Mayor Vanessa achieves her financial goals
‘‘It is incumbent on us to say 'is it fair, reasonable and what we should do with other people's money?'’’
If you look at the floor as you walk into the office of outgoing Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Vanessa van Uden, you might notice the carpet is different from the rest of the building.
She was new to the office in 2010 when she was advised new carpet was being laid.
‘‘I said ‘there’s nothing wrong with this carpet’. They said ‘but we’ve got the money to do it’. I said: ‘Use it on something else’.’’
It is symbolic of the pride she takes in her frugal approach. A recent flick through the candidates’ profile book published as she bid to step up from councillor to mayor in that same year shows her promising to bring council spending and rates increases under control with a focus on council services.
As she prepares to hand over the mayoral chains following six years in the job, she says she achieved her financial goals - trying to achieve efficiency in services, without cutting them.
Council vehicles, phones and legal fees were targeted. Staff muffins for morning tea and council lunches at 12.30 before a 1pm meeting went too.
‘‘This is other people’s money that we are spending,’’ she says. ’’It is incumbent on us to say ‘Is it fair, reasonable and what we should do with other people’s money?’ because we don’t give them any choice about taking it off them.’’
The council staff restructure was necessary, although the rebuild was not done as well as it should have been and caused more angst than necessary, she says.
Despite popular opinion, the proposed Queenstown Convention Centre was a ‘‘vanity project’’ she says she only picked up after the Prime Minister suggested it and the business community called for more work to be done.
Her remaining frustration is that she is not leaving council in as good a shape as she wants it to be.
However, she was pleased to achieve zero rates rises.
‘‘At the stage that I took over we were about $100m in debt. Through good prudent financial management across the organisation we are now currently about $95m in debt.’’
❚ Vanessa van Uden’s full story is featured on Stuff. • Northland • Waikato • Hawkes Bay • Manawatu • Dannevirke • • • •
I sh e i r l r r
Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Vanessa van Uden is leaving after six years in the role.
van Uden refused to get new carpet in her council office.