It wouldn’t hurt a few of Wellington’s supposedly opposition Councillors to take a leaf out of Wainuiomata Ward, Hutt City Councillor, Campbell Barry’s book and actually put a spotlight on Council finances.
Barry has done an excellent piece on his blog highlighting what he calls trickery and a lack of transparency. He calls out how Council will claim a project has come in under budget, when in fact all they have done is shift a chunk of the cost into another line item.
Most in Lower Hutt will be aware that over the past 3 years the Council has undertaken a bold strategy to revitalise our City through a number of capital projects. Something that I support for the most part.
Unfortunately, what people don’t always see is the tactics employed to get some of these projects over the line. Budget ‘reworkings’, off-loading of extra costs (taking from Peter to pay Paul) and a lack of clarity around the total cost of projects are just a few of the tactics that I have witnessed.
Labour MP, Trevor Mallard, commented on his Facebook –
Poor management and inadequate governance from senior councillors has resulted in a $25m capital budget blowout this year. That’s 30% of residential rates or $625 per ratepayer. Most Hutt families just can’t afford the council taking on that level of extra debt for them to pay.
Wouldn’t it be fascinating if we could see the real budgets of some of the pet projects around WCC. The infamous cycleway is the tip of the iceberg too, we imagine. This term we have gone into pot-plant-and-paver-upgrade overdrive with sparkling new plastic versions of Melbournes laneways popping up everywhere and of course the Victoria St pigs-ear-to-silk-purse transformation as examples of pork barrell projects that would appear vulnerable to what Barry has called out in the Hutt.