Stick it, Kerry
Local body election campaigning is under way, some billboards are up, others have been smashed down. Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast has her own "stick with Kerry" billboard, but someone should really twink out the letters w and h.
Here's why. Of the largest eight councils, Wellington has the highest average residential rates in the country, with the second highest projected residential rates rise to boot. It has the most expensive council rubbish bags in the country. In Wellington, you need written permission to keep a goat, a permit to sell your car on the side of the road, and you have to cough up to $4 an hour to park your car in the city. Well, unless you are a councillor, of course, because then you get free parking.
Of the eight biggest councils, in terms of population, Wellington comes sixth, after Auckland, Christchurch, Manakau, North Shore and Waitakere. Yet Kerry collects the fourth largest mayoral salary, a few dollars less than Manakau City mayor Sir Barry Curtis. In contrast, the population of Auckland city is 2.5 times larger, it has a lower average residential rate, with rubbish charges included in the rates.
Now that the Council has decided to lower the number of councillors from 19 to 14 - well, the Local Government Commission told it to - it needs to now reduce the salary of the mayor. More importantly, the candidates need to explain to voters what they would do if re-elected, rather than levying ratepayers to tell us what they like about the city and why they think it’s a great place to live.
Then more than half the population may consider voting in local body elections.
However despite the above, Kerry will waltz home as mayor, purely because there is no decent opposition, and half the residents don`t care about local body politics anyway.
But they`ll moan when the rates go up.