Tuesday April 24, 2018   Last updated 00:24AM

On Air Now | Radio Waatea

12:00am - 06:00am
Where do our rates go? With the council, you never know

Share to Email
Share to RSS
Share to Print

Where do our rates go? With the council, you never know
By John Tamihere


Everywhere you look in this country you are slapped by taxes.

If you were to add all of central government's hidden taxes like car registrations, Warrants of Fitness, diesel and petrol tax, or payments to doctors and schools, PAYE and GST, you'd have to wonder where the hell all our money goes.

There never seems to be enough to fix the problems across the spectrum and, most importantly, to our humanities.

But add the real elephant in the room- council rates - into this equation, and the burden on Kiwi wage and salary earners is starting to become unbearable.

Take our largest city, Auckland, which has a population of 1.4 million. It is managed by one of the best paid and largest bureaucracies outside the central government's silos of health, welfare, education and justice.

The thing with councils is, they are monopolies and their leadership often tries to compare itself to the private sector. An example of this is Auckland City Council chief executive officer Stephen Town comparing the number of his well-paid staff who earn over the $100,000 and $200,000 wage packages with employees of Spark, Fonterra, Air New Zealand and even Fletcher.

At least with the companies mentioned by Town, there is some competition - the council has none.

What's also interesting to note is that these companies are not funded by tax- or ratepayers, yet they all have greater scrutiny, exposure and accountability.

Auckland City Council calls itself a parent and employs about 7200 people. Wellington and Christchurch combined employ 5000 people.

But the 7200 employed by the Auckland Council does not include the huge council-owned monopoly companies: Watercare - which employs around 1000; Panuku - which has around 150 staff; Ports of Auckland - 500 FTE's on the job; Regional Facilities Auckland which has more than 600 employees on the books; Ateed (Auckland Tourism and Economic Development) which has around 200 employees and the mighty Auckland Transport, which has 1000+.

On top of that, add the consultants and contractors who who clip the tickets when they are brought in to outsource work. With all these folk shuffling paper, you have to wonder how they all get measured.

See, I can measure what goes on in a construction site because you sign off and see infrastructure being built. Large pipes being connected, foundations poured and ultimately an end use is delivered.

The problem with multi-billion dollar councils is the election process, where folk get elected and endeavour to bring some order to this beast.

This will continue to fail unless there is a consistent majority of central and local government politicians who have capability and capacity to oversee change and ensure performance of this model.

The only constant in the management of council are long-term, well-paid bureaucrats.

Politicians come and go. Incompetence or worse can be buried in the size of the business.

But what of the poor old Auckland ratepayers who drive to work each day in the belief that someone up there in that new multi-million-dollar council building knows what they are doing with all our money.

However, here's the rub: an authority, that is legally tasked and charged with looking after building standards, buys its headquarters, takes occupation of it and then finds out that it has to spend another $31m fixing a property that was sold to politicians as a cost-efficient bargain.

Are we talking about Auckland City or Mexico City here?

At one end of the spectrum is this $31 million horrendous error. At the other end a council inspector argues an international exit sign in green and white is unacceptable because it was not gender neutral - it looked like a man. When asked "how do we comply with the Auckland Council?", the answer was "use the word exit".

The same inspector required a 13mm step and ramp to be added because he considered the lip leading into the rear exit was 13mm too high.

I have personally witnessed issues inspectors had that brought building sites to standstills. Concrete trucks were stopped from pouring, so subcontractors had to be stood down, while the council inspector went back through myriad council committees for clarification. That added expense and downtime to the poor old builder who saw his profit margin and the planned family holiday go south.

But these things matter. These things count. Where is the public service ethic of these taxpayer and ratepayer-funded employees? Just because they have no skin in the game, does not mean they can take everybody else's.

Oh, and guess who was responsible for the $31m council repair building job?

That's right: Mr No One.

Copyright © 2018, UMA Broadcasting Ltd: www.waateanews.com

WAATEA - Website RKR18-126 Carpentry recruitment Final-177
Te Hononga
Te Hononga
Waatea TV
John Tamihere: Where do our rates go? With the council, you never know
Everywhere you look in this country you are slapped with taxes...Everyone has to pay.When you look at the City Council where does all the money go? Why is it they always want more then want to get paid more? In the old days there was a public service ethi
Waru Clark President Te Pou Herenga Waka Ama Club
Dale speaks to Waru Clark about the George Pomana Memorial Regatta that was held last Saturday.
John Tamihere Waipareira Trust CE
Breakfast Host: Dale Husband
Green Party Co-Leader Marama Davidson
Breakfast Host: Dale Husband
Graham Osborne CE E Tipu e Rea
An organisation set up to support charter schools is considering making a Treaty claim to keep the controversial model going.
Alan Livingston Waikato Regional Council Chair
Waikato Regional Council is optimistic new national fish friendly guidelines announced this week will be accompanied by Government and research institute investment in solutions to this increasingly challenging issue.
Aroha Tito Ngati Ranginui Iwi
Local iwi runanga Ngati Ranginui, the Bay of Plenty District Health Board and Toi Tangata are leading the call to action for healthy kai on marae in the Bay of Plenty.
Acting Prime Minister Kelvin Davis
Breakfast Host: Dale Husband
Vaughan Potter Ngati Hau Anti-Mining Group
Canadian mining company Full Metal Minerals Ltd announced over the weekend that they have acquired the two Exploration Permits (EP51985 and 60018) at Puhipuhi from Australian company Evolution Mining, subject to approval from the Toronto Stock Exchange
Was Labour really ready to govern? Give it a bit of time.
John Tamihere: These are the early days of this Government and we tend to compare previous administrations with the current administration - as we do with the leadership and playing capacity of new All Blacks squads against past ones.
Where do our rates go? With the council, you never know
John Tamihere: Everywhere you look in this country you are slapped by taxes.
What’s gone wrong in the West?
John Tamihere: On one hand, Westies have to be happy with the investment that has gone into New Lynn and Westgate.
p waateap listenp podcastp rssp facebookp twittercontactus




To receive regular updates from Waatea News.