Ratepayers’ Report 2019: Auckland Council ranked highest in the country for average rates
Auckland Council now officially has the highest residential rates in New Zealand, reveals the 2019 Ratepayers’ Report, available at www.ratepayersreport.nz.
Auckland Ratepayers Alliance spokeswoman Jo Holmes says: “For the first time, Auckland Council has taken top spot for extracting more rates from householders than any other local council. This is grim news, but unsurprising considering Mayor Phil Goff’s introduction of new targeted rates and the interim transport levy.”
The 2019 report analyses figures from the 2017/18 financial year. Average residential rates at Auckland Council rose from $3136 in 2016/17 to $3386.64. “This is a $251 or 8% rise, compared to the nation-wide average rate hike of $90, or 3.9%.”
“The failure to keep rates under control, along with Phil Goff’s disingenuous attempt to hide rate hikes in separate charges, will loom large in voters’ minds this year. Candidates for Council and Mayor must outline exactly how they’ll rein in the Council’s bloated operational spending, and those running on rates relief need to make this commitment explicit by signing the Ratepayer Protection Pledge.”
Delving further into the report helps to explain why Auckland ranks so highly. Council liabilities now total $21,941 per household – the second highest in the country, behind only Christchurch City Council.
“An obvious place to cut spending is staffing: the report reveals that an incredible 2,473 staff are now paid more than $100,000.”
A small part of Auckland Council’s rates bill can be attributed to its status as a unitary council, meaning it funds certain functions that would otherwise be handled by a regional authority.
Total full-time equivalent (FTE) staff including Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs): 10,259, up from 10,063 in 2016/17.
Total staff (including CCOs) earning over $100,000: 2,473, up from 2,250 in 2016/17.
Number of households per FTE Staff (including CCOs): 56.24.
CEO Stephen Town: $691,154
Nick Hill, Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development: $435,000
Chris Brooks, Regional Facilities Auckland: $483,321
Roger MacDonald, Panuku Development Auckland: $588,976
Mayor Phil Goff: $273,906
Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore: $154,332
Average Councillor remuneration (excluding Mayor and Deputy): $110,636
The report also assesses councils’ Audit and Risk Committees. “These committees are essential to ensure millions of ratepayer dollars are handled prudently.”
“Auckland Council’s Audit and Risk Committee did not meet the five recommended criteria for prudent financial oversight. Specifically, there are no lawyers or accountants on the committee. We urge the Council to consider bringing these specialists to the table to ensure Auckland ratepayers know that money isn’t being thrown at pet projects without proper oversight.”
The Ratepayers’ Report has been released in partnership with the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union. Information on its methodology is available here.