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Borrowing Mea Culpa

Our Council is very sensitive about borrowing - so much so that it claimed in yesterday's presser that its borrowing of $1837 per rateable unit was 8th on the list comparable surrounding councils - Waitomo is top with $8840, but this nearly resulted in it being bankrupted a few years back. Others are hardly paragons against which our Council should compare itself - certainly when the figures are corrected.

Then the presser laid claim to the following

"The debt listed in the table for TCDC represented both internal and external debt, whearas the ranking of other Councils only counts external debt".

I took one look at that claim and decided that it was utter nonsense, if not a deliberate mis-representation. The $1837 clearly represents exernal debt only - work it out for yourself - divide $42m by 25,000 rateable units and you will see just how ridiculous is the claim. Internal debt accounts for at least another $40m - it varies in line with depreciation reserve contributions.

I emailed Steve Baker this morning and offered to contribute to a case of bubbly if it was true. He has failed to reply.

But let me tell you what has happened to the presser - it was altered this afternoon to remove the absurd claim, and I imagine that there is certain level of embarrassment around the Castle while they work out just how they are going to squirm their way out of this - altering the presser is not exactly the best way to retain credibility, but frankly, this Council has no credibility in any case when it comes to debt levels, regardless of recent success in reducing 'external' debt.

I have emailed the other councils in the table for their comment on the original claim. I don't expect a flood of replies, but no doubt there will be wry smiles around water coolers up and down the country. Few of them allow 'internal' debt in any case - a totally disreputable and discredited practice which few seem to accept or understand.

When will our Mayor, Council and Staff face facts when it comes to debt? If I am not mistaken, we will stand in fifth place at around $3200 per rateable unit - let them prove otherwise.

This is the direct quote from the original presser:

"As for debt, we constantly hear that our debt is excessive. So we'd like you to compare a snapshot of surrounding Councils as at June 2013. 

You can see for yourself that we've succeeded in keeping debt per property lower than surrounding Councils.

Even more interesting is that our debt listed in this table is both internal and external debt, whereas the ranking of other Councils only counts external debt".

"So the good news from this Annual Plan is that we're in good shape for the future".

That may well be the case, but the evidence is not contained in this presser.  




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