SunLive         

At a time when residents and businesses are being told to pay unprecedented rates rises for “essential” infrastructure, I can reveal the greatest beneficiary of your 2021 rates increase–not roads, but council staff salaries, which are increasing from $66 million to $81 million in a single year.

Last week, this record growth in bureaucracy was put in the budget without question, discussion or debate from the Commission, so it wasn't in the news.

They’re proposing to take an additional 20 per cent in property rates and 30 per cent in water rates from us. These increases are sold as being needed to “catch up” on “essential” infrastructure, but the truth is a significant proportion of the rates hike is consumed by a 22.7 per cent increase in the staff salary budget.

There have, so far, been no attempts to create a more efficient and effective council organisation as residents, rightly or wrongly, expected when a Commission was announced. Instead, as Oscar Wilde once said: “The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.”

There have been numerous press releases on “essential” infrastructure, but the numbers paint a different story. Half the ten-year rates budget supports Labour’s growth agenda–increasing congestion on our roads. The remaining transportation budget is good news for bus users and cyclists, but bad news for motorists, with little investment for them.

Over ten years, $90 million for a new pool and recreation hub at Memorial Park, $47 million for a new town library and $14 million on a temporary council building are also deemed “essential”.

Council should only sign new employment contracts for 18 months. When democracy is restored, residents will insist on a more efficient and effective public service.

Straight from city council
A personal view,
by Councillor Steve Morris