Waitaki District Council has received a very positive BBB rating in their first ever CouncilMARK™ assessment.
CouncilMARK™ is an independent assessment programme that assesses how councils are performing and is designed to support individual councils to improve the service and value they provide.
Councils receive an overall performance rating from the Independent Assessment Board (IAB), from C to AAA, as well as commentary on their performance across four key areas: governance, leadership and strategy; financial decision-making and transparency; service delivery and asset management, and communicating and engaging with the public and businesses.
Mayor Gary Kircher said he was pleased with the result, but that the real benefit was in the recommendations for improvement.
"We undertook this program to see how our Council measured up in a range of areas. I am very pleased with the BBB rating we received, but more important is the feedback on the areas where we are doing well, and the areas where we need to improve."
"We have already asked our staff to develop a programme of work to improve a number of those areas, and that is where we will see the most value from this process."
There will likely be another assessment undertaken in two years to measure improvements.
"This is a very creditable outcome, given that this is the first time that the Waitaki District Council has participated in this process," said Chief Executive Fergus Power.
"From a staff perspective, I thank all of my Executive Management Team for their efforts in achieving this pleasing result and would like to give particular credit to our Policy and Strategy Manager, Mike Searle, for his able management of the entire process. This assessment gives us good guidance as to how to further improve our performance over the next two years."
LGNZ President Stuart Crosby said Waitaki's CouncilMARK™ report shows a united council working towards a common goal.
"Waitaki ratepayers should be pleased that the council have both put themselves under the CouncilMARK™ microscope, and that they've come out with a very good result."
"What stands out to me is that the assessor has found elected members and council staff have a shared, common purpose: to make a great district even better."
The report finds that the council has an excellent balance sheet due to a long-term policy of rating for asset usage and putting those funds aside for the future. That's proven to be a wise move, as over the next decade around $200 million in capital expenditure is required for both asset renewal and to meet improved levels of service, largely across three waters infrastructure.
"Waitaki District Council has managed its activities prudently over the years, and their decision to rate for depreciation has put it in a great financial position," said IAB Chair Toby Stevenson.
"On top of that, they've got real strength in their people, and well organised delivery of core road and water functions."
Waitaki's Communications efforts were also praised, with material produced described as 'excellent' and easy to read.
The report found areas for improvement, and identified that key systems need to be integrated, namely asset management and financial systems, which currently sit apart.
"Upgrading back-end systems so that they are speak to each other will help the council make the best possible decisions, and help them share the best possible information with the community," continued Mr Stevenson.
Of the thirty-four participating, thirty-three Territorial Local Authorities have now undergone the CouncilMARK assessment process with Waitaki District Council placing 6th equal overall of those assessed. While five Councils outperformed Waitaki, Waitaki District Council in turn outperformed 14 others, equal-scoring with six other TLAs who have also attained an overall 'BBB' grade.
To read the report, visit the Council Mark website.