Whanganui and Partners has dumped clear goals and targets in favour of fuzzy broad goals, Wanganui Ratepayers Association says.
Association chairman Dave Hill said his organisation was concerned that measurable accountability was missing from the economic development agency's new statement of intent, approved by Whanganui District Council last week.
"Last year the Whanganui District Council brought in new KPIs [key performance indicators] for Whanganui and Partners to measure their performance against," Hill said.
"The Wanganui Ratepayers Association at the time wrote to the [council] CEO congratulating him and the council for at last setting quantified and measurable goals for this ratepayer-funded organisation.
"The goals were to achieve a GDP (gross domestic product) for the district of 2.5 per cent by 2020, a population increase of 4500 by 2025 and a 5 per cent increase in employment.
"Now, that measure of accountability has been dropped. Sadly, the capitulation of clearly identified goals and targets being consigned to the dustbin for instead fuzzy and, as Councillor David Bennett says, 'broad goals' is a complete turnaround."
The 2018 targets charge Whanganui and Partners with an increase in available jobs, businesses established and ensuring tourism numbers and spending track in line with national trends. In education its goal is to increase enrolments in tertiary training and numbers coming to the district for study.
"What constitutes an increase in available jobs - one or 1000?" Hill said.
"The same applies for businesses established and tracking and spending in tourism being in line with national trends."
Whanganui had been out of sync with national tourism trends for more than 10 years, Hill said.
"Evidence of this is the latest Business and Innovation report for the year ending March 2018. This shows Whanganui to be in the lowest five out of the country's 32 regional tourist organisations in motel, hotel and backpacker accommodation providers. The number of guest nights in Whanganui over the last year rose by 1.2 per cent, while the national average was a rise of 3.9 per cent. While overall tourism spending is tracking upwards, it's still below the national average.
"Despite over $20 million being invested in growing Whanganui over the last 10 years, the district has fallen behind in just about every category."
Hill said the association was also concerned that councillors did not appear to know where Whanganui and Partners was spending its money.
"The WRA would consider that all councillors, as part of their elected responsibilities, already know where over $2m per annum of ratepayers' money is being spent and, if not, they should be asking and demanding answers."