Local government gone wrong: Wayne Brown & FNDC

We know that local government is in great need of some real reform.  We’re now getting some real examples of just how far off agreed processes local government have got.  And now we have an example of a Mayor meddling, attempting to get special attention and wasting staff resources… all while refusing to pay his own rates, charges and penalties.

The Office of the Auditor General has today released its findings in a case between Mayor Wayne Brown and the Far North District Council.  Yes, another case of a public official telling constituents to do as a say, not as I do.

It seems that Mayor Brown has refused to pay a bunch of rates and charges because he doesn’t agree with how they were calculated.  Now, by a bunch I actually mean a fair whack – at least that’s what the Far North District Council told Brown.

The Council said that Brown owed:

  • $55, 000 in unpaid rates and sewerage charges
  • $135,833 in sewerage reticulation charges

Mayor Brown’s calculation was more like $55,000 for the sewerage reticulation charges.  So, the OAG was charged with unravelling what was actually owed.

The OAG found that the likely amount owed by Mayor Brown was $76,487.09.  They also said:

We note that the Council has gone outside normal processes several times and made unusual agreements. These decisions were made in good faith to help find solutions for Mr Brown, but they left the Council in a more uncertain position when things went wrong. With hindsight, these decisions may not have been wise. The Council has also made a number of administrative and calculation mistakes, which have contributed to the uncertainty about whether it was charging the correct amounts.

And, yes Mayor Brown has asked that any penalties due in this timeframe (over two years) shouldn’t be added to his bill. The OAG suggests that Mayor Brown was not treated the same as any other ratepayer.  I’d go as far as suggesting he misused his position as Mayor:

the Council has spent a considerable amount of staff time and money on this dispute – much more than the total penalties. The Council must also consider how it would treat any other ratepayer who withheld rates for nearly two years, given that the normal legal obligation in the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 is to pay rates and then dispute them. Under the Act, penalties will generally accrue if a person does not pay rates while they are disputed.

I am looking forward to other Far North District Council ratepayers being treated with the same level of leniency and not being demanded to pay up front.  At the same time it is a bloody worry that the Council can’t work out how much an individual or their company owes?  If I were a ratepayer in the Far North I’d be questioning my rates bill right about now.

 

  • Mark

    And of course the Marine and Coastal Area Act inadvertently exempts owners whose homes are situated over water from having to pay rates. And guess whose home in Mangonui is built over the water?

    • le sphincter

      Its not his personal home, its a company which developed sections so its more comples than ‘rates’.
      One thing WO left out.

      Because Mr Brown was travelling overseas for some weeks, he left a cheque with the Council for $55,754.72 as an interim step while we completed a final calculation. The Council did not bank this cheque because it was concerned that to do so could be seen as accepting this amount as a final settlement of the dispute and so might jeopardise its legal position.

      So he did pay in advance. AS most was contributions to sewrage retic, its not rates to be paid on demand in the normal sense, but he did pay a small portion of actual rates while it was all worked out.

      All in all , a good mayor

      • trisha

        Pretty it up how ever you want, the guy is a property developer who knows all the loopholes when dealing with FNDC.
        Just another money dog from Auckland paving his street with what ever he wants.
        While millions of litres of sewage goes into doutless bay every night making rivers and the sea toxic, he concentrates on mine it drill it sell it.
        As for the supposed 20 million dollars owed by tangatawhenua none of those people are in positions of authority like mayor brown.
        good mayor…… that’s just laughable

        • Seems to me

          Seems to me that there is more to this story than meets the eye

          Presume its this Wayne Brown we are talking about

          Wayne Brown has a reputation for being second to no one when it comes to “fixing” non-performing companies, boards and corporations. Putting the lights back on in Auckland, getting Gisborne and Northland Hospital services back on their feet, sorting the digital drivers licence fiasco and delivering the new Auckland Hospital on time and on budget are among his achievements.He is also a highly successful businessman in his own right with interests in land development, television channels, surf wear and leisure clothing.An engineer by profession, Wayne Brown always wanted to be master of his own destiny. Now, as a company chairman, property developer, successful businessman, former manager of the New Zealand surfing team and a keen surfie himself, he most certainly is.Wayne is former chairman of Northland Health Ltd and was the longest serving of NZ’s hospital chairmen. He attributes Northland Health’s economic recovery (transformation from a $7 million deficit in 1993 to a $500,000 surplus in 1997) to steady progress and a focus on the improvement of health.Following the public enquiry into Gisborne Hospital, Wayne was appointed by the Minister of Health to replace the dismissed board of Tairawhiti Healthcare Ltd. He has also been appointed chairman of Vector (following the Auckland CBD power failure), the LTSA (following the issue of digital drivers’ licenses) and Auckland DHB (appointed to chair the completion of the $500m new hospital).Wayne is the owner of Waahi Paraone Ltd (one of Northland’s largest property development companies) and Coastlines (NZ’s fastest growing surf label – now in over 200 shops in 5 countries).In May 2007, Random House NZ published Wayne’s first book, “the five minute mba”. The book is a practical, witty, straight-talking guide teaching readers in ten easy lessons to achieve dramatic improvements in business.Wayne currently leads Kordia (one of the region’s leading providers of customised broadcast and telecommunications networks, network services and converged solutions).Wayne is a thought provoking speaker who loves to challenge the status quo and questions the way people and organisations do things. He encourages his audiences to think outside the square when looking to improve performance and results. He offers a pragmatic style that makes his advice easy to absorb.

        • le sphincter

          Brown has lived in the area for donkeys years.

          • trisha

            He still came from Auckland to “invest in Northland” with his auckland money dog attitude.
            FNDC rate payers pay the most in NZ and still get rorted daily
            FNDC is full of self serving imports with the worst customer services in north.
            And correct le sphincter he is a donkey

        • Nolene

          Wayne went to Kerikeri about 30 years ago. . He set up an engineering business which grew in to a successful enterprise. His kids went to school there. Hardly a money dog from Auckland.

      • KIM DOT SCREWME

        How can you bank a cheque when its not signed ?
        Lets see a copy of the cheque then ?
        The worst (and most dangerous) Mayor the Far North has ever had.
        Hes a gone burger next year anyway, but will still try to extract more self interest & financial influence in the mean time. watch this space.

    • KIM DOT SCREWME

      Wayne browns home and the 4 square next door owned by him, now being removed from Council jurisdiction and now a Heritage Trust property managed by the Regional council cause its in the sea ! see District Plan – plan change 11 going to the council meeting this month for agreement.

  • arnie

    The Tasman District Council over charged our rates by around 10% because of an error in their calculations. If I had not questioned the Council, no doubt nothing would have been done.

  • PeterS

    Just to mention that Maori landowners in the North owe $20mill.+ in unpaid rates.

    • trisha

      The Far North District contains large tracts of Maori Freehold Land which is unoccupied and unimproved.
      This land creates a significant rating burden on the Maori owners who often do not have the means nor, in some cases, the desire to make economic use of the land.
      Often this is due to the nature of the ownership or, because the land has some special significance which will make it undesirable to develop or reside on, or is isolated and marginal in quality.
      In addition, it is recognised that significant rate arrears can act as a disincentive to any new occupation of multiple owned Maori freehold land, where a new occupier could become responsible for the payment of any arrears of rates on the land.

      Section 108 of the Local Government Act 2002 (the Act) requires all Councils to introduce policies for the remission and postponement of rates on Maori freehold land.
      In compliance with the Act and in recognition that the nature of Maori freehold land is different to General land, the Far North District Council has formulated this policy to deal with these issues.
      http://www.fndc.govt.nz/services/rates/land/rating-relief-on-maori-freehold-land

  • There ya go

    Hero to Zero. Ahh the fickle nature of blogs and publicity
    http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2011/02/politician-of-the-week-wayne-brown/

    • Sarrs

      WO still called him an A Grade Prick, he just happened to agree with something he said one…all the while reminding us that he wasn’t actually a fan of the man.

      • seems to me

        Seems to me you are saying A Grade pricks are good when they do something you agree with and bad when they do something you dont?
        The logic is lost on me. But then I like to concentrate on the debate.
        Hero when he complained about process at Race Relations office.
        Zero when he complained about a Council fee calculation.

        Dont know the man or his “prickness” but seems to me to be consistent in his action. LIke Teddy Kennedy once said about his brother “Saw wrong and tried to right it”

  • Far North Ratepayer

    Don’t anyone be fooled by Wayne Brown – his interest in being Mayor of the Far North is purely self serving…he is the single biggest rate payer in the district so uses his influence as being Mayor to change policies to support his own agenda.
    I am a Far North ratepayer and am horrified that he has done all he can to delay paying his rates this long. Finally this has got out in the media!!
    Don’t get me started on his CEO, David Edmunds – employed by Wayne Brown to be a hatchett man getting the job with a 1 page CV. Edmunds is more than useless – he can’t make a decision to save himself, uses expensive consultants to tell him what he should do and blame shifts when things go wrong (because he is incapable of making decisive decisions and providing strategic leadership). But this is what Brown wanted, a puppet to do as he is told by Wayne Brown. (Edmunds was dismissed from his previous role as a CEO due to incompetance).
    Please other Far North ratepayers, see the light and lets get rid of this disastrous duo from our council in the next election!

    • KIM DOT SCREWME

      You dont vote for a CEO, dummy
      Brown has fallen out with all his past friends, senior council managers and everyone he has come into contact with. if they dont see things his way.
      .
      Narcissim is a mental state which drives people to be right all the time and never to be wrong, the whole world is wrong in his eyes, He thinks and demands special treatment, that is the nature of the illness.

  • KIM DOT SCREWME

    WHAT A LOAD OF TWADDLE.
    A STEVE JOBS HE IS NOT.
    MORE A MENTAL DEFECTIVE FROM WAY BACK.
    HIS LACKLUSTRE PERFORMANCE IN THE FAR NORTH COUNCIL IS FOLLOWED BY HIS FINANCIAL SELF INTEREST IN ALL MANNER OF PERSONAL DEALINGS UNDER THE CLOAK OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT. HE’S HISTORY NEXT YEAR ANYWAY, GOOD RIDDENCE.

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