A report released today by the Local Government Business Forum highlights the need for local authorities to be transparent about what they spend ratepayers’ money on, National’s Local Government spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“This report is particularly timely with the Local Government (Community Well-being) Amendment Bill currently before Parliament which reverses National’s local government reforms that applied fiscal discipline to councils.

“By re-inserting the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-beings of communities into the Act, there will inevitably be rates rises as councils feel validated in untargeted spending – it essentially gives councils licence to do what they like.

“The Local Government Business Forum report is rightly calling for councils to provide simple information that shows ratepayers what they are paying for and how much.

“Homeowners, particularly those on lower incomes, deserve to know if their rates are being prioritised on pet projects, like murals of pop stars, over important roading and footpath infrastructure.

“Greater transparency will help ensure that councils make worthwhile spending decisions, and provide ratepayers with the information they need to challenge or question their council on its spending programme.

“At a time when Government policies are driving up the cost of living, New Zealanders understand more than ever that efficient public services and resilient infrastructure needs to be balanced with local councils’ strong financial management.”

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