Local Body Councils Insult the ratepayers who pay them!

Oh, How they mock us!

The local political and business elite of Hawke’s Bay reward themselves again at the expense of the people they serve. The news that Hastings District Council has renewed the HDC chief executive Ross McLeod‘s contract plus given him a pay rise causes one to wonder if there are any councilors capable of active thought and scrutiny. How can anyone whose position oversaw the disaster that brought Havelock North to its knees be handsomely rewarded in this manner?

Acting Mayor Hazlehurst said the review of Mr McLeod’s remuneration earlier this year was appropriate, given there had been no increase in his salary since February 2014. I say ‘so what’? He is already one of the highest earners of any local body in New Zealand and clearly demonstrated that he is not threatening to leave any time soon even after presiding over a water débâcle of momentous proportions. More than 320,000 reasons to fight for his job I would say!

Meanwhile a large percentage of HDC ratepayers, particularly those retired, have also had no income increase but have endured significant rates increases that begin to threaten many retired people with being rated out of the homes they have lived in for many years as being no longer affordable. This is a pending disaster for many soon to unfold. Now they don’t even get safe an unadulterated water that once everyone prided themselves in knowing it was. Many ratepayers are still buying water from supermarkets or installing home water filters are insulted by the HDC paying the even more salary to someone who has failed them in a basic and fundamental duty of care. What an insult!

Council believed Mr McLeod was in the best position to deal with matters identified during investigations into the Havelock North water contamination; that he was in the best position to support the council’s transition through the period of an acting mayor‘ the HB Today report says. Well did the council consider any other applications? To come to that decision did councillors examine the reporting protocols that the CEO should have had in place that meant all councillors were satisfied he had instituted a vigorous process of documenting exactly what was happening with water testing at any one time? Surely the CEO must have demonstrated to the councillors a clear and precise reporting process back to his office that proved he was on top of the information to have us believe this was somehow a freak event that is someone else’s fault and not his. Or did they?

It is clear to anyone observing that someone should take the blame for Havelock North’s water crisis yet no one stood up to accept responsibility for the disaster, neither the CEO nor the Mayor. No wonder rate payers feel shafted but it’s not just the HDC.

How can we forget that the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council paid the then CEO of HBRIC Andrew Newman a similarly massive increased salary of in excess of $300,000 to deliver the Ruataniwha Dam project as a completed package yet under his leadership they didn’t even have the rights to the land for the project to go ahead! No, all the ducks were not lined up in a row to do this. How incompetent is that? Will any of this increased salary be repaid? I doubt it; no the chairman of HBRIC warmly congratulated him on his achievements‘ and so $20 million of ratepayers money later, another disaster and a failed project overseen by the business elite of Hawke’s Bay. No comeback for the ratepayers but everlasting payments of significance to the elite, the mockery is complete.

Malcolm Eves


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