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Revealed: New Zealand's army of ratepayer-funded council staff

Staff graph

Figures obtained as part of the 2019 Ratepayers’ Report league tables reveal that local councils across New Zealand employ 30,497 staff – 5,376 of whom earn salaries north of $100,000.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says: "The sheer scale of council bureaucracy is stunning. Ratepayers are forking out salaries for a population the size of Timaru, or double the size of the New Zealand Defence Force. And one in six of these staff members earns a salary higher than $100,000. In the Auckland Super City it is one in four."

Some councils are less efficient in their staffing than others. Ratepayers' Report looks at staffing costs per household, to compare how bloated each council's bureaucracy is on an apples-to-apples basis. We also present staff-to-household ratios.

“Westland District Council ranks the least efficient in New Zealand in terms of both its staff costs and numbers. Meanwhile Rangitikei and Central Hawke's Bay District Councils appear to be getting the most from their staff.”

“Westland, at least, has the excuse of a large geographic area, and a small population means it lacks economies of scale. Ratepayers in Wairoa, Waitomo, Waitaki, and Christchurch should ask what their councils’ excuses are.”

“Often councils will justify rates increases on the basis of infrastructure spending, when in reality the spending is sucked up by rising payroll costs. Auckland ratepayers in particular have cause for concern, with an incredible 2,473 council employees paid more than $100,000. These costs are an obvious place to cut waste, especially as ratepayers suffer under higher rates and other charges.”

Total personnel costs per household (including CCOs):

Highest personnel cost per household:

  1. Westland District Council: $3,643
  2. Wairoa District Council: $3,319
  3. Waitomo District Council: $3,160
  4. Waitaki District Council: $3,143
  5. Christchurch City Council: $3,134

Lowest personnel cost per household:

  1. Rangitikei District Council: $622
  2. Upper Hutt City Council: $693
  3. Whangarei District Council: $718
  4. Tararua District Council: $723
  5. South Wairarapa District Council: $724

Average personnel cost per household: $1,364

Lowest and highest household-to-staff ratios (including CCOs):

Least efficient (households per staff member):

  1. Westland District Council: 19
  2. Waitomo District Council: 20
  3. Buller District Council: 26
  4. Hurunui District Council: 26
  5. Wairoa District Council: 34

Most efficient (households per staff member):

  1. Central Hawke's Bay District Council: 112
  2. Masterton District Council: 104
  3. Whangarei District Council: 102
  4. Rangitikei District Council: 102
  5. Hutt City Council: 100

Average (households per staff member): 67

Numbers of staff earning over $100,000 (including CCOs):

  1. Auckland Council: 2,473
  2. Christchurch City Council: 534 (excludes CCO staff, council failed to supply)
  3. Wellington City Council: 261
  4. Tauranga City Council: 138
  5. Hamilton City Council: 124
  6. Palmerston North City Council: 83
  7. Hastings District Council: 79
  8. Dunedin City Council: 79
  9. Waikato District Council: 69
  10. Queenstown-Lakes District Council: 62

Nationwide: 5,376
Nationwide (all salary levels): 30,497

Staff poster


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