Districts rated highly in report

IAIN SCOTT
Last updated 12:00 12/06/2014

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Rangitikei and Horowhenua are getting "better value for money" from their councils than other ratepayers in the Manawatu-Whanganui region, says a new report.

Rangitikei Mayor Andy Watson said he was "stoked" about the report's findings.

Ratepayers' Report, a set of interactive online local government league tables published by the Taxpayers' Union in partnership with Fairfax Media, allows ratepayers to compare their local council to those in the rest of the country.

Using figures from June 30 last year, the report shows the average residential ratepayer in Rangitikei pays $1809, compared with a national average of $2019 and a rural council average of $1906.

Council revenue per ratepayer amounts to $3703, compared with a national average of $3671 and a rural council average of $3849.

"Ratepayers' Report suggests that the best-performing councils in Manawatu-Whanganui are Horowhenua and Rangitikei Districts, with both being the right side of the average on all variables we analysed," said Taxpayers' Union executive director Jordan Williams.

"The worst-performing councils appear to be Whanganui District and Palmerston North City."

While Horowhenua had the lowest operating expenditure per ratepayer and low average residential rates, Rangitikei also had low average residential rates and low liabilities.

Its operating expenditure of $3500 per ratepayer compares with a national average of $3175 and a rural council average of $3465.

The report indicates Rangitikei has a total liabilities-to-equity ratio of 2 per cent and that liabilities are decreasing.

Williams said the council had only one full-time staff member for every 211 ratepayers, which was significantly better value for money than all the other territorial authorities in the region.

At $304, council employee expenses per ratepayer are less than half the national average of $676 and rural council average of $674.

"We're thrilled to be in the position we're in," Watson said.

"We're not in a position of debt currently. However, we are continuing with the infrastructure renewal programmes that we're looking at, and that has gone on for some time, but we've been able to manage that process very well."

He believed Rangitikei offered exceptional service and delivery, and it was good to see that being recognised by an independent body.

"It's also a reflection on the work that our council officers have put in.

"Rangitikei has become a fairly lean machine. We have worked, and are continuing to work, with Manawatu District Council in terms of shared services and that relationship has been a good one."

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Ratepayers' Report is online at www.ratepayersreport.co.nz

- Manawatu Standard

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