcerns.co.nz/ to get a better picture of what is going on in regards to the sad state of Kaipara.

Classic, thanks for the link - good community initiative - and largely agree that a rates revolt is the way to go.  But it might be a worthwhile suggestion for those revolting to set up a community trust and deposit say the value charged on their previous rates bill + say 3% for inflation on an annual basis.  Of course the way to structure it is such that each depositor is then a beneficiary of the trust to the value of their contribution.
 
The trust would then also be in a position to seek High Court consideration of the legal issues by making use of this fund.  If found actions were unlawful by the Courts, of course the trust would seek costs and thereby recover the expenditure.  Still a risk that the Courts might not find in your favour and/or might not award full costs but the evidence is better known by your legal experts than me.  And I believe that you are right - the Courts will assess the matter against the relevant statute and nothing else.
 
The point about a trust - is that it is a sign of 'good faith' that those revolting accept that some level of rates are reasonable and due - after the alleged illegal amounts collected are subtracted from those rates already paid, and once a new rate is struck which reflects no amount charged for unlawful commitments made in the past.  The simple matter is that the lenders should likely take the hit on the "bad loans" - and recovery of those from a legal perspective from the decision makers and/or contract suppliers should be a matter for them - not you, the public.
 
A trusts existence for those who are beneficiaries might also mitigate any risk/requirement to pay penalties as might be charged to their property accounts in the meantime - as the Courts would recognise the 'good faith' applied by these property owners.
 
Best wishes - I really hope more and more of the district's population join the revolt. 

PS.  You might also try and enlist someone like a PhD student in planning and/or political science to investigate the matter for their graduate thesis.  There is a book by a chap named Bent Flyvbjerg titled Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice;
 
http://books.google.co.nz/books?vid=ISBN0226254518&id=NEU1WnNJkHgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=flyvbjerg+rationality&redir_esc=y
 
in which he studies decisions made in the city of Aalborg over a traffic planning matter.
 
If a PhD student were to 'do an Aalborg' study on Kaipara it would be a very useful addition to the NZ body of knowledge in planning and politics - and the issue of executive power in the local government context.
 
Auckland University has a large planning school.   Such a study would take many years to complete but might prevent such happening to other communities in the future.
 
 

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