The Weekend Sun Column - 26th August 2016

JOHN ROBSON on Tauranga City Council...

When I look at the ‘Board’ of TaurangaCity Council, and compare it to acommercial board, there is oneobvious difference - and that is thelevel of financial literacy. 

In my professional experience, themajority of the board of a commercialentity of a similar scale to Councilwould have proven financial acumen. 

Indeed, that would have been a keycriterion in the appointment of boardmembers. 

Because, as I noted in 2013, if you don’tunderstand finance, then the quality ofyour decision-making is compromised. 

Now, in my first ‘column’ (July 15) in thisseries, I promised evidence.And this week, on SunLive, there wasa story on some claims made by threeCouncillors, which, in my opinion,provides evidence for my concerns refinancial literacy. 

In an advertorial, it was claimed that “…many Councillors campaigned on theplatform to reduce the rates – and thathas been achieved with thedebt/revenue ratio currently estimatedat year-end to be 197%. This is areduction from the 244% at the startof the term of this Council”. 

This statement is wrong in both factand inference.
  • Rates have not been reduced
  • A change to the debt/revenue ratiois not definitive evidence of a ratereduction 

And while there has been a mutedand grudging “back-down” by twoof the Councillors, the author of theadvertorial maintains they have donenothing wrong. 

Which goes some way to explainingthe results of the 2016 “Who Do WeTrust” report from Victoria University’sInstitute for Governance and PolicyStudies – which indicates that the levelof trust in local government is low –and has fallen over the last three years. 

It doesn’t have to be this way.

John Robson


This website is authorised by John Robson, 22 Sunny Downs Drive, Tauriko, Tauranga, 3110 - e-mail or call 021 443703.