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Ratepayers' Report methodology

What is Ratepayers’ Report?

Ratepayers’ Report is interactive local government league tables covering financial position, performance, and governance information for all of New Zealand’s territorial authorities (excluding the Chatham Islands).

What is the purpose of Ratepayers’ Report?

Ratepayers' Report provides accountability and transparency to New Zealand ratepayers by allowing anyone to compare their local territorial authority with others around the country.

Where was the data sourced?

The New Zealand Taxpayers' Union working with its sister group, the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance, compiled the data in Ratepayers' Report after reviewing each council's annual report for the year ending June 30, 2016.

Other figures represent the most up to date figures available and were mostly obtained under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act.

The data has been sent to each individual authority for their review and error checking prior to public launch.

Population data is from Statistics New Zealand. 

Where did the group finance figures come from?

They are taken from each Council's annual report. It is council figures, plus all those of subsidiary council controlled organisations.

Which councils are assessed in Ratepayers' Report?

Of New Zealand's 67 territorial authorities, 66 are examined in Ratepayers' Report. That includes all city, district, and unitary councils, with the exclusion of Chatham Islands Territory Council (due to concerns surrounding that Council's workload pressure and unique position). In future iterations of Ratepayers' Report, we plan to incorporate regional councils into the analysis.

Is this the first Ratepayers' Report?

No. Ratepayers' Report was first published in 2014 jointly by the Taxpayers' Union and Fairfax Media. 

How are the councils grouped?

Unitary authorities – the 5 territorial authorities which also carry out the functions of a regional authority are grouped.

Metropolitan – the 5 large councils with a population of over 120,000.

City – 6 smaller metropolitan councils with populations between 40,000 and 120,000.

Provincial – the largest group, 27 non-metropolitan councils with a population over 20,000.

Rural – 23 councils with populations less than 20,000.

How was the average residential rate calculated?

Calculating an 'apples to apples' figure for residential rates is difficult because councils use various mixes of rates, levies, and user charges. Our approach is based on work by Napier City Council to find an average residential rate. We sent an official information request to all councils requesting average residential rates using the formula below: 

Average residential rates = (X+Y)/Z 

Where: 

X is the total of all rates (general and targeted) charged by the Council to residential properties; 

Y is the total amount of user charges or levies applicable to residential properties (for example, charge relating to metered water,  infrastructure contributions, refuse collection, fire protection etc.); and 

Z is the number of residential properties (however defined by the Council) within the Council's district or city. Councils were asked to use the closest definition (such as urban) should they have no classification for residential properties. 

While we think this approach is useful and fair, the average residential rates figure should be a guide only. It does not, for example, factor in councils' reliance on commercial rates. It also puts unitary authorities at a disadvantage. Unitary authorities (Auckland Council, Nelson City Council, Gisborne, Tasman, and Marlborough District Councils, and the Chatham Islands Council) perform the functions of a regional council and therefore can be expected to have higher rates than other territorial authorities.

Were councils consulted in the process?

Yes. Every council was sent a draft version of their respective page to review.

 


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