An A rating announced today by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) reflects improvements made by Waikato Regional Council over the past three years to lift its performance.
The council was comprehensively and independently assessed against its peers in March and the results were announced today by LGNZ as part of its CouncilMARK™ excellence programme, which gives communities a clear picture of how their councils are performing.
“It’s challenging putting yourself forward for independent scrutiny, and being the first regional council to do so,” said council chief executive Vaughan Payne.
“We strive to be a high performing organisation, and delivering increasing value to our ratepayers, partners and communities is very important to us.
“While there will always be room for improvement, it's great to see we’re one of the top performing councils in New Zealand,” Mr Payne said.
Of 15 “foundation” councils assessed so far, Waikato is one of just four councils to receive an A grade or better.
The LGNZ report found the council “demonstrates competency and leadership in delivering its core functions and addressing a range of regional issues” and “in general collaborates well with stakeholders to achieve its strategic outcomes”.
The report also said the council “has the benefit of a strong financial position and generally positive stakeholder relationships to make progress on major initiatives”.
“The council’s bold and collaborative approach to issues helps stakeholders and the community to own issues and solutions,” the report said.
There are a number of areas noted in the report where improvements could be made, many of which are already being addressed. These include giving more of our stakeholders and the community the opportunity to have their say on the council’s strategic direction, addressing the general public’s confusion about what the council does, maturing relationships with some iwi, and improving organisational culture.
Council chairman Alan Livingston said: “Since 2013 the council has been undergoing a major change process, so it's been important to independently test the impact of those changes. Councillors and staff are proud to receive an A grading but regard that as a benchmark on which to build.
“It’s especially pleasing to see that the benefits of a collaborative approach has been recognised for the improved and generally positive relationships with our stakeholders and in delivering on initiatives that really matter,” Mr Livingston said.
The excellence programme was developed by LGNZ in response to the 2015 New Zealand Local Government Survey, which showed there is an opportunity to lift and demonstrate the service and value councils deliver to their communities. It measures indicators across leadership, financial decision-making, service delivery and community engagement.
to read the assessment report.