QLDC contractors – $388,672,685 in 3 years [Crux, 06/02/20]

After three years of official information requests, QLDC has released to Crux a detailed list of how they spent ratepayers money on consultants and contractors – but the data still excludes a large number of payment details. The total spend is $388,672,685 over three years.

The period covered by the data is from July 2016 to December 2019. The data was supplied to Crux in PDF form using an extremely small font. It’s taken weeks to decipher the information and research some of the names on the list.

This story is only a preliminary analysis, but we selected one QLDC supplier at random – ZQN.7, the last alphabetical listing in the data set – and the results are intriguing – see details below. We invite our readers to check out the list themselves and get in touch with any particular feedback or observations. Needless to say, we are going back to QLDC for more information.

Reporting on the activities of the QLDC in Queenstown is getting increasingly difficult. We mention this only because the information in this story has been obtained through years of official information requests and council rejections. The council has tried to charge Crux over $1,200 for this information and then, when we refused, they have provided a number of sets of incomplete data – using what might be described as “every trick in the book” to block and hide information that should be in the public domain.

This is detail of our money – the ratepayers and residents money – and how it is spent.

Many of our elected councillors will find these numbers surprising. That’s because decisions about this level of spending are made by council managers. Our elected councillors generally sign off on broad policy matters – but this $388 million has been allocated to different companies and individuals by council staff. We are assured by QLDC that proper contracts are in place but it is worth bearing in mind that purchase orders have not always been used by QLDC and many aspects of the QLDC finance system have not kept pace with modern accounting practices.

In order to get this information we had to refine our requests to exclude everything under $25,000 per annum per contractor.

QLDC also removed details of a large number of contractors using this explanation:

“Note: For privacy reasons, contractor names for any sole traders or self-employed workers that use their own personal name as the company name have been withheld.”

Crux does not understand or agree with this decision and will challenge it via the Ombudsman’s Office in due course.

Please note that our analysis is limited and our ability to classify each supplier has been made difficult by having to agree to a QLDC condition that contract/transaction details are excluded from the data set. We have generally ignored most payments under $150,000 in the data set unless they seem unusual or noteworthy.

Crux regrets having to use this subjective approach, but invites readers to look at the data set themselves and share feedback/observations. We are more than ready to be corrected if we have made an inaccurate assumption due to the limited information supplied by QLDC.

Where your money goes.

In brief, it’s a very good time to be a lawyer, a roading contractor, a planning consultant…

Read this in full here.

Cover image: ID 113033459 © violetta ushakova | Dreamstime.com

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