Heading into their second CouncilMARK™ assessment, Waimakariri District Council were confident they could retain their AA rating, but knew it wouldn’t be easy.
Taking on the findings of their first assessment, over a 24-month period the council has continued to invest its efforts in broad community engagement, strong vision and strategy and efficient delivery of services, showing that councils can consistently deliver high performance for their communities.
Launched in 2017, CouncilMARK™ is led by an Independent Assessment Board (IAB) which provides rigorous, transparent assessment of council performance, as well as a pathway for continuous improvement for the sector. As an addition to the Programme, CouncilMARK™ has set out to develop case studies which focus on sector best practice, as an opportunity for other councils to learn from each other.
“Waimakariri has been dealt a challenging set of circumstances,” said IAB chair Toby Stevenson.
“The earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 really battered this region. On top of that, they’ve had significant population growth with just over 10,000 people migrating to the region, often from worse affected areas. So the council have had a big job on their hands in accommodating both the rebuild, and the subsequent growth.”
“It would have been easy to coast after getting a very good first rating, but the council has taken on feedback, and made some small but important changes to further improve the value they offer their communities.”
“This council emphasises the importance of effective governance, and management delivering on strategy, which is a key theme in the success of this council. It is clearly displayed in the strong and trusting relationship between elected members and senior management.”
The 2017 CouncilMARK™ assessment highlighted community engagement as an area needing improvement. Acknowledging this, Waimakariri District Council undertook a revised approach to their 2018-2028 Long term Plan, resulting in over 800 submissions.
“Waimakariri District Council has built trust with their community through both online and ‘main street’ public consultations, developed a clear strategy off the back of that, and then delivered on it, while undertaking excellent long-term financial planning. The community should be pleased overall with what their council are doing,” said Mr Stevenson.
LGNZ President Dave Cull praised the council’s second AA rating, and their improved grade in financial decision-making and transparency, from ‘performing well’ in 2017, to ‘stand out’ in 2020.
“They’ve strongly linked their finance and asset management strategies, enabling council to aggressively implement the communities’ vision as set out in the Long Term Plan district plan.”
“There’s also transparency for ratepayers with their rates calculator. Being able to find your house, find out what your rates are, and where that money goes, whether on water, sewerage, parks and recreation, roading or environment is really pleasing from a ratepayer perspective.”
“If you look through the 28 CouncilMARK™ ratings delivered so far, you won’t see many AAs, which is a testament to the rigor of the Independent Assessment Board, and the performance of the Waimakariri Council in achieving this rating, not once but twice,” concluded Mr Cull.