Local Govt NZ releases discussion paper calling for councils to have broader taxing powers to bridge current gap between spending and revenue

Local Govt NZ releases discussion paper calling for councils to have broader taxing powers to bridge current gap between spending and revenue

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ’s) has released a discussion paper on council funding methods that suggests central Government fund some projects and that Councils be able to use a wider range of funding mechanisms other than rates, including local income taxes, local expenditure taxes and regional fuel taxes.

The discussion paper followed a 10 month funding review by a LGNZ-convened study group and its release is the first step in a two stage review.

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule said there was a significant shortfall between revenue and spending by councils, given they spend 10.5% of all public expenditure and raise only 8.3% of all public revenue.

“As a result, a growing number of councils face financial challenges at a time when demand for infrastructure and services is greater than ever. Local government is also an important contributor to economic growth but the right incentives and resources must be in place to drive this growth,” Yule said.

LGNZ proposed a "principles-based partnership model" with central government that included government considering the costs and benefits of decisions for local communities and co-funding costs where projects had significant national and local benefit.

“The goal is not to increase the overall tax burden for New Zealand, but rather to determine whether a different mix of funding options for local government might deliver better outcomes for the country,” Yule said.

“The sustainability of local government funding has become an increasingly important policy issue in the face of demographic and economic change. Some metropolitan councils are having to invest heavily in infrastructure to accommodate growth, while others have to maintain and renew infrastructure in the face of declining populations and funding bases," he said.

“This is alongside increasing community and central government expectations, and increasing impacts from natural hazards and environmental challenges. Earthquakes and flooding events in recent years have highlighted this.”

Other types of taxes

Yule said the paper identified options that could sit alongside the current property tax (rates) system that councils depended on.

Options suggested for discussion included local income tax, local expenditure tax, selective taxes, regional fuel taxes and transaction taxes, LGNZ said.

“However, before pursuing fundamental changes to the funding regime, the local government sector needs to assure communities that it is open to innovation in service delivery, to build confidence in the quality of its spending decisions,” Yule said.

LGNZ said it would collate ideas and responses in the second stage of the review for publication in a final report.

“It is vital that we raise public and government awareness about the factors contributing to the funding gap. The aim of this process is to identify options and alternatives to complement the funding tools available to councils and provide incentives to stimulate economic growth," Yule said.

“An appropriate funding mix includes the greater use of tools already available to local government, such as the use of prices (user charges) where appropriate and a prudent use of debt for assets that have an intergenerational benefit.”

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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Or they could spend less and cut costs by trimming their exorbitant salaries?

Thank you , concise and to the point . I could not have said it better myself

Yes, the public sector will be so much more efficient once all the high acheivers leave it for better paid private sector jobs

LOL High achievers in Auckland Council ?...... now thats an oxymoron .
Train drivers maybe  ................. of the gravy train .

train drivers are private sector employees of veolia

Yea.. Achievers of more expenditure, more debt and relentless rate increases.

Mmmm... those poor 1,500 or so working for AKL council on $100,000 + salaries obviously not paid enough to run core city services then.... need more revenue streams... Just as well the super city was going to save millions each year then.

I doubt in the scheme of things it has much of a matter on rates, or can you prove otherwise?

I bet it would, it would be over 200 million to start with (as many are well over the 100k mark), surely this could be trimmed back....

Yes , any council emplyee whose job is worth over $100,000 a year should have his/ her  job outsourced .
Most Doctors dont earn that much  
Just to put this into perspective , thats two times the Median wage .
How could a civil servant in a local council ever be worth so much ?
I cannot see how these people could ever justify such a salary in the Private Sector .
Apparently ,I have been told that  even the head of Auckland Councils' Dog / animal Control unit is on this type of salary .
Is he a f()C/?g  rocket scientist ?

I DOnt know where you get your numbers from, thin air?
GPs typical salary is about $127k+

Trainee general practitioners usually earn


per year

Experienced general practitioners usually earn


per year

Source: Association of Salaried Medical Specialists and Resident Doctors' Association.

To start with many senior professionals in say IT will be around that as a private sector salary. Ditto middle managers. 
So just why its seen as a huge and inappropriate wage for experiences senior people mystifies me.
Even if  you trimmed it say 10% 1500 salaries x 10k = 15million and not 200million.

Steven, Im not saying 1500 are on $100,000, Im saying they are on between 100-500k, so 10% is a lot more than an average of 10k each. I bet you a good many of them are just not necessary. How about publishing a full list of what position does what and we could vote on which positions to get rid of.
I do accept that dozens should be on $100,000+. I do not accept that that number should be well over 200, let alone 1000.
Honestly the cheek of sending out notice to rate payers asking how they would prefer to pay for the next round of increases (was this some 200k marketing managers idea after endless focus groups?) to AKL 'super' council, giving them a choice of a road tax and a rates increase or just a larger rates increase, I find incredibily arrogant and offensive. All this while actually cutting services.... on the excuse they dont have the money and borrowing ever more, tripling land development costs for developers and generally stuffing up the city. Honestly is our council run by Greeks?

Even if the average salary is 200k then that is only $30million, no where near 200million.
If you think a lot are not necessary than stand up in an election showing you can sack 10% of them and say a few millions. Otherwise you have no proof it is just wild speculation on your part.
I dont disagree on the rates increases being a worry, but it seems that no one is prepared to question that such increases are "essential"  So maybe this is a huge failing of us the voter.

Colin Craig already ran and did that... He even promised to donate his salary, or half it it to charity... if I recall.... managing a billion worth of property in the private sector he knew there is so much fat in the system.

"Honestly is our council run by Greeks?"

Not by culutral Greeks, but exactly the same mindset.  the system is seet in a way it self-organises like that - and without government officials doing their job to keep the arteries clear of the plaque, that's what happens....which is just a sign that the government parties are starting to suffer the same thing.  That's why any empire no matter how good or powerful eventually suffers "cell death"

Fair enough , but these in -house IT people have a terrible habit of stringing out projects way over time and budget , usually for pecuniary gain .
Quite simply , all IT development should be done externally with a tight budget and tight timelines .
Furthermore , what IT development is so peculiar to Auckland that we need to develop it ourselves .
We are a tiny city of under 2,0 million people  
We can use tried and tested systems from other cities around the world and then save on all this expensive development

My brother contracted to AKL council developing SAP (accounting software). The project was abandoned and written off but then restarted again at a later date. The manager didnt know what he was doing. When it was restarted they had to start from stratch again as the previous contractors had found SAP work elsewhere and didnt want to be 're-hired'....

Auckland Council's Annual Report is here. All the data you need for your argument is here.
Some bullet points:

  • AC total revenue was $3.267bn in 2013/14
  • AC total salary was $730m (22% of revenue)
  • Councillor and Board Member remuneration was $6.285m (not employees so on top of the salary bill)
  • 1,780 employees on $100K or higher (1/2 in the $100K-$120K band)
  • Exactly half the salary bill went to the CEO and Leadership Team)
  • The average grunt at AC is not exactly in the lap of luxury. There are 8,344 FT employees and 5,139 earn less than $60K p.a.
  • Rates only provided 42.6% of AC's revenue

So knock $200m (27%) off the salary bill at AC. Only $84m would come off rates. Divide by 500,000 ratepayers (minimum - I can't find the actual number) and that comes to $168 each off the annual rates bill. Not nothing but was it the king hit you were going for?

Fair point then. What do those 1780 people on over 100k actually do (I do acknowledge the need for some of them of course), given I bet the large bulk of the work is done by the 5,139 employees?

There has to be a management structure.

Including the person managing  the Department of DOG CONTROL , who I am told earns over $100k .
If this is true then I am outraged !
What qualifiacations and unique skillsets does such a person have in order to entitle them to such generous recompense?

I have no idea how big the dept is so I cannot comment.  Since you do it seems put up the job description and how many staff he/she looks after and the annual budget.  Otherwise you have no way to justify your comment that they are paid too much.

Yes, which is why a couple of hundred probably should be paid 100k+, but not 1780, thats just silly.

It does boggle the mind but these are group accounts so it includes AT and Watercare. ANd you've got museums, art galleries, Aotea Centre etc etc
In Auckland I imagine pretty much everyone at Team Leader level and above would fall into that group. SO this id all middle to lower-middle supervisory roles.
In addition there may be many non-supervisory professionals in fields such as accountancy, engineering and IT on those salaries and those people earn pretty much what they would be paid anywhere else in Auckland.
If your eyes should pop out on stalks look at what the elected members get paid. If at the end of their three year term they all had to write an essay on how the City of Auckland is clealry better off because of the efforts they put in most would struggle to put pen to paper.

And watch your rates go up or services go down in the medium term, as all the good staff leave for private sector jobs following your 27% wage cut.

We are not cutting their salaries 27%, we are cutting unneeded staff making up most of this.

What? Half the salaries bill went to the CEO and Leadership Team?
If so, there's the problem.

In a hydra like AC the Leadership Team will be a bit larger than the usual CEO and five faceless men in grey shoes. But yes, read it and weep.

Or better yet, read it and get mad.  That is seriously shocking, no matter whether the CCOs are included or not - it's still 50% of the entire salaries bill .. which is just ludicrous. 

Time for my long overdue rant about public sector salaries. Public sector managers should not be on parity with their private sector equivalents ever. And for one good reason: there is no risk component in their job.
Every significant decision made by a council gets the name of the elected members attached to it. Even though 99.999% of the work is initiated and performed by staff the accountability still rests with the elected members. 
Public sector managers need to be sound administrators but they are not required in real life to show any leadership especially if that leadership puts them at odds with their poitical masters. CCC have done the right thing by dropping their CEO's salary and the rest should follow as quickly as possible.

Totally agree. Where it all went wrong for LAs was back in the 1980s when NZ went gung-ho on NPM (New Public Management) theory.  This ideological direction saw policy separated from operations; it saw local body elected members no longer able to direct staff members (all matters had to be referred via the CEO); it saw the CEO able to set salaries/salary bands for all staff aside from himself/herself.  I believe it was the end of 'community' and 'local' in terms of local governance/representation.
Sure the elected members are drawn from the local community, but the CEOs and subsequently the staff (and even more so the senior staff) are moving all round the nation for the next rung on the salary scale. Working for a local body has become a "profession" all in itself and very often the people who really are in charge of making decisions are really just transients on their way to the next career move.
So, as a member of the community, if you want something done, or you want to complain about some aspect of service or charging or whatever - you don't ring your local elected representative anymore - you ring the call centre.  That's NPM through and through.

Exactly. Sadly I don't think we can ever put that genie back in the bottle.

Yes, perhaps. And of course the managerialisation/corporatisation of the 'local' in communities suits central government just fine, as local government has subsequently become the 'whipping boy' or target of much public angst.  All that takes the heat off the "centre".
Point is, local government is a creature of statute here in NZ - it has no legal or democratic authority other than that given by central government under the LGA and related Acts of Parliament.  So to put the genie back into the bottle, so to speak, we need a central government that wants to strengthen the 'local' and the 'community' in NZ. 

Agree with you on 'whipping boy'. Unfortunately I think LG have grown to like a whipping too much.
Not sure on 'creature of statute'. Hiding behind staututory responsibility and compliance issues is what they do when they don't want to take responsibility. But when it suits them they blindly ignore the law.

Obviously way too hot here yesterday. The quality of my numbers was not all that it is usually.
The CEO/Executive Team took home $3.5m between them (only two orders of magnitude out :-(  )
But the $100K+ group does collectively take home about $250m or about 1/3 of the total salary bill. And the top 35 earners collect $14m between them.
Councillor salaries total $2.3m
Local Board salaries total $6.3m

Okay that's more as I might have expected. It was hot here too - know what you mean :-)!

What makes 100k the cut-off point?
I work in IT, pretty much everyone on my floor is 115k+, with total target cash of 130k+ when bonuses enter the picture.
These are not leadership positions, just senior technical positions. Our managers are pushing 175-250k...
Paying less than that would make it impossible to hire anyone with skill.
You're welcome to think we're overpaid, but if you look at profit per employee, we pull our weight at least 4 times over, and that's considered mediocre'ish for IT.

If your reporting manager is paid more than double that of the senior techs/folks actually doing the daily grind, therein lies the problem.

I think you would find that many top IT people working on council 'development projects' are contractors not 'employees', so I'd relax. Still it would be interesting to see what those 1780 employees did do. I am totally unaware ACC had a senior IT team anything like that size. If they did work for council and were saving 4 times their pay, I'd have no problem.

I was working in IT... most of our group struggled to to 40k without standby and call outs....

4?  that is REALLY poor.  we were expected a minimum of 80% chargable time a month at $125/hour, not including out-of-hours, product margins,  or fixed-support-contract ... around 20k chargable a month.  Or top performer regularly charged out 110-125% of monthly week time (after hours stuff was on top of that and frowned on for work-life balance and burn-out care).

Sounds like a bad situation to be in, but IT is a broad spectrum. Were you by any chance in a services oriented organization?
I started out in support and network infrastructure but pivoted pretty heavily into development as soon as I could for the reason that I saw the writing on the wall, value was going to be created on the "product" side of the business, whereas working in support/services roles had a ceiling you hit a lot quicker.
Being on the side of the business that creates the sellable product has turned out to be a good decision.
I have no hourly rate though, and we are not measured on metrics like that, but on metrics like conversion rates, how well customers responded to new features, etc.
But as an individual I don't have as much of a direct impact on profit per employee (the company I work for is 40,000 strong).

Still, I think around 400k profit per employee isn't as poor as you make it to be. It covers the gamut of employees from sales, to marketing, to admin, to middle management, to HR, which in an organization of this size you can imagine is sizable.
Law of large numbers...

Another thing they could do is break up the old boys network and put projects out to tender instead of just passing multi-multi-million projects to their friends without any tenders being called for.

Yes , every contract over $200,000 should be put to Public Tender , and adjudicated by the likes of PWC , Delloites, etc

... and this is what Colin Craig wanted to do... he got dealth threats for suggesting such a thing and told he better not rock the boat...

The last council I worked for the limit was $50K. Purchases under that required three quotes.
Material tenders for large infrastructure projects were often, if not always, independently assessed by consultants (usually engineers not accountants).
There would be trouble for any council that did not tender out signifcant projects. From memory it may not be lawful to not tender out major purchases.

Im 99% sure "From memory it may not be lawful to not tender out major purchases."  this is correct.  In fact if a public body did so a vendor/contractor can actually stop it via court action and get it reviewed by a judge? that is one sure way to get hung out to dry I reckon no public official is going to risk that.

I was a bit wrong. There is little or no specific legislation covering procurement but the A-G makes the following points in his Procurement Guide (it sounds more like its the vibe of the thing):
2.41 A public entity’s fundamental public law obligation is always to act fairly and reasonably, and in keeping with the law. This imposes a higher standard of conduct than that which may apply in the private sector.
2.42 A public entity should always take account of the risk that its procurement actions and decisions could be subject to judicial review, or a complaint to the Government Procurement Development Group of the Ministry of Economic Development, an Ombudsman, or the Auditor-General.
2.43 The extent to which a public entity’s procurement actions or decisions are subject to judicial review depends on several factors, including the nature of the public entity and the decision-making framework it operates under. The courts have shown a willingness to intervene in commercial relationships in a wide range of situations to ensure that a public entity acts fairly and in keeping with its public law obligations.

Except for central govt where it's OK to not tender out for a $400M convention centre pokies contract.

Strictly speaking they did and the Auditor-General reviewed the process. But it was such a mickey mouse process I don't know how the A-G could keep a straight face.

Indeed. And not the only time that office of Parliament has disappointed - effectively failed to hold anyone in government (local and/or central) to account for major stuff ups.

Cough cough *Kaipara District Council, Dunedin City Council....* (snigger snigger)

Their job is to maintain the perception that they hold people accountable but to under virtualy no circumstance actually do so. 
Think of the OAG as part of the government's PR machine and you won't be disappointed with their performance.

It wasn't a stuff up, that implies it was a mistake.  The convention centre was pure crony capitalism. John Key had a private dinner with Sky City, and can't recall what was said. Then they went through the tender process where only Sky City was given the unwritten requirements, and then Sky City was selected as sole supplier to proceed beyond the Expression of Interest stage because they were the only ones that met the requirements that none of the other tenders knew existed.  You can't tell me you think that was an accident? 

Government is run by people who have gotten as far as they have in politics by learning to rationalise all kinds of corruption in the name of the greater good

From memory it isn't illegal not to tender our significant projects, but it is a heck of a political football.  I remember big cry mid 2014 over a council that got a significant work undertaken wish I could remember who. I don't think it was Auckland and the Father Xmas.

But yep all the scoialist hangers on gave hue and cry over not havng a chance to bog it down.  It should have been endered out, and the people who did the job probably shouldn't have.  Can't remember the ending so it must have got a quick rug sweeping.

But they do put them out to tenders. lots of tenders, and lots of committees and lots of reports.
And if someone comes in too low, then often they don't know the extra demands of the job, so get dropped from the tender.  Where the regular contractors, often with connection to people inside the job, have much clearer idea of what the difficulties will be, and which areas they can add extra contingincy or promote (eg if you know the "decision makers" are older and conservative, you can put a harder sell and premium on the safety parts.   If the decision maker is a young gun or trying to impress some shareholders, you can put in some "future targetting" and price those in.    Remember most of the time you're not talking about making pockets full of cash, just a steady commission on more and more work).   Make your BIG profit on the landed fish - the re-work, the touch ups which come out of other parts of the budget that can be snuck in, or cant be turned down.

  All our techs got a sales briefing, and taught ways to identify the real decision makers and their connections - especially the puppet masters, and meeting generals, since often the Sales people couldn't be seen to interact with staff as openly as the techs could.
It wasn't anything industry espionage like, it was just things like which city office was actually pushing a project, which internal politics had which parties "in the limelight" and who was unpopular or like to just get attention from sales people to feel important.

Not sure about all projects, but with IT it often costs more to write a document defining exactly what needs to be done than it does just to do it in house. 

By my calculations if you gave them all a 20k pay cut you would save each household about $30 a year. Do you really think that's the solution, or are you just a bit jealous because you don't have the skills to do one of those jobs? 

uh...so we are already seeing that rates are rising at 5%? ish per annum, wages way less, so the Q is why is council expenditures rising so fast?

That is the question.  Council needs to look at that, instead of more ways to get money.  The trouble is voters want all the dumb shit that councils do.  Otherwise they wouldn't vote for all the waste.
The Big Lie is where they claim their goal is not to increase the overall tax burden.  What a load of nonsense, if they didn't want to increase the overall tax burden, why do a study to look at the various ways they could do just that?  Welcome to the world of Newsspeak.

Not just the 5%+ they want but also the debt is balloning as well.
Some of it I can understand, central Govn simply shifts  the costs of them I believe, so we pay via rates and not PAYE.  In either acse we pay.
"newsspeak" indeed. 

SKUDIV,you are partly correct  the problem with many voters is they dont have to pay anything for all the dumb stuff they want for free  ..........nothing  at all .
47% of Auckland families are tenants , so they are quite happy to vote for the left-wing council that offers heaps of free stuff .
The Brown and Co are happy for the lolly scramble , they dont have to worry because you and I just pay
The burden of payment falls on young families struggling with mortgages , and Brown throws it at the poor or  unemployed or indigent or Iwi , or  minority or special interest group .

Of course no one says "vote for me and I'll increase waste 50%"  the odds would be higher on them being lynched than getting a single vote.

I guess they need to pay for all of the development needed to house the thousands of people moving to Auckland every year. Do you think if 1 million people moved in tomorrow the council could build all of the roads and infrustructure with a simple 1% inflation rates increase? 

The Mt Eden state house sculpture sums up the ineptitude of the nations councils.
You get given $1 million dollars by private enterprise for a piece of local art work. You choose to spend $1.5 million, half a million having to be underwritten by the rate payers. Madness. I guess you can't really expect much when you claim to have to pay these CEO's $500k + a year for essentially reverse budgeting the books each year. 
Get back to keeping the libraries open, the parks mowed and the sewerage and rubbish collected. 

There is some truth in this. 
The so called art spending seems to be there to pander to a % of the popualtion who wont pay for it themselves.  I seem to be seeing that user pays only applies when its the poor or those with no political clout do the paying.  The second the well off/connected dont want to cough up themselves they get a subsidy from the rate payer. 
In saying that just what is the % of art spending in the budget and is it growing at a tremandious rate.  If it is small then this is simply a distraction.  BTW of teh councisl I know about all charge for bin bags as an extra not in the rates. In effect an extar $250 a year in rates by the back door.
Then we seem to see the sports stadiums and other large costs, just why?  What about smimming pools? yet these seem to be hogged by the single professional well paid 20~30s something using it for swimming length exercise. The Q is why do they get cheap exercise?  I like to take my kids there to let them play and they get restricted to let the "adults" get un-limited.

Swimming pools encourage excercise, which help keeps those who use them healthy, there should be more built. 
Take your kids to Parnel Pools Steven...lots of room for your kids. (By the way how do you know the well paid Professionals taking up all the pool space are single)?

I have no problem encouraging exercise, my point as per art is that some people can afford to pay but seem to wish not to while others cannot.
Second so yeah sure lets take a long car drive instead of the train.  Also they can get to the local pool themselves at any time not needing me.
Single, may or may not be I meant it more of without childen than single, an attitude thing "we've paid to do exercise why are those kids getting so much space to play?"   I had this standup argument in the last year or 2.  
Though we are digressing a bit here....my concern is a) mis-spending and affordability of rates/taxes, it seems to be on an un-affordable trajectory.

cool... tehn those who use the swimming pools can pay for their maintenance and staffing.  What dooes that work out to be per hour of use.  $50/hr?

On average charges cover about 40% of the true cost of a swim. Rates cover the rest. So your $5 entry charge would be $12.50 if it was true user-pays.

Thank you Calvin , did you see that awful piece of art that looks like a pizza oven at the Albany Park n Ride bus stop.
We paid $150,000 for that eye - sore .
It borders on criminal negligence   

In this day of internet access for research, Kindle for reading and second-hand bookshops and TradeMe for bargains on hardcopy books - what is it about libraries that suggests they are any longer deserving of being considered a necessary public good?  They are a significant cost.

Don't you like our quaint Victorian museum pieces?
Our councils are so good at providing Public Hygiene, eliminating Nuisance, making it possible to go for a brisk walk outdoors in stout walking shoes, providing places for manly team sports, and last but not least, improving our minds through letting us read the Great Books and gaze upon Great Art.

They were a public good to disseminate information and for easy access to reading material, so to expand minds (what use is everyone having to purchase an object that might only be used once or a few times)  and to help the young develop learning and thinking skills.  To act as a archive information source for great philosophies to be shared.

Last time I got to go to a library (most are only open during working hours, so those paying for them can't use them much).  It was full of Video recordings, Music for entertainment, flashy magazines and Internet access (free for young people who weren't doing research).

 Waste of other peoples forced money (all keen for anything , if it is with privately and freely given donations)

Although the growing populations are making better uses of the parks, which are much better maintained.

But Councils, with their legislative power to take money, MUST learn to stay within budget.  They are dreadfully inefficient and are _famed_ for having no financial understanding of their want list.  This is clear the case of central government needing to show them tough love (and to stop loading them with stuff they can't afford)

How about we increase the number of electorates, make them smaller, only have electorate MPs (no list freeloaders) and get rid of elected local government entirely

What does this achieve?
BTW how is removing 14%+ plus of the populations right to representation work?

Is that the 14% of the population that can't vote in the general election?
what it would do is remove a layer of government that is of dubious value and make better use of central government mp resource

Cant vote for the party of their choice, yes, plus NZF voters so 22%?
MPs time are arguably already occupied fully.
I dont consider local councils of dubious value, mostly. In fact I would consider them more useful than central government.

Bollocks , Steven , have you ever attended a Local Board meeting ? What a monumental ball grinding waste of time, energy, effort and hot air  .
Local boards are of no value , produce nothing whatsoever and are just an expense item ,  not just dubiuos value , they are of ZERO value .
Little is achieved by them  , for example there are stupid arguments about Vector ( the power line owners ) cutting the tops of tea  trees to stop the cables breaking .
Would they prefer we did not have electricity ?
Most of the meeting is wasted discussing handouts for pet projects and special interest groups .
And the hapless Auckland Ratepayers just pays and pays and pays

My parents used to, yes.  I got dragged along and met enough stiffs not to wish to repeat it. however over the years I have met more stiffs in business so I conclude that really there are lots of stiffs, LOL.
Local boards are there to represent people locally.  Are they the best way to acheiev this? well come up with better.
Cables, yep no argument, I guess there is in-efficiency, I guess that is just humans.  Further the resident who owned it should pay the cost of the trim btw.  I trim my ones or have removed them when I bought the house to eliminate that.
"wasted discussing handouts for pet projects" which is back to my comments earlier. I'd postulate that the people who are the councilors are frankly the only ones willing to waste their time because they are determined to get what they want.   the rest of us want a life....however wecant just get rid of it as the alternative is to be dicated to by central govn, which is even worse IMHO.

My parents also got involved on Local Boards but gave it up in the end.

Quite basically, all the clusless wannabe's who want a handout hang around expecting to be given money for projects...
Or are the interfering morons who just want a oar even every decision and every project because they feel they need to, with no idea about the market, the industry, the money,  they're like the fat Maori elders with much mana who dominate Hui's and Marae speeches with what used to happen, who they are and how important they are (and so the next one has to stand up to be just as important; and then everyone runs out of time).

Anyone who actually has a business clue or is used to self responsibility quickly gets sick of the stupidity and their responsibilities take themselves elsewhere.   The idiotic hot-air types, never have anywhere else that they have to be.

It's a completely disfunctional system, but that's  the danger with that kind of social leadership, where there is no accountability or personal risk involved.  Those with the least resources and least clue have the most time to waste being involved.

I think that the move to amalgamate local bodies has :-
Has lead to an executive that is so large and powerful that councilors have no control over them.  The councilors are infact managed by the executive so they are free to bloat their empires and persue their whims virtually at will.
They have created organisations so large that the managment skills required for efficient and effective managment are beyond skill of the people doing the job.  I suspect that the size and cost of running a council executive grows exponentially with the size of the city.  (beyond a certain critical mass size)
Has changed the democratic process to something more presidential and has undermined the collegial consensus based nature that councils used to have.  I.e. we seem to attract egocentric dick heads as mayors beacuse the publicity and marketing required to win a mayoral campaign seems to favour these types.  These sorts of people seem to be prone to feed their over inflated egos in all manner of grandious projects at the poor old rate payers expense.  Judging by the recent Auckland mayors they seem to have big problems with honesty..  And those are just the things that have made to the public media.  Heaven knows what is going on that we don't know about.
Give me a smaller comunity any day, where the council is far more accessable to the public,  hands on and more than a match for the executive.

Precisley Chris , we should restructure Auckland council , fire everyone and make them re-apply for their jobs .
I am sure we could get rid of about 1 in 5 of these overpaid people this way

Exactly. Yes.

I guess the goveronment can double up the GST (30%) so it can boost the tax income greatly.  :P

NO , NO , NO !
Our tax system is complex enough without introducing new taxes at a local , provincial or regional level .
Compliance is already a time - consuming nightmare that takes you out of your business for hours of productive time  .
Councils need to live within their means just like the rest of us
Its clear to me that these officials have  never had to actually earn a Dollar, in other words make one dollar become two.
They seem to think that all of us in business have a money tree we can piss on each day and it produces fruit in the form of Dollar bills of all denominations .
They have no clue how hard it is to make money
The issue I have is that these taxes are the thin end of a wedge , they become ever-more burdensome and complex over time .
Even with our current tax system it takes hours each  day , week or month to comply with the existing tax payments , time that small busnesses do not have.  

Not just business, I wonder how those on a small fixed income cope and think that will be me one day.  So 5% rate increase alone per annum is a doubling every 14 years. Now councils want even more tax income streams, I guess its because they see rates incrases as a clear vote lower for them so want to do it by the back door instead of being held accountable up front. 
In a word dishonest.

True Steven

Thats exactly what its about.

but salaries isnt the issue IMHO.  Very top salaries mind you, probably yes. 

"Councils want Broader Taxing Powers" Thank God we have Paula Bennet as Minister of Local  Govt . She is a no-nonsense individual who calls a spade a spade and will put them right in their place .
She will tell them just  where to "........off" to in  good West Auckland parlance .

Councils (particularly Auckland) could start by demanding that government take back the poisoned chalice of various social problems they have been dealt or be prepared to fund them directly.
For a start demand that the Government be prepared to eiher find the capital needed to fund excessive population growth that could more easily be controlled centrally or exercise those controls.

I have no argument that the present revenue system is unfair (in general on the ratepayers) and needs changing, but oh the irony.
Remember this is the LGNZ who's members voted unamiously to reject changes to the LGA ie they were happy with the present system.
Now that changes are going to happen and they will lose some control, power, and revenue (the fact that costs would be lower than revenue lost is not the point for the LGNZ), they are all for new revenue sources, not only to increase revenue, but to give them new powers and therefore control again.
They are like the ebola virsus in that they can mutant quicker than Central Govt. can come up with a cure.
They totally miss the point which is they need to cut back their bureuacractic empire, get out of businesses they have no expertise in, trim back their costs, lower their staff numbers which yes will mean that management won't be paid as much. Yes revenue will fall but costs will fall faster and the ratepayer will be nett better off.
Until they learn how to do this, then allowing council further powers to collect revenue would be like giving coke to a crack addict.

..unfortunately in politics to get elected again and again you need to be an extrovert - being seen doing stuff /opening stuff/promoting stuf//approving stuff (i.e spending your money) This gives the populice the impression of a leader, a go getter a mover and shaker..A man worth voing for!
The guys we really need are introverts...those who can get on with, who don't need their backs slapped all day long, who don't pine for the power and limelight.  But these sorts don't win elections....

Thank you  Rastus , we need to ask of these people in Local Govt , just who the hell do they think they are ?
They have in my generation moved so far from their traditional , that they no longer provide any of the functions they did before .
Councils should stick to maintaiing the parks and libraries , cleaning the streets , processing sewage and collecting the rubbish .
Thats it
Every other function should be outsourced or left to the free market.
Why are we even subsidizing public transport ?
Many people dont use busses  becasue its too expensive , or too erratic, or too disorganised.  
Let the market decide what a bus fare for a route is and let the market decide what mode it wants to use .
Dont ask me to subsidise something as awful as those vintage rusty smelly dirty brown Birkenhead busses

I guess you don't want rates to subsidise roads as well? I reckon if Auckland Transport ripped up every square metre of road and sold it off to developers the council would be so flush with cash we wouldn't even need to pay rates. 

Simple stop spending our money on grandiose projects...
All the hacks that can't achieve anything themselves wind up in local government agencies and find ways to spend other people's money on projects that make themselves feel better.
We need John Key to appoint his mate Paul Henry as the "Rates Czar"!  He'd sort Len Brown out...
Cycle projects, rail projects, parks, esplanade reserve, unnecessary street upgrades, fancy offices, new libraries and galleries, stadiums, pools, recreation facilities etc etc all cost millions yet a small number of rate payers are expected to constantly fork out for a new project every time councillors get a spare moment to dream one up.
Zero rates should be council's goal.  That is assets producing enough revenue to pay for services.  It is entirely feasible.
In ChCh for example with perhaps 150,000 rate paying properties we are being told to pay for $100m projects here there and everywhere.  Each of those is about $700 for each and every ratepayer.  We can't afford it.  Cut the crappy spending, a few small spending projects are fine, most agree we don't need the big ones...

Yeah lets live in a crap hole so you can save a few hundred dollars every year on rates

I'd rather have smooth roads than indulgent facilities and stadium etc...
Parks were perfectly fine when they were lawn and trees...
Careful spending would actually give better cities...

So you measure the quality of a city by how smooth the roads are? Luckily voters have higher aspirations for their city than you do.
The reality of it is that if you want to attract and retain young, skilled and or talented people to a city, you need to have a vibrant exciting city centre, nice parks, stadium, etc. And if you don't want to attract those people, the city will very quickly end up with a large proportion of retired and unemployed people, and the rates bill once spread among the smaller percentage of working people will be no less than now. This can be seen in a number of smaller cities around New Zealand that have done their best to be as dull and cheap as possible and are now paying the price. 

You have to have lived in Christchurch for the last four years to get Chris_J's point.

Hi JimboJones.
There are no dull or boring places, there are only dull and boring people.
It is interesting to note that the more a persons personal space is degarded AKA higher density city living, the more that city has to do to keep them entertained. 
The whole concept of bread and circuses relates to cities like Auckland. The purpose of course is to give you some happyness to over come the unhappyness with other aspects of your life like having to work longer hours than neccessary to pay for overflated mortgages and rate demands etc.
As that great philosopher Russell Crowe asked, 'Are you entertained?'

Paula Bennet will stop this stupid idea before it gets any traction . We cannot have our tax systems bastardised by a new raft of  local govt taxes, levies and charges that are the domain of central Govt .
Quite simply , Local Councils MUST live within their means , just like the rest of us .
To widen their ability to collect taxes willy-nilly is a non starter .

Our household payed about $50,000 last year in tax to the government, and about $2,000 to the council. Remind me, who needs to live within their means?

The Left Honorable Sir Larry Fool, president-for-life of the Small-Nation Association For Urbanista (SNAFU), has recently spoken out on behalf of the vast majority of TLA employees who feel under threat from public demands of accountability, austerity and productivity.

'Let me be perfectly clear', Larry said.  'Employees are not elected, so youz ratepayers cannot vote us out.'

'And, speaking for the sector as a whole, the unique mixture of temperament, capability and ethic which we collectively exhibit, means that we just so totally justify our current remuneration.'

'Plus, our union will bite the generative bits off of any person, body, association, company or collective, which publicly expresses a contrary view.'

'Our main issue is that we just don't have enough moolah to pay ourselves even more.'

'So we are looking for ways to reach deeper into your undoubtedly capacious wallets.'

'Please assist us in this totally essential endeavour.'

'And, as well, we as the embodiment of all local authorities, fully intend to devolve to small local groups, the multitude of tasks and of course costs, that we cannot be arsed to bother with any more.'

'And in doing so, it should go without saying, we will retain and extend our present perquisites.'

'Over to you, our funders'.

'Turn out your pockets!'

Just stop it, Larry. No one cares. And I mean no-one.
In 2001 LGNZ identified declining engagement of the community with their councils as a strategic issue - translation: no-one cares about us anymore
In 2014 Larry himself acknowledged that an actual survey of real people revealed that the sector had a "reputational problem". No s**t, Sherlock?
It's too hot today I just can't be bothered immersing myself in this extra blast of hot air from the sector that specialises in hot air.
What everyone else said (probably).

"reputational problem"?
If presume that if we had been talking about India or China we could been more direct and instead of "reputational" used "fraud and corruption".

Easy there, Colin. We're still at stupid and arrogrant. Long way to go before we hit "fraudulent and corrupt" in any meaningful way.

Earlier you mentioned Dunedin. Wasn't that where council vehicles were being sold for private gain? Is that still at stupid and arrogant?

Quite right but it's still a long way from individual cases to systematic fraud and corruption. After all, cases of internal fraud turn up all the time in all sectors.
But we are in a period of soft corruption now by which I mean public sector entities losing their way, forgetting why they are there. In the case of councils it is painfully obvious to everyone except them that councils are no longer working for their communities. Housing is the prime case in point. Councils really are the root cause of unaffordable housing but councils would rather preserve their own political interests than do the right thing by their communities. In my book that is a form of corruption.
Of course councils have a "reputational problem". With the exception of some smaller rural councils most councils are now regarded with suspicion by their own communities. And rightfully so.

Now - I am really only joking..................
This is about a new proposed (EXTRA) TAX - and it seems to have degenerated to be all about Auckland, Auckland, Parnell and Auckland.......
Maybe we New Zealand tax payers  need a change of national landscape!

we could increase the council revenues by localising a tax at local government employees and/or other non-private sector employees....

Will have been mentioned here already but the boss is looking at me funny so I cant read through everythnig.
Performance based incenetives based on industry standard KPIs - like the rest of us have to put up with, would be a great start. Implementing this will start a hearts and minds battle to win back the rate payers fiath in that those in the job of running the city are doing so based on performance, not votes, not who has the richest mates or those that can slap themselves in the face the hardest.
If you dont perform you miss pay rises, start everyone on higher than average salaries on a salary freeze for 2 years then lock in a scheme where you obtain targets in project management, budgetary, cost savaing etc and upon reaching those targets - std and stretch, you get a % increase either a base level increase or a bonus.

Rates are an archaic way of collecting local taxes and should be replaced by direct taxes, an example of this stupidity is the fact that the FNDC spends 70% of rates collected on local roads.
The question is should only ratepayers use the roads as only they are paying for them?  Well that would be stupid, so that 70% should come from all users and the only way to do that is to remove local roading costs from rates and replace it with a tax on petrol.
This could be collected in the same way as GST and distributed to councils based on the Km of roads in the district.  This way it will capture all users of the roads, not just the few ratepayers. It would also be easier to monitor contractor.
To back up my argument,  imagine two houses that are exactly the same, next to each other.  In one is a retired lady who uses her car once a week to go shopping,  next door is a family of five each with a car they use every day.  Is it fair the the lady living on her own pays the same as next door,  of cause it is not.  New Zealanders are fair people and should work to change this old fashioned nonsense.  Saying it cant be done is not an answer.

Well I'm not using your roads, and don't intend to.  So what is the wear/usage cost of passing over them...say 4time in every 5 years, compared to the traffic requirements for locals and their sustainance and entertainment.
 Clearly those people living in an area have much more use of a road than others not in the area - and if you're going to charge me for your roads, I want a say in how that money is spent. 
 Arterial State Highways are different...that's why they're called State highways.

It's hard to put together a decent model because areas are so different.  Massive Auckland traffic, short but wide very expensive road surface...but massive population to pay for it.
Should they be financing, or financed by, Mauriceville or Haast, who have cheap but very long roads per capita that need constant maintainance?

The difficulty with your example, is one can't proportion a road.  It is either there or not there.  It cost the same to put in a road to be used once as it does for a road used many times.  And who gets to decide the quality of the road (smotth seal for modern hybrids? cheap volcanic coarse?).

I am not saying that is fixed in stone,  it is an idea.  It could be that you pay the tax when you buy petrol in the area, easily identified by Petrol Stations.  For FNDC the amount of people here on holiday and pay nothing and use the roads is a drain.  The main point is that all road users should pay not just ratepayers,  do you agree?

Toll the holiday highway's, with those registered as ratepayers in those regions exempt via the contribution they already pay in their rates? PPP on new developments/rennovation of current infrastructure?