Responding to news that Wellington City Council Chief Executive Barbara McKerrow had known for months that the town hall restoration project was $147 million over budget but decided to forego passing this information on the elected Councillors, Taxpayers’ Union Policy Adviser, James Ross, said:
“For over 6 months, Wellington council officials kept elected representatives in the dark about their own failures to keep the town hall restoration project anything close to on budget.
“When councillors voted on the annual plan in June, this information was being kept hidden from them. Council Chief Executive Barbara McKerrow was reportedly fully aware at this point, and in stifling this information manipulated democratic processes to achieve her desired outcome.
“When it came time to vote on the latest increase in funding on Wednesday, Councillors were given only a matter of days to scrutinise officials’ plans and told that it was essentially now or never – despite this information being available for over half a year.
“What we have seen here once again is council officials – including the Chief Executive – being the tail that wags the dog. These officials have decided that they know better than the people of Wellington and should be making autocratic decisions on their behalf, democracy be damned.
“Officials said that wasting up to $329 million on the town hall was the only viable option. Well there’s only one viable option now; Barbara McKerrow has disgraced her office, and if she lacks the good grace to resign, then for residents’ sake Councillors must reclaim their authority, sack Barbara McKerrow and replace her with someone who understands the role of a council official is to serve and not be served.”