More council benchmarking in the near future

EDITORIAL

Councils around the country reacted angrily to the blunt comparisons in the 2017 Ratepayers’ Report released by the Taxpayers’ Union last month, as they have since 2014.

For our District Council the claim it has the highest staff ratio of New Zealand’s five unitary authorities was hard to swallow as the figure used, 397, included students and rural firefighters. The full-time equivalent staff number of 281 would be a better figure for comparison — so why don’t councils all have that number readily available?

These reports might have spurred Local Government NZ to launch its excellence programme, CouncilMARK, which is “designed to improve the public’s knowledge of the work councils are doing” and “to support individual councils to further improve the value they provide” to ratepayers. It also involves performance assessment that will no doubt eventually provide a kinder, fairer benchmark than the Taxpayers’ Union report.

Gisborne District Council has yet to be assessed for the programme but will be in the near future.

GDC has, though, been compared across 135 Australasian councils by the Society of Local Government Managers, with PricewaterhouseCoopers, in its performance excellence programme. This annual survey has been run in Australia since 2013 and New Zealand councils were invited to join in 2015.

GDC has now had two reports from this first-ever cross country benchmarking collaboration which has earned international recognition. They have been used for internal management purposes, but chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann says the next report out early next year will be made public.

There were some queries over the Ratepayers’ Report figure of residential ratepayers here making up just 30.6 percent of the district’s population.

GDC has 22,205 rating units/rateable properties. It counts 14,627 as residential properties — being in Gisborne City, Wainui, Okitu, Makaraka and the rural townships; 1198 are commercial and industrial properties; the remaining 6380 properties are classified as lifestyle, farming, horticultural and forestry.

Councils around the country reacted angrily to the blunt comparisons in the 2017 Ratepayers’ Report released by the Taxpayers’ Union last month, as they have since 2014.

For our District Council the claim it has the highest staff ratio of New Zealand’s five unitary authorities was hard to swallow as the figure used, 397, included students and rural firefighters. The full-time equivalent staff number of 281 would be a better figure for comparison — so why don’t councils all have that number readily available?

These reports might have spurred Local Government NZ to launch its excellence programme, CouncilMARK, which is “designed to improve the public’s knowledge of the work councils are doing” and “to support individual councils to further improve the value they provide” to ratepayers. It also involves performance assessment that will no doubt eventually provide a kinder, fairer benchmark than the Taxpayers’ Union report.

Gisborne District Council has yet to be assessed for the programme but will be in the near future.

GDC has, though, been compared across 135 Australasian councils by the Society of Local Government Managers, with PricewaterhouseCoopers, in its performance excellence programme. This annual survey has been run in Australia since 2013 and New Zealand councils were invited to join in 2015.

GDC has now had two reports from this first-ever cross country benchmarking collaboration which has earned international recognition. They have been used for internal management purposes, but chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann says the next report out early next year will be made public.

There were some queries over the Ratepayers’ Report figure of residential ratepayers here making up just 30.6 percent of the district’s population.

GDC has 22,205 rating units/rateable properties. It counts 14,627 as residential properties — being in Gisborne City, Wainui, Okitu, Makaraka and the rural townships; 1198 are commercial and industrial properties; the remaining 6380 properties are classified as lifestyle, farming, horticultural and forestry.

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