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Questioning Mr Rassmussen

 |  Meg Beston  | 

In a recent opinion piece, Mr Rasmussen assigns full blame for a proposed 12.9% rates increase on our local elected representatives. This simplistic approach ignores the realities of nationwide cost increases and how comparatively well TCDC has done.

The average rate increase nationwide is 15%, with some councils imposing significantly steeper rises than TCDC – Hamilton (20%), Napier (23.7%), and Auckland water charges (29%). This doesn’t paint a picture of local Councillor incompetence, but rather every council struggling with inflation and extra costs being foisted on them by central government.

Perhaps Mr Rasmussen can clarify how individual Councillors are responsible for the rising costs of bridges (38%), sewage systems (30%), and water supplies (27%). Should we hold them accountable for general inflation, higher interest rates, and insurance costs as well?

Mr Rasmussen accuses TCDC of exceeding its legal authority yet strangely as a lawyer, fails to provide any legal basis for this claim. The Local Government Act empowers councils to “promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of their communities” – a broad and legal mandate for all its proposals.

Mr Rasmussen laments the lack of investment in three water services.  But he conveniently omits how the previous government took these costs off council balance sheets only to have their entire financial burden fall back on councils under the new government’s regime.

We can do better than the one-dimensional blame game in which Mr Rasmussen engages. A more nuanced understanding of the massive funding challenges every council faces is necessary.

In a recent opinion piece, Mr Rasmussen assigns full blame for a proposed 12.9% rates increase on our local elected representatives. This simplistic approach ignores the realities of nationwide cost increases and how comparatively well TCDC has done.

The average rate increase nationwide is 15%, with some councils imposing significantly steeper rises than TCDC – Hamilton (20%), Napier (23.7%), and Auckland water charges (29%). This doesn’t paint a picture of local Councillor incompetence, but rather every council struggling with inflation and extra costs being foisted on them by central government.

Perhaps Mr Rasmussen can clarify how individual Councillors are responsible for the rising costs of bridges (38%), sewage systems (30%), and water supplies (27%). Should we hold them accountable for general inflation, higher interest rates, and insurance costs as well?

Mr Rasmussen accuses TCDC of exceeding its legal authority yet strangely as a lawyer, fails to provide any legal basis for this claim. The Local Government Act empowers councils to “promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of their communities” – a broad and legal mandate for all its proposals.

Mr Rasmussen laments the lack of investment in three water services.  But he conveniently omits how the previous government took these costs off council balance sheets only to have their entire financial burden fall back on councils under the new government’s regime.

We can do better than the one-dimensional blame game in which Mr Rasmussen engages. A more nuanced understanding of the massive funding challenges every council faces is necessary.


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