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High debt, low assets - Dunedin Council a basket case

High debt, low assets - Dunedin Council a basket case in national league tables

22 AUGUST 2017

Dunedin City is in New Zealand’s top five most indebted councils, according to Ratepayers’ Report, the Taxpayers’ Union’s local government league tables, published today at www.ratepayersreport.nz. Dunedin City Council has liabilities of $15,897 per ratepayer but less assets than any of Otago’s other territorial authorities.

Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers' Union says "Dunedin City Council’s financial position is a basket-case. It has higher debt and fewer assets per residential ratepayer than any other territorial authority in Otago. Even when compared to other metropolitan councils around New Zealand, Dunedin City Council comes out badly on the national league tables.”

“It is a real surprise that Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull put his hand up to lead Local Government New Zealand in Wellington, when his own Council at home faces such clear challenges.”

Ratepayers’ Report also reveals that Queenstown Lakes District Council pays twelve percent of its staff salaries in excess of $100,000, significantly more than any other council in the region. As a result, the Council has the highest staff costs in Otago, at $1,514 per residential ratepayer.

“Not only does Queenstown Lakes District Council pay their staff well, it also has a lot of them. Its 40 staff per residential ratepayer sees the council charge an average residential rates bill of $2,490, the seventh most expensive of all the provincial councils in New Zealand.”

"Ratepayers' Report is available online and free of charge so all Otago ratepayers can judge for themselves the performance of their local town hall."

Ratepayers’ Report available at www.ratepayersreport.nz

Note: All references to rates in the above comments, refer to residential rates.

Other findings relating to Otago:
• Clutha District Council has the lowest personnel costs per ratepayer ($790), and highest assets per ratepayer ($180,696) of all Otago's territorial authorities.
• Central Otago District Council employs proportionally less staff earning more than $100,000 per year than any other rural council, with only 5% of staff declaring such remuneration last year. Nationwide, this is second only to Napier City Council (4.88%).
• Dunedin City Council has the second highest per ratepayer debt of comparable metropolitan councils* nationwide, at $15,897 per ratepayer. The council also has the lowest assets per resident of Otago's territorial authorities, with assets of only $75,422 per residential ratepayer.
• Dunedin City Council charges the lowest average residential rates in Otago, at $1,950.
• Queenstown Lakes District Council charges the highest average residential rates bill in Otago, at $2,490.
• Councils considered in this comparison are: Central Otago District Council, Queenstown Lakes District Council, Clutha District Council, and Dunedin City Council.
• Ratepayers' Report is available for free at www.taxpayers.org.nz/ratepayers_report

*Note this excludes Auckland Council as it is a Unitary Authority.


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