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Ratepayer Report 2019: Highlights for Wellington (city and region)

This year’s Ratepayers’ Report places councils in the Wellington region near the top of the national league table for average residential rates.

New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “This year Wellington City Council maintains its placed near the top of the table in terms of average residential rates, ranking 9th out of 64. However, smaller councils in the region, namely Carterton and Porirua, continue to extract even more revenue from the average ratepayer than the capital does.”

“Carterton in particular has justified its ‘rates resistance’ by charging residents an average of $3,133 a year – the third highest amount in the country, up from eighth the previous year.”

“Councillors Porirua and Kapiti Coast ought to be wary of a similar backlash as the local election voting period looms. Delving into the report reveals potential reasons for high rates: Porirua spends a disproportionate amount on personnel costs, while Kapiti Coast spends an alarmingly high figure – $428 per household – just on financing its debt.”

All figures relate to the 2017/18 financial year. Further figures for Wellington City Council are as follows:

Staffing:

  • Total full-time equivalent (FTE) staff including Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs):
    • 2,128. This is a 3% increase from last year*. This also places them as the third highest employing Council after Auckland and Christchurch.
  • Total FTE staff (incl. CCOss) earning over $100,000:
    • 261

CEO remuneration:

  • Core Council CEO (Kevin Lavery):
    • $428,160
  • CCO CEOs:
    • Karen Fifield, Wellington Zoo Trust:
      • $222,286.74
    • Lance Walker, Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency:
      • $360,000
    • Pat Stuart, Wellington Museums Trust:
      • $203,228.56
    • Paul Atkins, Zealandia:
      • 181,104.52
    • Simon Fleisher, Wellington Cable Car Limited:
      • 183,258.49

Councillor remuneration:

  • Mayor Justin Lester:
    • $175,412
  • Deputy Mayor Jill May:
    • $113,836
  • Average Councillor remuneration (excl. Mayor and Deputy Mayor):
    • $86,025.21

The Report also assesses Audit and Risk Committees. “These committees are essential to protect ratepayers from fraud and financial mismanagement.”

“Wellington City Council failed three of the five criteria for a prudent Audit and Risk Committee. Specifically, Wellington’s Audit and Risk Committee does not include a lawyer or accountant, and it lacks an independent chairman.”

ENDS

Comparison of Wellington region councils:

Average residential rates:

  1. Carterton District Council: $3,132.97
  2. Porirua City Council: $2,876.67
  3. Wellington City Council: $2,754.57
  4. Kapiti Coast District Council: $2,712.00
  5. South Wairarapa District Council: $2,478.91
  6. Hutt City Council: $2,318.01
  7. Masterton District Council: $2,310.00
  8. Upper Hutt City Council: $2,151.73

Debt (liabilities) per household:

  1. Kapiti Coast $9,836
  2. Wellington City $9,571
  3. Porirua City $7,730
  4. Hutt City $6,134
  5. Masterton $5,985
  6. South Wairarapa $5157
  7. Upper Hutt $2,838
  8. Carterton $2,479

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