News & Events

Media Statement from Palmerston North City Council

Tuesday February 19 2019

The Taxpayer’s Union published an email newsletter on 17 February 2019, in relation to its LGOIMA enquiry to Palmerston North City Council (PNCC) relating to an economic grant to Toyota NZ. In the email they criticised Council about the cost of supplying some of the information they requested.

The Taxpayers’ Union submitted five pages of detailed questions, and PNCC is putting considerable amount of resources into responding to the requests.

PNCC has requested the Taxpayers’ Union pay for supplying information for two of their questions due to the considerable time required for Council staff to undertake the work and the costs associated with providing the information.

Palmerston North City Council responds to the comments regarding the recovery of costs for the two requests as follows.

Emails between Council and Toyota

The Taxpayers’ Union asked for copies of all correspondence between Toyota NZ and Palmerston North City Council for the last four years that related to Toyota NZ’s headquarters in the city and the associated grant.

In order to do this, an initial search of Council records indicated around 27,785 were sent between the two email domains (pncc.govt.nz and toyota.co.nz) in that time period. The next stage in the process and to ensure transparency is to individually read each email.

The estimated time for reading 27,785 emails (at 10 emails per minute) is estimated to be 46 hours. The cost to cover this time is charged as per the recommendation from the Ombudsman’s Office of $76 per hour. The estimated cost totals $3,496. Should the time taken be less than 46 hours, then the pro-rata value would be refunded.

Being two major organisations and large employers within the city, it is expected the majority of these emails will cover a wide range of topics which are not related to the request.

Grants and subsidies

The Taxpayers’ Union asked for a list of all other grants and subsidies to businesses or developments in the last three years.

PNCC’s accounting records indicate 1,244 grants were paid under a ‘grants’ code, which includes grants to organisations such as Sports Manawatū and CEDA and also in relation to community development for community groups and a wide range of organisations throughout the city.

PNCC administers its grants in a transparent process for which applications are received and outcomes well communicated publicly through annual accounts, website, media releases and other reports.

To respond to the Taxpayers’ Union question about details of these grants and if they apply to its specific question, it is estimated it will take two hours to collate this information.

Palmerston North City Council is now awaiting confirmation from the Taxpayers’ Union and will process their request as a matter of priority.