Local government

Goff confident National will throw Aucklanders under the petrol tax bus

Auckland’s mayor Phil Goff is confident the government will come around to allowing the city to introduce a regional fuel tax to plug a looming gap in transport funding.

A three-year interim levy on ratepayers is due to expire mid-year, and even if renewed will fund only about a third of the extra $200 million a year the council needs to spend on transport.

“I’m not prepared to treble that levy and put it on rates, which is inequitable, and there’d be huge resistance to it. There has to be some ‘user pays’ element,” Mr Goff told RNZ.

Yes, because a large number Aucklanders don’t use or directly benefit from its roads? ? Pull the other one.

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More pointless grandstanding from Labour that shows they aren?t a government in waiting

Labour really does pick battles that no one cares about.

Parliament is going to debate a Labour Party bill that calls for the immediate election of all the members of Environment Canterbury.

It was drafted by Labour’s Canterbury spokeswoman Megan Woods in response to the government’s sacking of all the regional council’s elected members in 2010.

The government replaced them with commissioners because there had been serious delays in water management decisions.

It subsequently decided on a partial return to democratic representation, and in the local body elections earlier this month seven members of the 13-member council were elected.

The government has appointed the other six.

Ms Woods says that’s not good enough. ? Read more »

Will Paula’s ‘reforms’ really make a blind bit of difference?

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Paula Bennett has come out with a loopy brain fart to perhaps let builders provide themselves with a code of compliance certificate for some specific building works.

This is all set around the National Government’s theme to reduce ‘red tape’.

The problem is that the issues facing property developers, builders and the general public are not benign issues.

If the worst problem facing the property industry and home owners – were getting code of compliance certificates then this country would be in good shape.

I don’t believe that Paula really cares much about local government despite it being her portfolio. She has gladly accepted the role from the boss – but it’s a bit of a handful and she doesn’t have a clue where to start because she doesn’t understand the issues. ? Read more »

Amalgamation: an opportunity lost

Amalgamation of Local Government is failing as communities vote overwhelmingly to reject the idea.

Northland, Wellington and Hawkes Bay have all firmly shoved the idea out the door.

Apart from the lack of trust that the people of New Zealand have towards local government officials – we all know that the real problem is the people in those organisations and the way they go about the business of running local government.

Making Councils into bigger beasts only causes to inflict further pain on communities as they become more powerful. At least whilst the Councils are smaller the damage they can do is limited.

From the outside the idea of amalgamation was to improve efficiencies and get better region wide coordination on issues. Too much replication is occurring and governance of so many local government organisations is costly. Red tape is holding back our economy. I think we all accept those things as true. But merely amalgamating Councils to attempt to remedy the issue is to ignore the actual problem. ?? Read more »

Is Local Government in New Zealand corrupt?

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With three officers from Auckland Council CCO – Auckland Transport – now set to go on trial?for bribery it is a convenient opportunity to raise the issue of corruption in local authorities.

Most ordinary citizens have no idea that corruption is rife. But there are varying types of corrupt behaviour and unless one is familiar with the law they can be overlooked.

Two of the most common forms of corruption occur so often you think it’s normal.

These two particular forms of corruption do not result in personal gain – such as back pocketing cash. But they do result in breaking the law, and they happen daily.

The first is ‘malfeasance’ and the second is ‘misfeasance’.

Both are the abuse of authority – or the position of authority.

These generally occur by breaking the rule of law. In NZ the laws that generally govern Local Government are the LGA (Local Government Act) and the RMA (Resource Management Act). Some other laws like the Public Works Act are part and parcel as well. Read more »

Infrastructure plan highlights inadequately managed local government

Bill English has released the Government’s Infrastructure plan which sets out the infrastructure challenges facing New Zealand in the next three decades. It’s an extensive list with a wishy-washy plan to tackle the issues. Nothing certain.

?”Infrastructure supports people’s daily lives, even if they don’t think about it all that often, unless something goes wrong,” Mr English says.

Well, reading the key details from the report makes for scary reading. And amongst it all is the massive cost assumed with infrastructure that Councils have not maintained. Such as the water networks (potable water and sewers) which are now 100 years old.

The costs are assumed to be $30-50 billion. Whilst that’s debatable (its only that much if local government are allowed to continue wasting money on big truncated gold-plated systems instead of adopting modern localised technological solutions), the issue is that Local Government throughout NZ is broke and they aren’t going to suddenly change their ways.

What is really telling is that the current waters network throughout NZ is estimated to be worth $45 billion. So what the Government is highlighting is that the entire waters network in NZ is poked.

Which is precisely what Auditor General Lynn Provost warned late last year.

Sadly, Local Government has got a lot to answer for. That infrastructure is so stuffed and old means it all needs replacing says a lot about the priority placed on it by Councils. They’d rather pay themselves well and employ more people than keep the basics working. ?? Read more »

Local Government wants more, more, MORE of your money

The rapacious nature of troughing politicians knows no bounds.

The recent Local Government NZ annual meeting has come up with 10 ways to pick your pockets more.

Councils should be free to set road user charges and fuel taxes, charge tourists and receive a share of royalties from mining, Local Government NZ says.

A ten-point plan has been released by the organisation after its year-long review of local government funding, and contains some radical suggestions.

President Lawrence Yule said the document was designed to spark conversation about how councils could be funded.

“We are launching this plan because local government is facing unprecedented economic and demographic change and increasing community and government expectations,” Mr Yule said.

Property rates should remain the cornerstone of funding, Mr Yule said, but other possible revenue sources were needed.

Funding has been a source of tension between some councils and central government.

In April, Auckland Mayor Len Brown’s suggestion that motorway tolls could be implemented to help fund the additional $12 billion in transport infrastructure the city needs was flatly rejected by Transport Minister Simon Bridges.

How infrastructure for Auckland special housing areas should be paid for has also been debated.

Read more »

The capital rejects super city plan because it was crap

Auckland has proven that amalgamating local government causes more problems than it solves. Rather than overcoming the road blocks and issues – a supercity governance simply adds fuel to the fire. It’s a crap idea.

A super shitty if you will.

Thankfully Wellingtonians get that and have firmly rejected the supercity proposal for the region. Because it was a stupid idea. Wellington has dodged a bullet.

But 40% of submitters still want some form of change. Hardly a surprise.

In hindsight it was the continuing high level of dissatisfaction with local government that led to Auckland becoming a supercity.

The former Councils were dead set useless, although ironically they are twice as bad now. Same people – larger more powerful organisation.

Deep inside us all we know that local government is poorly run and causes more road blocks to the economic performance of our nation than anything else. ? Read more »

Auckland Council trying it on

Transparency should be a matter of course for Local Government.

Every cent of expenditure should be published and the way the accounts are prepared should be clear. Right down to the amount of depreciation and asset values (which should be provided in list with identifying references).

The Council should show all debts including the little short-term loans that the Council provides itself interest free from different parts of the ledger. We want to know just how rotten the state of affairs are.

Auckland Council has always preferred to keep its accounts private. Mostly because they know their excessive expenditure and huge debts will raise hackles.

So what do they offer up? A chump’s two-bit parlour trick.

Auckland Council is entering a new era of openness by publishing details about the spending of ratepayer money, says chief executive Stephen Town.

He says the first publication of details of contractors and suppliers last month was part of a bid to give ratepayers better information about how the city is run. ? Read more »

New Zealand’s Silliest Local Government Spending, Ctd

Thanks for all the great entries coming through.

There are some breathtakingly stupid spending decisions, on an industrial scale.

Here is a great nomination from Palmerston North, that world famous cultural outpost. Grant Smith hasn?t been Mayor for long but he can still be held to account for this silly spending.

 

It would seem councils can spend ‘their’ money on what ever they like in this country. ? Read more »

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