Larry Mitchell

Plan to cut $200 million from Auckland Council budget

Richard Harman has the details of a plan to cut $200 million from the Auckland Council budget.

The National Party aligned centre right is about to launch another shot in its war to take control of the Auckland Council and cut back its spending.

Council candidates are about to be lobbied with a plan to cut over $200 million from the Council’s budget.

The plan has been exclusively released to POLITIK.

The proposal is the latest sign of increasing activism from the centre-right as it tries to limit the Council’s expenditure and therefore its rates.

The proposal has been prepared by Larry Mitchell, an accountant and former National Party Rodney electorate chair.

He is the father of Rodney MP, Mark Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell has been lobbying the Government for some time now to get more active in trying to limit the Council’s expenditure.

He says the Council spends 42% of its total on discretionary activities.

“Of this group of costs, Leisure and Culture alone, account for an astounding 26% or $910M,” he says.   Read more »

The Ratepayers Report

The Taxpayers Union and Fairfax have teamed up to launch The Rate Payers Report.

This is a great initiative allowing ratepayers to see how their council is performing…or as the case may well be…not performing.

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, in collaboration with Fairfax Media has today launched “Ratepayers’ Report” hosted by

Ratepayers’ Report builds on the work of local government expert and financial analyst, Larry Mitchell and his work in previous years comparing New Zealand’s 67 territorial authorities. The data was pulled together by the Taxpayers’ Union, supplied to Fairfax Media, has been checked independently and supplied to councils for viewing before its publication.

“For the first time, New Zealanders now have an interactive online tool to compare their local council to those of the rest of the country,” says Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union.  “Ratepayers can visit to compare their local council including average rates, debt per ratepayer and even CEO salaries.”

“Liabilities per ratepayer for most New Zealand councils continues to increase.  The most alarming figure is Auckland at $15,858, three and a half times the national average of $4,386,” says Mr Williams.

Ratepayers’ Report also compares, for the first time, average residential rates. The figure has been calculated using a methodology developed within the local government sector to compare average residential rates. Only Kaipara District Council was unwilling to provide the Taxpayers’ Union with the average residential rates information.

Read more »

Who should be buying Truth today?

The latest Truth is on sale today:


Who should be buying Truth this week?  Read more »

Questioning Demographia and their dodgy figures on housing affordability

Earlier today I drew attention to the faulty Demographia reports that the media have lapped up. Larry Mitchell emailed me about it:

Yes! … you have raised some significant issues of measurement, largely those related to income data concerned with the Demographia Housing affordability index.

I too have some major reservations principally concerned with the survey’s obdurate stance that ignores the influence of movements of incomes which affect Housing affordability.

I have tried, (on a number of occasions and unsuccessfully) to point out to its authors that the Demographia index/survey of Housing affordability, by ignoring income effects results in merely a good, but far from comprehensive “first cut indicator” of Housing affordability. To claim for the survey anything more rigorous than this, or to base affordable housing public policy on these findings moves toward the much more problematic.

Housing costs above all else in this context rely on many, mostly market-driven variable preferences, simply put, the matching of needs/wants with resources. From this complex situation the Housing Affordability index takes just two of the many variables, Housing costs and Incomes.  Read more »

Local Government League Tables

The teachers moan like crazy about the possibility of league tables, but if they don;t watch out an enthusiastic amateur like Larry Mitchell might draw a bead on them.

Fortunately for them Larry Mitchell likes to kick local government in the teeth. He has released the latest league tables for local government and the reading isn’t good.

Len Brown might be nominated for Mayor of the Year or some other vacuous award but the facts are his council is performing poorly.

  • The 2012 LGLT covering all 67 New Zealand territorial local authorities ‘fits’ neatly within the Government’s recent announcements of local government reforms and validates (from its data) public concerns of some poor Council performance. No Council scores higher than 36 out of 50 for the financial and economic metricated measures of the LGLT;
  • The bulk of Councils score only ‘Fair’ results (with scores of from 23 to 30 on the 50 point metric scale and are ranked in a range from 31st to 57th out of 67 compared to their peers;
  • Auckland Council has yet to provide meaningful public information on its financial performance improvement programmes. No useful Auckland Council comparisons with the pre-amalgamation financial and economic status of its seven predecessor Councils has been provided by which the Auckland Council’s comparative post-amalgamation performance could be gauged;
  • ‘At risk’ Councils – the ten poorest performers – whose ‘stats’ indicate a combination of unsustainable Council finances and/or unaffordable rates or charges include the Kaipara District (whose present difficulties are well known). Kaipara is the biggest downgrade dropping 49 places to 65th out of 67 for its metric results – plus it receives a double red traffic light downgrade warning.
  •  Hauraki and Upper Hutt have regressed, the latter has dropped 15 places to 58th … in spite of recent announcements that the Mayor and Council have declined their increased salaries!.  Kaipara and Tararua have yet to file audited accounts.
  • The ‘Southern Scots’, Clutha and Southland Districts have swapped the top two places at the head of this (parsimonious) League Table;
  • The LGLT uses financial and economic assessment ratios closely allied to the measures that by law will soon be introduced for all Councils relating to their financial management performance and public reporting.
  • The 2012 League Table indicates little overall performance improvement in 2011-2012;
  • The metric measures have scarcely moved from an average of 30 out of 50 last year to 29 out of 50 in 2012. The consistency of these results over the three or more years of the assessments suggest a reliability and robustness  of the methodology
  • Two Councils – Queenstown and Carterton are the biggest improvers both making the top 10 for the first time;

25th May 2012 … All enquiries to Larry.N.Mitchell Finance & Policy Analyst (Local Government) Phone 09 4220598, email [email protected] or see website select BASE STATS WITH TRENDZ/LEAGUE TABLE.