by Christopher Ruthe

Kapiti Council is No. 1, but it’s nothing to be proud of

Many ratepayers have suspected this for a while. Now it has been confirmed by the most extensive nationwide analysis ever undertaken into local bodies payroll expenses by CPR Consultants, here. The author, L. Mitchell, was senior partner of Coopers Lybrand, Local Government Sector, an outstanding expert in his field.

This is the chart ranking KCDC at No. 1 in two categories

KCDC costs at topThe average council spends 23.8% of its budget on payroll, but Kapiti Coast District Council spends 34.7% on it, whereas Rangitikei spends just 10.3%.

The report further reveals council employees earn, on average, 37.9% more than those in the private sector.

Rather than looking at pruning the number of employees and capping salaries, the Council has just voted to have 2 full time staff added to the payroll to run the intended $4.6 million Gateway Centre. It will be a transit lounge for boat passengers to Kapiti Island so the 2 staff will have little to do all day after visitors have set off, usually by 9.30 am.

The Mayor is exceptionally keen to keep KCDC top of the wastage and rampant spending table. The Labour Councillor Rob McCann is hotly in favour of increasing our rates, wanting to set up a Ratepayer-funded stall to sell the idea. He was upset that 2 surveys (totalling a 1,350 sample) showed 72% opposed the Gateway. Other spend-up Councillors include Holborow, Elliott, Prvanov and Handford.

Next year’s projected rates increase

The Council has set a 2.6% average rate increase this year. It has deferred some works. If they adhere to the Long Term Plan, next year’s increase will be 8.4%, and that does not include funding of the Gateway.  KCDC is very likely to keep its number one spot for local body bureaucracy spending.

The most important thing that local councils should do is create good-quality needed infrastructure and that should be the main use of Rates; they should not be creating empires of bureaucrats who in turn arrange for expensive consultants in Auckland and Wellington to tell them what to do. —Eds