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Lies, and Statistics

The utter nonsense perpetuated by the re-printing of a Sunday Star-Times story in the Hauraki Herald on Friday 16 March cannot be allowed to go uncommented on.

The story was headed "TCDC rates the highest in New Zealand". What tripe - some young reporter needs to be hauled into the editor's office over hot coals for a bollocking.

What this person has done is repeat the common error of simply dividing the total rate take by the population to arrive at this amazing piece of information:

Residents of Thames Coromandel District pay the highest rates a head at $2,036 for every man, woman and child. Those living in Queenstown Lakes District pay the second highest at $1,659.

That fact that 52% opf the population reside elsewhere, and therefore do not appear in our population stats. is surely common knowledge here, but has not occured to this headline seeking simpleton. 

I don’t hold much truck with the existing Council as most readers will be well aware, but to accuse it of presiding over the highest rates in the country is nothing short of bizarre. Surely the connection between Coromandel and Queenstown must have occurred to the journalist, but sadly, this is representative of current abysmal standards. The fact that the Hauraki Herald has seen fit to re-publish the rubbish is an indication of the return to the lazy, miserly editorial standards of the past.

These are the facts - easily verified with Statistics NZ on Friday (note that these population statistics are from 2009 - the latest verified figures available, but there has been little change since then, and the rates figure is from the latest TCDC accounts) :

  1. Resident population 25,938
  2. Total Dwellings 22,464
  3. Occupied Dwellings 11,547
  4. Average per ocupied Dwelling 2.24
  5. Total Population – My extrapolation (2 x 4) = 50,319
  6. Total Rate Income $60m
  7. Average Rates per ratepayer  (6 -: 2) = $2,670
  8. Average Rates per head of population  (6 -: 5) = $1,192

I realise that this is not dead accurate due to the fact that it does not allow for the non-residential component, but it is near enough for the purpose of illustrating the inaccuracy of the "higest rates" claim. I am sure that TCDC Finance Director (?) could provide more accurate figures later. Note also the vastly different services provided by each council.

I don't know exactly where we stand in relation to other similar councils, but we were assured by Steve  Ruru that we were about halfway on the league table. I can't imagine where David Hammond obtained the information in which he also claimed that we had the highest rates, that he provided to justify the wholesale redundancies currently being undertaken. He provided no evidence, and I suspect that his figures are as grossly out of kilter as those provided in the Star-Times article, and probably based on the same methodology.   




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