Taupō District Council receives A grade from CouncilMARK
Taupō District Council is heading in the right direction despite significant challenges relating to population growth and the Covid-19 pandemic, an independent assessment report has shown.
The council received a CouncilMARK grading of ‘A’ last month, an improvement from its ‘BBB’ rating in its first assessment in 2018. The latest on-site assessment was conducted in April this year.
The CouncilMARK programme, developed by Local Government New Zealand, is designed to improve the public's knowledge of the work councils are doing in their communities and to support individual councils to further improve the service and value they provide.
The 2018 CouncilMARK assessment said if rapid population growth continued, it would place significant pressures on the council – particularly its infrastructure and finances. These pressures are now very evident.
The 2022 report said the Taupō District Council had made “significant progress” since its 2018 assessment, maintaining business momentum during the district’s growth while at the same time undertaking a “substantial reorganisation of executive management”.
“While numerous opportunities for further improvement remain, the past four years has set the council on a positive trajectory for success,” the report said.
The council’s strengths, as highlighted in the report, are positive and constructive relationships among elected members and with the executive management, an exceptionally clear and well-focused financial strategy, complemented by a very able finance team to implement it, an infrastructure strategy that is well-aligned to the financial strategy and lays out a sound long-term plan for investment, and a very strong and effective working relationship established with local iwi.
“The story of Taupō District over the past few years is, despite the impacts of Covid-19, one of positive growth and development that most rural districts would be envious of. However, growth brings challenges and for Taupō District, these are many and varied,” the report said.
Key challenges and opportunities include maintaining the viability of smaller communities with appropriate levels of council investment, gaining better returns from council’s investment assets, developing the capacity and capability to deliver important capital works; and overcoming the disconnect between the positive progress being made by the council and the perceptions by some sections of the community.
Taupō District Council chief executive officer Gareth Green said overall, the assessment was a great result and evidence of the hard work that had been done in the last four years.
“We are about to enter the election period and this independent report should give candidates and the community confidence that we are headed in the right direction, and punching above our weight,” he said.
“While this shows we are on the right track, we are determined to keep improving and making sure the Taupō District continues to be a great place to live.”
To the read the full report go to councilmark.co.nz/results/north-island/waikato-regional-council/taupo-district-council.