Tuesday, November 11, 2008

John, learn from John

John Key could do worse than emulate the Auckland City Council under John Banks and Citizens & Ratepayers. Together they are slashing spending, containingAll with the intention of keeping rates under check.

The NZ Herald reports
a significant scale back in spending just to hold rates to inflation. It shows a council prepared to turn the clock back on ever growing spending of other people's money. Of course what it raises is the spectre of people who want to know why they can't get what they thought they'd get, forgetting that other people were to be made to pay for it.

After all if you want "training lights on sports field", why do you raise money for it with the sports teams or people who play there? If you think land should be bought to create parks then what is stopping you, or others like you from setting up a trust and doing just that? If you want the footpath outside your home to be fixed, why not suggest to Auckland City Council that you'll buy it and look after it yourself, of better yet let your street do it with a body corporate? All sounds a bit complicated? Well the mafia finds it easier coercing people to do what it wants too, there is more strength (and morality) in being able to convince people of the merits of what you want.

Having said that I do wonder about stormwater spending, given the hoards of money sitting in Auckland Regional Holdings (formerly Infrastructure Auckland) which has come from Port of Auckland dividends and other sources which was meant in part to go to fix the stormwater infrastructure deficit. The ARC would, of course, rather spend this money on railways.

The simple answer to those City Vision councillors and others on the left upset that their pet projects are delayed or cancelled is this - raise the money yourselves. ASK people to pay for it, forget using force use persuasion, persuade people that they should spend money on what you want.

Meanwhile, John Key might want to talk to John Banks about how his ideas could be applied at central government level, but also local government. Wouldn't it be a nice start if all councils had to trim spending to keep rates from rising above inflation? Given this is ACT policy, I would hope that this shouldn't be an issue given the country's largest local authority by value, led by an ex. National Cabinet Minister, can implement it.

After all if many private citizens and businesses are having to retrench during a recession, why should local government expect it can demand more when it can do much much less?

(Oh and in case you think I've become a revisionist on local government, I think the long term case for local government isn't convincing, which means a permanent cap on rates in nominal terms so councils engage in a permanent process of privatisation - but not enough of you voted Libertarianz to enable that policy to be negotiated into government, so...)

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