Dom Post on WCC

June 17th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

chief executive Kevin Lavery said he felt “deflated” when councillors blew his carefully crafted annual plan out of the water. He was being diplomatic, no doubt. In fact, the politicians had behaved irresponsibly.

Mr Lavery had presented them with a plan that held rate increases within the council’s self-imposed limit of 2.5 per cent. But then councillors voted to fund extra projects – and by the end of the meeting the increase had jumped to 2.75 per cent. Mr Lavery was entitled to feel miffed. Officials “actually gave you $300,000 to spare”, he noted. Instead, they had overshot.

This was bad enough, but Councillor Bryan Pepperell rubbed salt in the wound. He said council staff should work to reduce the rates increase to 2.5 per cent when the full council meets in two weeks to adopt the yearly budget. This was an outrageous suggestion, and Mr Pepperell rightly got a caning for it.

Cr Simon Marsh said it was like saying, “we made the mess, now someone else clean it up”. Exactly.

The buck has to stop with the politicians themselves. They have to make the tough calls on cuts and they have to resist the urge to fund their pet projects. In this case they failed to do either.

We need Councillors who can make tough decisions, rather than keep increasing our rates beyond the ability of households to pay.

14 Responses to “Dom Post on WCC”

  1. Manolo (22,045 comments) says:

    Further proof the WCC is clueless and leaderless. The incompetent Luddite Wade-Brown must be thrown out.

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  2. lastmanstanding (1,724 comments) says:

    On the subject of rates I have lived in the same house for the past 33 years. During that time my rates have increased from $230 per annum to $2500 per annum plus a further $750 per annum in water rates under the new Auckland Council. The CPI over the same period has increased 510% where my total rates have increased 1400% or 2.75 times the CPI increase.

    First we had the East Coast Bays Borough Council which was rolled into the North Shore City Council in 1989 and we were told this would reduce costs and therefore rates. Then we have had the NSCC rolled into the Auckland Council and told the same pack of lies.

    Mayor Brown Deputy Mayor Hulse and the other incompetents aided by the over paid under talented Town Clerk McKay are hell bent on raping and pillaging Auckland rate payers.

    They are a monopoly and like all monopolies Councils have no intent on holding costs. Instead they are consumed with building edifices to their own glory.

    Time for rate payers to revolt and with hold payment of rates until Councillors agree to hold rates to no more than the CPI or resign and let others with the skills and competencies take over.

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  3. peterwn (4,287 comments) says:

    Being CEO of an outfit with a highly political board can be a thankless job. Previous CEO’s:
    Ian McCutcheon – technocrat – (his son is Auckland Uni’s Vice Chancellor) – remember him saying once he had a gutsful after some particularly messy political goings on.
    David Niven – technocrat – did not survive major re-shuffle. might have survived if he took strong action with regard to the City Solicitor’s non compliant investment flats.
    Angela Griffin – left when apparent she would not get second 5 year term.
    Gary Poole – at 15 years a real survivor. However in retrospect it seems his defence mechanisms for survival led to his alienation.

    Ian, David and Gary – excellent people – served Council and ratepayers well, but not an easy job. Also two temporaries (who I knew fairly well) – they did a good job.

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  4. labrator (2,464 comments) says:

    Councils have too much power. Gut them to regulatory bodies and outsource the lot.

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  5. Dave Stringer (218 comments) says:

    Angela was committed to bringing the WCC into the 21st century by the time it began. She had an executive team of three reporting to her, and a “CEO’s Office” of two. She had a set of Department Heads who were specialists in their work, and supported them with excellent administrators to do the Administrivia, as an example, the time to process a resource consent went from 50 days to 20 days under her watch.

    She touch typed and insisted she could type her reports faster than she could dictate or pen-push them.

    She left because her accomplishment of having ZERO NET DEBT was not what the new council members wanted, as far as they were concerned, debt was not an enemy it was a friend and putting up rates by more than CPI was just what you had to do to keep getting elected! (how that workes I’ll never understand!)

    Look at hte “Office Of The Chief Executive” that Gary had, and you’ll see where some of the costs have come from since she left.

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  6. Rick Rowling (892 comments) says:

    Can we have a Greater Lower Hutt supercity please?

    Incorporating Wellington City & others, but NOT incorporating the WCC incumbents.

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  7. gazzmaniac (2,842 comments) says:

    We need Councillors who can make tough decisions, rather than keep increasing our rates beyond the ability of households to pay.

    And how will your regional parliaments wet dream achieve this?
    It seems to me that apart from some exceptions, it is smaller councils that keep rates lower and avoid retarded projects, not larger ones. One notable exception being Kapiti.

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  8. Paulus (3,567 comments) says:

    Frightening – Gary Poole is new CEO of one of the most indebted Councils – Tauranga.
    Staff numbers in recent years have increased exponentially along with corresponding number of Contractors.

    Whilst he will be watched carefully by Ratepayers the Council is pledged to continue spending other peoples money.
    The Councillors cannot see that they are entirely led by the executive, and have only a non executive watching brief.

    Councillors are on an ego trip, pretending they know what they are doing, in the name of the voters.

    No difference to any Council in New Zealand – their terms of performance should be monitored – Yea !

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  9. Mobile Michael (984 comments) says:

    When inflation is under 1% why is Wellington City Council wanting to raise rates by almost three times that?

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  10. rouppe (1,236 comments) says:

    What I don’t understand is why the Town Hall is expected to cost some $44 million but the Huddart Parker building is only costing $8.2 million to strengthen and refit.

    I suspect the base isolation is part of it, but then we need to ask whether base isolation is money well spent. Base isolation really only comes into its own in a massive earthquake, and non-base-isolated strengthening can remediate up to a big earthquake. Given the likelihood is under 10% maybe the options list needs to be trimmed back a bit.

    Either that or the contractors are taking the piss. It’s like the temporary office for the Mayor. $350,000?!! Come on. Apparently we should be grateful it is now only $150,000. Piss off! It’s a temporary office! Shouldn’t cost more than $10,000 for a lick of paint and and end-run of carpet before moving the desk in

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  11. gazzmaniac (2,842 comments) says:

    It’d cost even less if they didn’t paint the walls and put down carpet. Fuck ’em!
    A donga costs about $10 per day to rent, and maybe $1000 to get set up if it needs plumbing.

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  12. Warren Murray (400 comments) says:

    Peterwn re your comments about Gary Poole, I dont agree that longevity is a basis to measure his effectiveness.

    i feel sorry for Tauranga CC.

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  13. Viking2 (14,373 comments) says:


    He is, I think, the second reject from welly wood to fill that post.

    Our council are shite at picking CEO’s.
    Even worse at controlling the money spend although that have shown some response and shifted the spend to things like drains and roads. That we have one of the best water supplies around is also down to some good councuillors. Unfortunately all the nice to have brigade took over for a while. We even had a Litlle Miss Two Shoes ( Solo mother cum lawyer who now eks out a living on various money feeding boards and stuff), who managed to lump us with a soak hole in the form of a swimming pool, about 500 meters from our fine beach.

    Still more of you will arrive here because we are still cheaper than auckland. Just don’t bring your Len Brown or Celia Wade whatever idea’s with ya. We’ve already had enough of them šŸ˜†

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  14. Keith Johnson (2 comments) says:

    The Wellington City Council [see its ‘Our Wellington’ Advertorial of 2 July 2013] and the Dominion Post seem determined to bamboozle citizens into believing that residential rates will rise by only 2.5% in the coming year.

    As I have commented in my Blog, half-truths are being peddled by cynics through spin-doctoring and hypocrisy.

    RESIDENTIAL RATE BURDEN RISES FROM 25.2% TO 35.8% [2001-2021]

    As the WCC Draft Annual Plan explains:

    ‘For 2013/14, our total rates are forecast to increase by 3.3 percent before allowing for growth in our ratepayer base. After allowing for expected growth, our total rates are forecast to increase by 2.8 percent.

    ‘Rates on the average residential property (valued at $525,164) are proposed to increase by 4.1 percent to $2,012 in 2013/14.

    ā€˜An average rates increase of around 2.3 percent is proposed for commercial [business] propertiesā€™.

    As I have explained:

    ā€˜In 2001-02, Wellington City Council [WCC] recorded revenues of $241.7 million with $63.9 million coming from Business Rating [26.4%] and $61.1 million [25.2%] coming from Household Rating. At this time $112.0 million [46.7%] was drawn from ā€˜Other Sourcesā€™ [i.e. fees; profits from council controlled organizations; and central government grants]. The only other strand of income was the Downtown Levy which raised $3.8 million [1.6%].

    Projections for 2021-22 forecast revenues of $503.0 million [a doubling over 20 years]. Of the projected total, $180.2 million [35.8%] will be drawn from Household Rating and $129.4 million [25.7%] will be drawn from Business Rating. The additional sources of revenue are expected to consist of $13.4 million [2.7%] from the Downtown Levy; $5.0 million [1%] from Development Contributions and $175 million [34.8%] from ā€˜Other Sourcesā€™.

    The expected relative shrinkage of the Other Sources contribution is worth noting.

    In 2001-02, the average household ratepayer paid $1,053 per year. This rose to $1,884 in 2012-13. By 2021-22, the figure is likely to stand at $2,250 for per household rate payer.


    As Bernadette Courtney [the Editor of the Dominion Post] noted in her grandiloquent Leader on July 2nd 2013 ā€˜information should not be kept from the public so that readers can form their own opinions.

    Despite this, the Dominion Post continues to bamboozle Wellingtonā€™s citizens with the furphy that their residential rates will only rise by 2.5% next year.

    The independent online news agency Scoop has nominated the Rate Rebalancing policy as one of the top four issues that should be addressed by October 2013 Mayoral Candidates. Nevertheless, the Dominion Post remains obdurately silent in support of business interests.

    But like Bernadette Courtney, I agree with 19th Century Press impresario Lord Northcliffe, who commented in his own defence:

    ā€œNews is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertisingā€.

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