Reaction to Our Town Clerk‘s Salary
In my $800,000 FOR THE TOWN CLERK post I had reiterated the general level of anger against our CEO (The Town Clerk) Doug McKay‘s pay of over $800,000 while at the same time highlighting from The Herald on Sunday:
It comes in a year when council debt has risen at a rate of $3 million a day to $3.8 billion.
Council chief financial officer Andrew McKenzie said the debt included money spent on large capital purchases, including the $104 million ASB building and $90 million on electric trains. He said the “highly unionised” staff had salaries at market rates.
Bit of a cop-out from the CFO but then again that is to be expected in regards to staff and a union.
But it is the fact the following issues have incensed me and fellow ratepayers due to our financially illiterate Council (as a whole rather than aiming it an individual councillors who form just a small part of “Council”) causing this daily blow out of Council finances:
- Blowing what it seems to be $3 million a day in excessive expenditure over relevant revenue – in other words Council spends more than it earns by a sum of $3m a day – A DAY!
- Mayor Brown calls Local Boards to save when the Boards can not and are in no position to do so as they are already below the lines required to provide minimum let alone adequate and functioning services
- Debt will hit $8 billion (most likely more) which means come 2021, 25% of my rates bill will be paid in repaying the interest (no principle folks – just the interest) of that debt pile. You need to make the figure around 38% of one’s total rates bill to pay off principle enough to get the debt pile down meaningfully
- Local Communities are neglected as Council led by the mayor go on a flight of pure fancy and dump just about every single resource we have into the CBD. Well as I said yesterday; we can survive although impeded without a CBD, but the CBD can not survive without well-functioning, healthy and properly resourced suburbs!
- For some, rates both land and water rose by more than 10% due to a failed Long Term Plan which I formally oppose
Well I am not amused at all. BR:AKL (formally VOAKL) has been running since last year the commentary shining the light into the dark murky corners of Auckland Council (and sometimes beyond). But jumping up and down on a blog is one thing (the talk), actually walking the talk is another.
Thus after considerable consideration and as announced last weekend, I am taking up my calling and going to ‘walk the talk’ for financial and social stability and responsibility. I am going to contest for a seat on the Papakura Local Board next year to fight on behalf of Papakura ratepayers for a more financially literate Council that also respects and properly resources the local communities (and their respective Local Boards).
Based on my ‘Values,’ this is what I stand for and believe in for a Better Auckland – as well as the qualities I look for when choosing which candidate(s) to elect to Local Board, Council and Mayor.
THIS IS WHAT I STAND FOR AND BELIEVE IN FOR A BETTER AUCKLAND
- Strong but no interfering Governance: Meaning Council shows active and real leadership but does not interfere with the daily lives of residents and businesses
- Finances: If my family has to live within its means then so does the civic institutions that impact on us greatly (that being Council and Government). You work out your income, then what you can spend on – NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND as with Auckland Council
- An Integrated Approach to Transport: None of this “all for one but not the other approach” we get from both roading and Green lobbyists. Road and Mass Transit both have their places here in Auckland – albeit more balanced like the Generation Zero 50:50 campaign
This integrated approach also applies to many other things out there – I call it The Best of Both Worlds.
- Open Governance: I believe in open governance where the public can sit in, listen and where possible discuss “matters-of-state” as much as possible with their representatives. None of this hiding behind closed doors (except for commercially sensitive material that does come up from time to time), and fessing up when you know you have stuffed up. You might find the public are more sympathetic you one acknowledges and apologies for a legitimate mistake
- Keeping It Local: Large centralised civic institutions seem impersonal (if not frightening) to most us. So how about keeping it Local and allow our Local Boards to be resourced properly so they can execute their true functions of local advocacy and providing our local community parks and services for us.
- Basics first: One thing I learnt when I moved out from the parents’ home and struck it out in the real world (including getting married and owning our first house) is that with the limited resources you have got, you did the basics first then with anything left over you just might be able to afford a luxury. Same applies to our civic institutions; they have limited resources so get the basics right first then “treat yourself or others” to a luxury if you are able to do so once the basics are taken care of.
- Listen and Engage: God gave us two ears and one mouth. In my line of work you actively listen with both ears THEN engage IN DAILOUGE with your one mouth. Not the other way around as that is usually monologue and the fastest way to get your ears clipped. Same applies to civic institutions: you actively listen with both ears THEN engage IN DAILOUGE with your one mouth unless you like getting your ears clipped… Oh and remember some days all the person wants you to do is JUST LISTEN to their little piece – as all we want some days is just to get it off our chests.
- Stay out of my way: I believe in the following strongly “Individual Freedom -> Individual Choice -> Individual Responsibility (oh and do not forget the consequences)” I am an adult who can make choices for myself (whether it was right or wrong), treat me as such rather than a child.
And as my first piece of “policy” I am setting about research in the feasibility of resetting funding back towards Local Boards to adequately fund community services, advocacy and capital projects. Using a particular Local Board as an example, the community inside that Local Board’s jurisdiction pay $106 million in rates to Auckland Council but only get 10% (if that back) per year to fund those “community services, advocacy and capital projects.” I believe control needs to come back to the local level away from the disconnected central body (Council and the Bureaucracy) thus between 25-33% of all rates revenue from a Local Board’s ratepayers should come straight back to the Local Board for those “community services, advocacy and capital projects.” Why? Because Local Boards are more accessible and responsive to the needs of their communities than the central body of Council and the bureaucracy ever could. And yes that means shifting some of the “responsibilities” over to Local Boards away from the central body. But proper resources and staff (that Boards do not have) would and should be able to handle this move.
So time for some research on the above policy. If it is feasible then we run with it and advocate strongly to Auckland Council, if non-feasible then back to the drawing board. But in any case I am putting the above policy out there for consideration and dialogue (leave comments below).
I will continue to develop ideas and write commentary as we progress to 2013 and the Local Government Elections. Dialogue and constructive comments are welcome as always.
BEN ROSS : AUCKLAND
Shining The Light –
To a Better Auckland
Auckland 2013: YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL