When will Local Government stop telling porkies?

Local government is spinning like a top, this time it is Craig Stobo trying to pull the wool.

New Zealand territorial authorities have assets of $117.4 billion yet extremely low debt levels of only $10.8 billion, says a financial chief.

Craig Stobo, chairman of council funder the Local Government Funding Agency which finances many councils, revealed the numbers at a briefing yesterday, saying those ratios proved councils were extremely financially cautious.

“Councils in New Zealand are conservatively geared. That indicates they’re prudent financial managers and their communities should be grateful,” Stobo said.

Firstly this is nothing but PR spin by a local government organisation. They know that they are under attack for crap financial performance and high debt.

But assets of $100b plus? I don’t think so.

The NZ Govt Treasury definition of an asset is something that will provide economic benefits. Other definitions by Audit NZ for example say that it is something that can generate income or be sold to generate income.

Most of what Local Government calls ‘assets’ are actually a value applied to land that sits under roads or parks. These can’t be sold and they can’t generate income. So they aren’t assets. ?

But also infrastructure. Stormwater pipes can’t generate income and can’t be sold.

I haven’t even begun to start on this issue, however it’s just total nonsense to claim such high values. Auckland a Council for example has claimed in the past years that it has ‘assets’ of $40b. Well actually it’s only $6b of assets which are shares and buildings and things they can liquidate or make cash from. The rest of that $40b is values applied to parks and road land.

They can’t sell it so it’s not an asset.

When will Local Government stop telling porkies?

Jordan Williams holds them to account.

However, Jordan Williams, executive director of the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, said councils were too often profligate, irresponsible and wasteful of money from ratepayers.

“Councils need to trim the fat, live within their means and focus on delivering value for money to ratepayers before they pursue the types of new taxes being promoted by the Local Government New Zealand lobby group,” Williams said.

“Auckland Council now owes $16,000 per household. That’s even more than the Christchurch City Council’s debt, and before any of Mayor Len Brown’s big infrastructure projects have started,” he said.

“Last week, we learned that Wellington City Council spends more on recreation and sport than transport and roading. In Auckland, the council’s transport arm now has more staff than the New Zealand Transport Agency, which runs the national network.

“The fact that rates have tracked at twice inflation over the last 20 years points to a local government sector that is bloated and inefficient. The need for infrastructure reinvestment and renewal haven’t changed. Why is it now costing 50 per cent more?”

Len Brown’s promises to hold rate to the rate of inflation are extremely hollow.

The man is a spendthrift with evidence of his dodgy decision making going back to when he bought Christmas presents and treats for his family on the council credit card.

Local government is a disgrace, my inbox gets filled with local government horror stories.

Time we had recall legislation.


– NZ Herald