The Taxpayers’ Union this afternoon announced that it is offering a lawn mower to the householder who can provide evidence of the highest Auckland Council percentage increase in rates and user-charges.
We understand that some Auckland residents have suffered cumulative rate increases of over 30 per cent in the last few years. At the same time the Auckland Council is reducing services such as berm mowing.
We are worried that while Len Brown is hiding behind the ‘average’ figure of 2.5 per cent, this is merely an attempt to disguise just how much extra some Auckland households are paying. It ignores, for example, increased user charges.
The proposed rate increase is almost double the rate of inflation. Aucklanders should be expecting more, not less, services from their Council.
The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union Incorporated seeks rates and user-charge invoices for Council services showing the total uncapped percentage increase in rates and user-charges since the 2011/2012 baseline. The resident who provides the largest percentage increase for the same property, as determined by the Taxpayers’ Union, will win.
Documentation must be sent to the Taxpayers’ Union, PO Box 10518, The Terrace, Wellington. To be eligible, entries must be received before 5pm Friday 29 November 2013.
Entrants are only eligible to win the prize if they include their contact email and phone number on the documentation entered, are willing to certify the accuracy of the documentation provided and are willing to have their name publicly disclosed.
Please contact the Taxpayers’ Union (via firstname.lastname@example.org) if you require further information.
The winner will receive a CraftMaster Petrol Lawnmower model KM375PM, or similar.
The Taxpayers’ Union decision on entitlement to the prize is final.
UPDATE: Please scan and email your entries to email@example.com as any sent by post will no longer arrive in time.
The Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that the New Zealand Transport Authority's 'Drive Social' campaign cost taxpayers $1,492,395 on advertising, $985,019 on communications and advertising consultancy fees and $301,872 in other related costs. This website alone cost $186,142.
The 'Drive Social' campaign was organised by NZTA to educate road-users that they “share the road with other drivers” and instructs them to “be considerate” (we're not making this up!).
We think that the funds for these sort of self-evident campaigns would be better spent on improving roads or preventing drink driving. The Taxpayers’ Union asked the NZTA to provide cost-benefit analysis of the campaign. Instead, it could only provide us the costs to the taxpayer and ‘media monitoring’ reports.
We can all support advertising efforts to reduce the road toll, but here is an agency spending nearly three million dollars to tell drivers that there are other drivers on the road. It’s bureaucrats spending our money to treat us like children.
Complete with a condescending tone and nursery rhyme-like music the ‘Drive Social’ website would insult the intelligence of most drivers. Judge for yourself at www.drivesocial.co.nz.
Here is an example of one of the campaign billboards:
Union not a party in the making The Nation - 2/11/2013
Union not a party in the making The National Business Review - 2/11/2013
The country’s newest union will never become a political party, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union co-founder.
Jordan Williams, who co-founded the union with Kiwiblog’s David Farrar, said it was a bottom line of his involvement that the union wouldn’t become a political party - and if it ever became one, he would leave.
The Marlborough Express covers the figures on website spending released by the Taxpayers' Union
showing that Marlborough District Council spend three times as much as Nelson / Tasman / West Coast combined.
Council website 'astronomical' cost 'Marlborough Express - 31/10/2013
Council website 'astronomical' costThe Marlborough District Council has spent more than $400,000 on website redevelopment over the past two years, nearly three times as much as Nelson, Tasman and the West Coast put together.Figures released by the Taxpayers' Union show that only Auckland Council has spent more than Marlborough on website upgrades since July 2011.Councils of a similar size to Marlborough, like Kapiti Coast, Upper Hutt and Wanganui, have all spent less than $15,000.In comparison, Dunedin City Council spent only $35,520 over the same time period.Wellington City, which redeveloped its award winning website earlier in the year, spent almost $100,000 less than Marlborough.Taxpayers' Union executive director Jordan Williams said the astronomical amount was potentially a huge waste of ratepayer money.''Even if we assume that half of Marlborough's residents have actually visited the site, it would probably have been cheaper for the council to pay for a taxi for them to visit the office.''Council acting chief executive Mark Wheeler defended the spend, saying figures released by the union were not comparing apples with apples.The council had undertaken a major upgrade, involving the design and development of three separate websites, in the last two years, while Dunedin, for example, might not have carried out any, Mr Wheeler said.''Maybe they will do it next year, or did it five years ago,'' he said.''You cannot compare how much has been spent over two years and say one is more efficient than the other.''The figures did not take into consideration the services being provided on the websites, Mr Wheeler said.The total cost of $410,550 covered the redesign of the council's website and the electronic access to property files, the development of an on-line payment and application system, the redesign of the separate Marlborough District Libraries website, which serves Blenheim and Picton, and the establishment of a Marlborough Youth website, he said.Providing on-line access to thousands of property, building and resource consent files held by council was a major project and involved much more than a few tweaks to the existing website.''The work is an important part of the council strategy to improve on-line customer service and, in fact, the on-line file access has been a first for local government in New Zealand.''Other councils would likely have to follow Marlborough's lead over the coming years, he said.Mr Williams said the amount spent by Marlborough District Council on its three websites was still excessive.''Even if we did divide the amount by a third, the amount spent by Marlborough District Council is still astronomical compared to other councils of equivalent size,'' he said.The Taxpayers' Union website cost $7000 to develop, Mr Williams said.''We cannot figure out how they spent so much, even on three websites,'' he said.''It's a nice website but it's not space age.''
Twelve Questions: David Farrar The New Zealand Herald - 31/10/2013
3. And now you've set up the NZ Taxpayers Union. What's a right-wing political blogger doing with a union?
It's a lobby group representing the views of the taxpayer and targeting government waste. I've never been anti union - I've signed people up to unions in the past and I think they are important when there is a big power imbalance and workers are vulnerable. I think Unite has been pretty effective in some of the stuff they've done. This is something I've been working on for several years and I'll give you an example of the kind of thing we're targeting - the $30 million subsidy to Rio Tinto. I can't imagine we'd be saying that was great. Or the $3 million the Government spent on a road safety campaign telling us to be nice to our fellow drivers. No, it's not the new Act Party. And it's not anti left or right. I suspect we will somewhat annoy whoever is in government at the time.
Council website 'astronomical' cost The Marlborough Express - 31/10/2013
The Marlborough District Council has spent more than $400,000 on website redevelopment over the past two years, nearly three times as much as Nelson, Tasman and the West Coast put together.
Figures released by the Taxpayers' Union show that only Auckland Council has spent more than Marlborough on website upgrades since July 2011.
Councils of a similar size to Marlborough, like Kapiti Coast, Upper Hutt and Wanganui, have all spent less than $15,000.
In comparison, Dunedin City Council spent only $35,520 over the same time period.
Wellington City, which redeveloped its award winning website earlier in the year, spent almost $100,000 less than Marlborough.
Tax Payers Union eyes up first target Newstalk ZB - 30/10/2013
The newly established New Zealand Tax Payers Union has already eyed up it's first target - the Marlborough District Council.
It says since July 2011, the council has spent $410,550 on its website design and development.
In comparison, Dunedin City Council is said to have spent only $35,200 on its website.
Tax Payers Union co-founder Jordan Williams says the Marlborough Council's spent an exuberant amount of money.
"If, let's say, half the population of that district has actually been to the website, we estimate it would have actually been cheaper to have brought them all a taxi chit to physically go into the council."
Mr Williams says the union will be putting the microscope on spending across the political spectrum.
"We're not a political party and the Taxpayers Union will never become one. The success depends on us being a grassroots organisation for people that think there is too much waste and extravagance in Government."
The Taxpayers’ Union has welcomed Labour MP Jacinda Ardern’s announcement that if elected, Labour will scrap the Families Commission quango.
Government funding for an organisation churning out reports such as ‘Eating Together at Mealtimes’, is better spent on the frontline. We support Labour’s stance.
The Families Commission was only ever a result of an election deal with a minor party. We are glad Labour realise the need for money to be spent where it will be most effective for taxpayers.
The Families Commission’s ‘Eating Together at Mealtimes’ report is available
Our Executive Director was interviewed on TV One's Breakfast show on the launch of the Taxpayers' Union and what it stands for. Click below to watch (via the TVNZ website).
Grassroots group takes aim government spending (4:08) TVNZ Breakfast TV - 30/10/2014
Since July 2011, the Marlborough District Council has paid $410,550 for website design maintenance and development costs. In comparison Dunedin City Council spent only $35,520 over the same time period.
“The only council that spent more on web design than Marlborough was Auckland Council” says Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union.
“Even if we assume that half of Marlborough’s residents have actually visited the site, it would probably have been cheaper for the Council to pay for a taxi for them to visit the office. It is potentially a huge waste of ratepayer money.”
Wellington City, which redeveloped its award winning website earlier in the year spent almost one hundred thousand dollars less than Marlborough.
Spending on website design maintenance and development costs since July 2011.
Click 'read more' for raw data.