CouncilMARK™ report: New Plymouth facing unique challenges

A CouncilMARK™ report issued for New Plymouth District Council says that while the region has experienced relative prosperity and growth, changes to the economy of New Zealand’s ‘energy capital’ may present challenges.

The report, released today by the Independent Assessment Board, delivered a BBB grade to the council, praising their extensive communication and engagement with the community and strategy in addressing risks to the region’s key industries, particularly in relation to a zero-carbon economy.

CouncilMARK™ incorporates an independent assessment system 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 C to AAA from the Independent Assessment Board as well as commentary on their performance.

The report found that economic risks should serve as a catalyst for further analysis on the affordability of the current service levels in response to economic changes, as well as developing better budget resilience.

“The council are rightly looking at how the region’s economy can transition and grow beyond the traditional industries of energy and dairy, which have been cornerstones of the region for over 40 years,” says CouncilMARK™ Independent Assessment Board Chair Toby Stevenson.

“It’s clear that New Plymouth residents have great lifestyle opportunities on their doorsteps, which the council and staff are seeking to grow.  They’ve done a great job of consulting with the community, who have called out zero waste, three waters, the CBD and the Walkway as priority areas.”

“Having a tighter focus on a smaller number of goals could assist the council with making the most of opportunities.  The council have good operational strength across their roading and three waters networks, and their day-to-day services could be enhanced by similar planning and performance measures.”

LGNZ President Dave Cull praised the council for undergoing a CouncilMARK™ assessment.

“Going under the microscope of a CouncilMARK™ is not always easy.  The ratepayers of the region should be proud, not just of the strong result, but the council’s commitment to transparency and continuous improvement.”

IAB Chair Toby Stevenson says the CouncilMARK™ report, which can be found here, measures indicators across leadership, finance, asset management, service delivery and community engagement.

“The report has been completed by independent assessors under the direction of the board, and offers an independent assessment of the council’s performance in key areas, providing valuable information to the council and its community.  Measuring performance means councils can assess how to better deliver ongoing and increased value to ratepayers.”

“CouncilMARK™ has been 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 to all New Zealanders.”

Mr Stevenson says the focus is now on the programme’s third year and participation of all remaining councils.

“The more councils that embark on CouncilMARK™, the greater its impact will be in promoting continuous improvement and a stronger reputation for the whole sector, which greatly benefits our country.”