NBR: A Serious Review Needed Of ‘Million Dollar’ Memberships

The NBR has picked up my comments about today’s news that Auckland Council is a paid member of up to 250 external organisations.

NBR external

Revelations at today’s Auckland Council meeting that the council is a paid member of over 250 external groups will come as a complete surprise to ratepayers.

Check out the list here: External organisations. It includes the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology and the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works (AIC).

At the same meeting it was disclosed that council’s membership of Local Government New Zealand costs $400,000 alone per year.

“This is an enormous amount of money and yet the LGNZ payments don’t stop there.”

Auckland Council will also pay an extra $1,500 per person to LGNZ, plus airfares and accommodation, for every councillor, local board member and council staff who attend this year’s annual conference in Dunedin.

“Our $400,000 membership doesn’t even buy us conference entry.”

Last year 30 elected members attended the annual conference in Rotorua, 29 of whom ratepayers paid for. I attended for a day but I paid for this personally.

“If the same numbers attend this year, that means ratepayers will pay an additional $65,000 on LGNZ activity.”

“The total costs of membership associated with the 287 groups, including conferences, seminars, travel and staff costs, could amount to more than one million dollars.”

Council should be involved with a wide range of groups that are interested in Auckland. But if any group charges for membership, council should sort out what the real value is that ratepayer actually get.

“As a major player in New Zealand, many groups need to engage with council anyway. We should not pay for contact and activity that will happen in any case.”

“With the large amount of money now involved, a serious review is needed of the value ratepayers get from the money spent.”

The council spent two hours debating its $37,500 per annum membership of the Property Council.

Len Brown led the decision to retain this membership in a 13/7 vote.

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