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High rates, low assets at Whanganui District Council

High rates, low assets at Whanganui District Council

22 AUGUST 2017

Whanganui District Council performs poorly when assessed against Palmerston North City Council and New Plymouth District Council according to Ratepayers’ Report, the Taxpayers’ Union’s local government league tables, launched today at www.ratepayersreport.nz.

Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union, says, “Whanganui District Council charges higher rates than both New Plymouth District and Palmerston North City Councils. New Plymouth charges the least burdensome average residential rates of the three, at only $2,095 per year. In Whanganui, the figure is $2,336.”

Ratepayers’ Report suggests that New Plymouth District Council has enjoyed good financial management, with below average liabilities and assets per residential ratepayer above the average for New Zealand’s provincial councils.

“The same does not appear to be true for Whanganui District Council,” says Mr Williams. “Whanganui has fewer assets and more debt per residential ratepayer than both Palmerston North City Council and New Plymouth District Council. Whanganui’s liabilities are almost $900 more for every ratepayer than the debt owed by Palmerston North City Council.”

“From a transparency point of view, our staff and researchers find Whanganui one of the most difficult councils to deal with. Only Auckland and Dunedin are worse in terms of providing official information. We hope this report allows locals to have a little more transparency on how their money is being spent, and incentivises the Mayor and Councillors to demand better performance from officials. Too often they prefer to keep the public in the dark.”

"Ratepayers' Report is available online and free of charge so all Whanganui 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 Whanganui:
• Whanganui District Council charges a higher average residential rates bill than both New Plymouth District Council ($2,095) and Palmerston North City Council ($2,283). The average rates bill Whanganui residents face is $2,336.
• Palmerston North City Council’s high staff-to-ratepayer ratio (one staff member for every 44 ratepayers) and high proportion of staff receiving salaries in excess of $100,000 results in the Palmerston North City Council having higher personnel (staff) costs per residential ratepayer than both New Plymouth District Council ($1,213) and Whanganui District Council ($945). Palmerston North City Council’s personnel costs per residential ratepayer are $1,341 - the second highest of any city or metropolitan council in New Zealand.
• Whanganui District Council has more liabilities and fewer assets per residential ratepayer than both Palmerston North City Council and New Plymouth District Council.
• Councils considered for this comparison are New Plymouth District Council, Palmerston North City Council, and Whanganui District Council.


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