Unsustainable Rates Increases
It bothers me that this seemingly endless government rates growth is unnecessarily taking more of our money and not demonstrably improving our lives. If the trend continues, more and more will lose much of their discretionary income and many elderly will be forced to sell their house and many of the young will be unable to save for a home. Without a change in direction, I envision a future where the only source of entertainment for many is a government festival. "...the Council’s budget priorities are not clear. For example, some staff and councillors appear to believe that it is acceptable to increase rates to beyond the affordable level for ratepayers on a fixed income..." The first statement looks to be generous when you consider "...the systems are outdated and do not function to the level the finance team needs." and "There is a substantial underspend on capital investment within a given financial year." This provides some clue regarding their priorities. Rates are rising unsustainably, debt is rising, and the incumbents have neglected the essentials. But hey, the freedom campers get free WiFi and we get to go to the zoo and government festivals, including the Santa/No Santa parade. And the Tasman District gets $5 million for a questionable dam that provides no value to the Nelson ratepayer.
Lack of Managerial Experience
Much of local government is the provision of essential public services such water, waste water, stormwater, roading, libraries, parks, building permits, etc. It's a public business with a number of moving parts and requires a team with a variety of skill sets to manage and operate. A key job of a councillor is oversight of this business and direct management of the Chief Executive. If you never really managed in a larger business you are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to overseeing the managers and their reports doing the work. You are likely unaware of how well run, larger organisations function from the inside. Corporate controls, team design, capital project management, program management, vendor management, procurement, systems, intra and inter departmental issues and communication, HR. It goes on and on. Too many on Council lack a corporate managerial background and I conclude that this factor is a cause of the unsustainable rates increases. "The ability of councillors to govern could be strengthened with further training in risk management, audit and finance, and training and experience in managing utilities such as the three Waters." "There was little support by councillors for self-assessment, with some councillors indicating that their knowledge and skills were evaluated by voters at election time." There you have it, voters.
Lack of Critical Thinking
I want to avoid criticising individual proposals or other Council action. Some of the output shows an obvious lack of critical thinking to the point of embarrassment. Consulting the horoscope prior to voting (as one past councillor reportedly did) is no way to run a serious business. "The Council would benefit from a more robust business case discipline that is consistently applied to new projects." Another generous statement.
Conflicts of Interest, Self Dealing, and Inappropriate Behaviour
Councillors and their relatives and friends having side businesses/organizations receiving Council funds is concerning. Violation of the related Local Government Act requirements, a core councillor responsibility, is disturbing. The Everyman Records case is egregious. Multiple cases of apparent self dealing and misleading the Auditor General is amazing.
Readers of the Nelson Residents Association newsletters are likely unsurprised by any of the above. I have no ambition to become a politician. Bottom line, I am sick of the endless rates increases and I am sick of the apparent self dealing. I spent most of my adult life producing tangible products and services for those who had/have genuine consumer choice. I have a job. The objective is to promote discussion regarding the above issues.