New CouncilMARK™ report highlights Council’s pivot to growth

14 April 2022

In its latest CouncilMARK report, released today, Upper Hutt City Council is commended for its careful leadership as it reorients to manage rapid change and growth and to deliver long-term benefits.

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, from C to AAA, as well as commentary on their performance provided by way of an assessment report after a comprehensive review process. Following this CouncilMARK™ assessment the Council has retained its BB rating from the previous assessment in 2018, taking on those findings to support the area’s growth trajectory.

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) President Stuart Crosby says Upper Hutt City Council is a carefully run council that has had to rebuild some core in-house capabilities and competencies over the last few years.

“The Council has rebuilt a number of its core services and competencies very successfully, and, in particular, there has been a lot of hard work in re-establishing in-house IT services.

“The Chief Executive has led this rebuild and is very well regarded by staff and councillors alike. Now the Council is in mid-step as it reorients to manage growth and is reassessing options to encourage further housing intensification.”

Assessors noted that there is also careful consideration and delivery of community services and a solid approach to asset management. This commitment to careful expansion of services is well received by the community.

The report commended the Council’s positive community relationships, including a solid trust-based working relationship with iwi and, particularly, with the local urban marae. This needs to remain a strong focus over coming years.

The CouncilMARK™ report also found that the Council has managed its finances closely within tight financial limits. In line with the 2018 report is increasing rating levels over several years to meet asset replacement, infrastructure growth and increased levels of service resulting from these. It noted that achieving a Standard & Poor’s rating of A+ suggests investor confidence in the Council.

Council chief executive Peter Kelly says the report is a very helpful tool that provides the Council with expert insight as it continues to plan and accommodate growth for the future.

“As a small to medium council, there are always things you can do better. This independent expert assessment gives us a very good view of those things we need to prioritise and develop.

“Ultimately, the Council has sought to attract residential, commercial, and other economic growth over the years, and that growth is now happening,” says Mr Kelly.

“We’ve invested a lot in improvements since the 2018 report, including strategic risk framework and rebuilding in-house ICT. As we move forward, we will focus on formalising some of our processes and some areas of policy including our development contribution policy.”

The report commends the Council’s positive and healthy workplace culture and the settled working relationships between councillors and the long-standing Mayor, recognised as a strong advocate for the community.

“Ultimately, Upper Hutt is enjoying an economic renaissance that provides the Council with a significant opportunity to deliver long-term benefits for its community,” says LGNZ President Stuart Crosby.

“The Council operates in a collaborative manner at all levels of the organisation and is experiencing real success in achieving its vision for Upper Hutt. To ensure there is further and enduring success, Council will now focus on greater structure and detail required to support some of its systems and processes.”