Tim Shadbolt on 101 ways to save money in local government

The Taxpayers Union has released a report by Jono Brown titled 101 ways to save money in local government.

There are forwards by Hutt City Mayor Ray Wallace and Invercargill Mayor Tim Shabolt. Shadbolt says:

Having been a mayor for 28 years and finally achieving a rate increase of less than 1%, I’ve learnt to face many challenges and this publication is certainly challenging. Some of the ideas are obviously worthy of discussion and others are clearly designed to provoke discussion. Local government representatives can often hide under the cloak of “public service” which generates barricades of knighthoods, QSMs and QSOs.

Occasionally a rogue mayor such as Michael Laws or Wayne Brown would poke their heads above the parapet and lob a grenade or two about the hopelessness of local government but both were eventually destroyed by self-inflicted wounds.

In my view we should never flinch from criticism. At least our critics are interested enough to wrestle with local bodies. Our real opponents are those who don’t give a damn, don’t vote, don’t connect, don’t criticise, don’t communicate and don’t under any circumstances get involved.

Hopefully this publication will anger, inspire or depress but it won’t make us feel apathetic

Some of the 101 ways include:

  • Don’t fund or join chambers of commerce
  • Publish all accounts payable transactions
  • Save on water costs by proactively detecting leaks in the water network
  • Require end of year reports from groups which councils fund
  • Abolish youth councils and standing consultative committees
  • Incentives for recycling
  • Don’t fund “sock puppets” and “fake charities”
  • Get rid of professional sports subsidies disguised as ‘economic development’
  • Don’t implement the living wage
  • Don’t copy central government activities
  • Use “hot desking”
  • Encourage mobile working
  • Use energy saving light bulbs, or smart lighting technologies.
  • Stop producing glossy brochures
  • Cut transaction costs by offering a discount to those who pay by direct debit
  • Send rate demands by email
  • Use cheaper surfacing for footpaths that are unlikely to be used muchKeep a tight grip on spending by council controlled organisations by having independent directors from the commercial sector
  • Pay managers based on the performance of their departments
  • Give all staff the option of performance-based pay
  • Publish the job titles of all members of staf
  • Stick to doing things councils are good at

Not all 101 ideas will apply to all Councils, but there’s no Council that doesn’t have a degree of inefficiency and rather than keep increasing rates for ratepayers, the Taxpayers Union will continue to fight for more efficient government, so rates and taxes can decrease.

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