KDC staff country’s best paid says Union
Compared to every council in New Zealand, Kaipara District Council pays a higher proportion of its staff a salary over $100,000, according to Ratepayers’ Report, the Taxpayers’ Union’s 2017 local government league tables.
Nineteen percent of staff are paid salaries over $100,000, almost double the national average of ten percent.
“Not only are staff paid the big bucks, Kaipara District also has the highest ratio of staff to ratepayers in Northland,” says Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union.
“As a result Kaipara ratepayers pay more for staff costs than anywhere else in Northland.”
Kaipara Mayor, Greg Gent, says he thinks Kaipara District Council will never look good on the ‘staff over $100,000’ metric due to its size.
“We have a CEO and six direct reports, all of whom would be in that category, that makes up one third of our staff in that salary group alone. Regardless of Council size, all Councils would have that similar overhead.
“KDC has moved over the last four years to a model of less consultants and more permanent staff. That clearly will be the largest factor in the staff to ratepayer ratio.”
The Council also performs poorly when ranked according to other measures contained in the Ratepayers’ Report.
“On a per ratepayer basis, Kaipara District has the highest total operating costs and the highest debt in Northland. The only positive is that Kaipara has the most assets on a per ratepayer basis in the region.
“Given the financial troubles at Kaipara over recent years, we’d have expected them to put more of an effort into transparency. They were the only council in New Zealand that refused to respond to our researcher request for rates information. Mayor Greg Gent should be justifying why his Council isn’t doing a better job at providing what is basic information the public are entitled to.”
In response the Kaipara Mayor says he is pleased to get any comparative data on Council performance, but adds that one challenge a Council has is accurately measuring its performance compared to, say, a for-profit organisation.
“As I understand it, the basis of the comparison was residential rates and of course we have a large rural component,” says Mr Gent.
“Kaipara did not supply any data to the survey which I will rectify for next year. I look forward to digging into the numbers further.”
In comparison, the report shows Whangarei with the lowest average residential rates in Northland and low debt.
The Far North District has one staff member for every 89 residential ratepayers, while the Whangarei Council has a staffer for every 102 residential ratepayers – the lowest staff costs in the region at $642 per ratepayer.
“Overstaffing isn’t a problem at the Far North and Whangarei District Councils, with both on the desirable side of the national average for the number of ratepayers per person employed at the council,” says Mr Williams. The Ratepayers' Report is available online at ratepayersreport.nz.