Lawrence Yule wants more of your money

There is a storm coming for local councillors, and for some, the clouds are only going to get darker, particularly as they start eyeing up next year’s local government elections.

Local Government New Zealand today released a discussion paper about how they can get hold of more of your money. This is all being spun on the basis that more funding is required to meet the increased demand for services and infrastructure.

Quick out of the blocks was the Taxpayers Union who pumped out a release LGNZ Push For Local Income Taxes, Fuel Taxes and Regional GST.

Jordan Williams slammed the head of Local Government Lawrence Yule saying

Mr Yule is telling the public that the goal isn’t to increase the overall tax burden, but today he released a report, not on ways to save money, but on ways to tax more.

And that’s the key point.

The Local Government Funding Review says that “the right incentives and resources must be in place to enable councils to drive growth”.  

A bit further on Yule says options include “a property tax…, local income tax, local expenditure tax, selective taxes, regional fuel taxes and transaction taxes’.

One thing is for sure, once ratepayers start hearing about how they could get tucked for more money, the discussions will be more around how to get rid of councillors who are behind this.

Rate-payers and business leaders will be thrilled to hear Yule saying “an appropriate funding mix includes 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 inter-generational benefit.”

Williams is on the money saying;

New Zealand’s average rates bill has doubled in the last 20 years, tracking at twice the rate of inflation. Instead of focusing on the quality of councils’ spending decisions, this campaign is using ratepayer money on propaganda promoting new taxes.

LGNZ is a taxpayer funded lobby group representing the interests of councils. Nowhere in the discussion paper do we see a disciplined analysis of why local government spending is out of control.

This campaign is so blatant that LGNZ spin doctors are sending Mayors draft opinion pieces so local politicians can ‘leverage local media’ and promote these new taxes. The Taxpayers’ Union has been forwarded some of the emails by elected officials who are concerned LGNZ is overstepping the mark.

Overstepping the mark? You think?


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  • johcar

    “Local income taxes” – WOT???

    Although that might provide incentives for some towns in NZ to become tax havens (think Picton or Nelson as Monaco)…

    The last thing we need to to fractionalise the tax take (or increase it!)

  • Sally

    Maybe Councils should first define their role before there are talks on how to drag more money out of ratepayers.

    • johcar

      I agree – they already do far too much that is outside their remit

  • axeman

    Very slippery slope this one. There is only one answer to this and that is a resounding Bugger Off!!!

  • Win

    I bet there are local bodies all over NZ drooling at the thought of getting their hands on income tax, especially in Auckland. After all, the extra revenue would mean more money available to fund Council pay rises.

    • OneTrack

      Len will have made another mess under his desk just thinking about all those extra taxes he can load on.

  • kiwirog

    While they have been having a grand time spending money on new toys and noncore actives — covered stadiums, social housing, trams, garden shows etc — many councils also appear to have let core infrastructure degrade, so the problem is actually greater than rates doubling over a couple of decades — its rates doubling with expenditure deferred (and debt built up) for future generations.
    Its a problem only the central government can solve as lets face it ratepayers aren’t paying enough attention and even if they did, they normally only have a choice between dumb and dumber.

  • peterwn

    So what’s new. Local bodies have been lobbying for this for years. They are just wanting to practice:
    Jean Baptiste Colbert’s statement “The art of taxation consists in so
    plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers
    with the smallest possible amount of hissing”.

    They got a minor petrol tax concession in the 1970’s, but since then both National and Labour have resisted extra local body taxes.

  • Don W

    If local gov’t made blood donations compulsory the ever increasing demand for blood would bleed us dry leading to a sick society, with most of the blood collected being wasted. They have the same attitude to the rates they collect eventually leading to an impoverished society.

  • tinfoilhatguy

    Wellington City Council will be giggling like a bunch of school girls at the thought of gouging more money for no perceivable benefit to ratepayers. It’s a skill they’ve been perfecting for a long time now.

  • Wallace Westland

    Well first off most if not all of those proposals require legislative change and I can’t see that coming.
    It’s well past time Local troughi…errrr….Government was told it was time to begin looking for savings instead of ways to tax more.

    The footpath replacement program in Auckland for example is a joke as is a lot of their Kerb and Channel upgrades. Nothing more than an ongoing trough for over blown contractors to sup from.
    While at the same time the exorbitant bills from Watercare go into their little CCO slush fund to pretend ACC operates in a surplus.

    It’s time Browns clever little accounting schemes were brought to light and he was held accountable.
    Axe the socialist left wing polices such as white water rafting complexes in an urban environment and festivals for every ethnic group that might vote for Len and you’d be amazed how much money there might actually be to fix the roads and upgrade the stormwater.

    Overpaid pack of bludging thieves.

  • All_on_Red

    The National Party needs to expand and produce candidates for Local Government. We tend to let the Left have a free run and it has to stop.
    The mess which LG is, needs to be fixed big time as it is now impacting severely on all of us and, dare I say, is pretty much out of control.
    And it’s all down to the low skill level of the Councillors and the way Council staff just run rings round them and allow costs to skyrocket.
    Time for a revolution.
    Oh, and kudos to the Taxpayers Union. They’re doing good work.

  • cows4me

    What don’t these thieving socialist scum not get ? How many examples do these parasitic worms need before they destroy the very thing they pretend to endorse, growth. What weasels, what bludging suckholes !. Where are our Nation MP’s, they should be jumping on this crap from a very great height . These mongrels won’t rest till they have their gold plated bathrooms, their hundred of thousand dollar salaries, their uncountable fleets of cars, there very own kingdoms. The people of New Zealand deserve better than snake oil salesman and conman , come on government start kick some local government arse.

    • Don W

      The likes of L Yule and Brown seem to be admirers of Kim Jong un and want to implement his Ideals where the top dogs, them, get the cream while the proletariat get sweet FA.

  • Isherman

    No surprises in the list really, Councils, like Labour seem to only have one tool in the Not even a mention of reviewing costs, or low value spending eh. I still want a list of the job descriptions of the 1500 Auckland Council staff on over $100K. This is well beyond silly now, luckily they wont get the legislative changes needed for most of these new rorts, or at least they had better not.

  • Phil

    The rates have doubled in the last 20 years but so have their services. Oh hang on a minute……

  • Dave

    I think its high time to start benchmarking, lets start with……

    Total council staff (for a council) 25 years ago, and NOW, compared to total ratepayers 25 years ago, and now. I can almost guarantee the rations have ALMOST doubled – WHY

    Another Gem to benchmark. Rates as a percentage of the annual average wage 25 years ago, and the same now. Guarantee its gone up by over 30%

    Councils fleet of passenger vehicles 25 years ago and now, guarantee its more than doubled,

    Councilor and mayoral costs against the average wage 25 years ago and now, I guarantee its almost doubled.

    Total wage and salary costs plus consultant costs averaged against rate take 25 years ago and now, guarantee the costs now are 30 to 50% higher (as a ratio) than 25 years ago, especially in Auckland after adjustment for the super city)

    The issue is not the rates take, its the BS services the council is offering especially supporting the arts, and the social services. Councils need to stop the excesses, trim the fat and learn to live within their means, not adjust rates to support their desires.

  • Don W

    Councils are the ultimate monopoly where they get their revenue by compulsion and it is on their terms and we the ratepayer have to obey.They are just like a mustelid that has got into the hen house.

  • symgardiner

    Hastings District Council has always been a bolt hole for closet communists. When I was a kid they thought it was a great idea to buy Skodas… the old rear engined jobbies. All coloured teal. They also had a permanent large workshop for repairing them…. the ones that didn’t catch on fire!!!

    • Bryan

      yep this is the same hasting council that took 8 months to sort out the Mahora drainage problem with their staff sitting on their butts everytime their bosses disappeared.,What got me was a identical job was done in chch in 2 months !!! and that was before the quakes.
      Then you have crazy situation of nelson and tasman councils that are 7 mins apart and have two entire councils and all their overheads and when you pickup the tasman rates bill and see the wastewater charges stormwater charges, refuse recycling charge, shared facilities, mapua rehabiliation ,museums, DistrictFacilities,Facilities operation rate, river works, tourism activity and then on top of all that they charge a 290 annual uniform charge and then finally a general rate disaster recovery and now the question on top of all these charges you get charged the General Rate so what are we getting for that when you look at all the charges added to the bill. These councils are out of control.

  • caochladh

    Had PDB stuck to council core activities and not spent our money like a demented bunny boiler empire building for his own selfish entitlement we would not be in this position. We need a mayor who will get back to basics, prune the excess fat and dismantle the empire that PDB has built. Our council should not be involved in everything from fancy toilets to mall developments.

  • Tamaki

    The level of business expertise on councils is usually zero. They should have their functions clearly defined ( sewage, water, roads, parks and reserves etc) and resources severely limited for extraneous items. Come on John Key toughen up on this please!

    • Don W

      These council types are a hindrance to human progress rather than being a help.

  • Hardie Martin

    This is the guy who is pushing to have all Hawkes Bay councils amalgamate. Wairoa, Napier, Waipukurau, Waipawa and Dannevirke don’t want a bar of it. We’ve seen what has happened in Auckland. We await a costly and unnecessary referendum engineered by Lawrence – the man who would be King.

  • Disinfectant

    Does anyone think that the plethora of exorbitant “council fees” are not taxes?
    Of course they are.
    Edit: added word.

  • Platinum Fox

    I believe that the fundamental problem that councils have is that they are not willing to levy a uniform annual general charge (UAGC) anywhere near the real cost of providing those services to residents. According to my AC bill, the UAGC is to cover a “wide range of activities such as parks, street lighting, sports grounds, pools, libraries and footpaths”. Each council should be REQUIRED to ensure that its UAGC fully covers the cost of providing such services and to report on that as a separate account. (Apologies for shouting!)
    Instead, councils under-price their UAGCs and attempt to cover the shortfall through their general rate which typically imposes disproportionate cost on those who own higher valued properties (ignoring Auckland Council’s botched process of achieving equalisation across the amalgamated region which continues to show disparities between properties of identical “value” in different locations).
    AC’s CCOs (e.g. Auckland Transport, Watercare and ATEED) seem to have lives of their own and to be out of control. ATEED appears to have no raison d’etre, while AT simply appears to be incapable of providing transport services that actually meet residents’ needs. Councils and their CCOs should only have a mandate to provide core services.
    The other issue appears to be that “development” charges are levied for subdivisions but the income received is not applied to providing local services, rather it disappears into a general fund and is frittered away instead of being spent on building local infrastructure to service the increased local population.

  • Keanne Lawrence

    It seems apparent that local bodies large and small are suffering from the disorder as they continue to push rates up and at the same time are shackling their community with substantial debt burden. Distorted priorities are seeing to many social trappings while core responsibilities are being neglected.
    Failure to address the infrastructure needs and the expansion required to meet the growth that is building only increases costs by deferment and bending to some whim that has them chasing an “image” or should that be mirage?
    The whole model of local body funding needs to be addressed and council staff need to be instructed to concentrate on the basics of keeping the community running smoothly, safely and economically.
    The present image being gained by most ratepayers is that they have become comical as they seem to have lost sight of the true function expected of a local body. Frivolous spending dominates the balance sheet and they seem to have a mind set that people are doing better and they want a greater portion of contribution that can not be justified or qualified.
    The LGNZ is of the same mind set and needs to be taken to task about the manner in which they carry out their task.

  • DavidW

    Quite simply, TLAs are desperate to spread their income base so that it becomes more and more difficult to track the true costs of their existence.
    With rates as their (nearly) sole source of funds, each ratepayer can very simply analyse how much it costs and historical movements but if their were several sources, each with its own taxing rationale it would be almost impossible to track changes both overall and on the individual.
    Of course the simplest and broadest way to fund Councils would be to replace property rates with a poll tax which would make each individual member of the population a ratepayer of a measurable amount but that would still leave questions around commercial property, Maori property, Government-owned property etc. which as I understand it are free of TLA rates presently.