Queenstown rates money spent on Chamber of Commerce
10 SEPTEMBER 2018
Queenstown Lakes District Council spent $243,325 in affiliation with the Queenstown and Wanaka Chambers of Commerce in 2017, according toRatepayers’ Report, the Taxpayers’ Union’s 2018 local government league tables, published at www.ratepayersreport.nz. The median amount councils throughout New Zealand spent in affiliation with their local Chamber of Commerce over the same period is $1,979.
Garrick Wright-McNaughton, local government researcher for the Taxpayers’ Union, says “Chambers of Commerce began as a tool for businesses to petition their local authorities. We routinely see authorities spending large sums in affiliation with their local Chamber, but for Queenstown Lakes District - a district whose infrastructure needs are widely publicised - to spend a quarter of a million dollars on a lobby group beggars belief.”
“Queensland Lakes District Council has the highest average residential rates in Otago, at $2,476 per year. Ratepayers will undoubtedly be disappointed that the equivalent of almost 100 rates bills was spent on business groups, ironically whose purpose is to lobby the Council.”
Other councils in Otago provided a mixed bag of results in the league tables, he said.
“Dunedin City Council charges the lowest average residential rates in Otago, at $1,994 per year. However, Dunedin City Council’s total expenditure across the group is the highest in Otago at $8,202 per ratepayer, suggesting the council is finding other ways to reach into the pockets of ratepayers.”
“Central Otago District Council, Clutha District Council, and Waitaki District Council have relatively low liabilities per ratepayer ($435, $506, and $956 respectively), and subsequently do not waste large sums of money servicing debt.”
“Ratepayers’ Report is available online and free of charge so all Otago ratepayers can judge for themselves the performance of their town hall.
Other findings related to Otago: Queenstown Lakes District Council spent 125 times the median amount councils in New Zealand spent in affiliation with a Chamber of Commerce. The council spent $128,324 in affiliation with the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce and $115,000 in affiliation with the Wanaka Chamber of Commerce - a total of $234,325. The mean amount spent by councils in affiliation with their local Chamber is $20,406.
Dunedin City Council’s total group expenditure is $8,202 per ratepayer. Only Christchurch City Council has higher group expenditure per ratepayer, nationwide, at $9,678.
Dunedin City Council spent $97,712 in affiliation with Local Government New Zealand - a lobby group for the sector. The city’s Mayor, Dave Cull, is the current President of LGNZ.
Clutha, Waitaki and Central Otago District Councils spent $0, $1, and $3 per ratepayer servicing debt respectively.
Councils considered for this comparison are Central Otago, Clutha, Waitaki, and Queenstown Lakes District Councils, and Dunedin City Council.