102 ways Councils can save money

The Herald reports:

No free lunches, video-conferencing instead of sending staff to expensive conferences and livestock to control grassy areas and cut down on maintenance contracts are on a hit-list that could slash millions from council budgets.

As councils around the country try to tackle budget blowouts amid rising costs, the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union has published a report – 102 Ways to Save Money in Local Government – which it says could provide financial relief for under-pressure local authorities.

Councils can save money if they have the right mindset.

New Zealand’s 78 local councils collected more than $5 billion in rates revenue during the 2016-17 financial year – about $1100 per New Zealander – and the Taxpayers’ Union said it was imperative those funds were spent more wisely than, in some cases, they are now. …

Cost-cutting proposals from the Taxpayers’ Union include:

Grass cutting:

“Where appropriate use cattle and sheep to graze on council land rather than spending money on grass cutting.

“Auckland Council run sheep and cattle on Cornwall Park in One Tree Hill. The animals are an attraction for children and families. Livestock could easily by used at other parks.”

Scrap political advisers: “Political advisers don’t work for ratepayeres – they work for the mayor.

“If local politicians want political advice they should pay for it.”

The Taxpayers’ Union said that in Wellington, the mayor spent more than $400,000 on advisers and support staff in 2017; in Auckland $2.079m was spent on staff employed by the mayor’s office; in Christchurch the mayor’s office bill totalled $905,344.

Youth councils: “Abolish youth councils and standing consultative committees, which are more about photo opportunities and keeping people happy than useful public debate.

“Councils should be focused on allowing all members of society to participate in meaningful consultation processes as issues arise. Elected councillors are clearly not doing their job if they need to pay people to advise them on what sections of the community think.

“Youth councils are a nice idea but, in our experience, achieve little (if anything), and are used by local politicians as a Claytons solution to youth engagement.”

Playgroups: “Do not have children’s playgroups directly run by the council.

“Instead, better value for less money can be achieved through funding this much-needed resource via the voluntary sector, community groups and independent groups of parents and playgroups.”

Sports payouts: “Get rid of professional sports subsidies disguised as ‘economic development’.

“Hamilton City Council paid around $40 million over the five years it hosted the V8 Supercar races – if residents are not willing to pay their own money to go it’s not reasonable use of ratepayers’ money. It it’s good for businesses then let businesses or the chambers of commerce pay, not the poor residents.”

Lots of good ideas.

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