Statistics New Zealand has released its latest comprehensive analysis of spending by local authorities, showing a downward trend.
Published today, the data relates to the 12 months to June 2013.
It shows spending on core services declined from $8.5b to $8.3b.
It's the first fall in operating expenditure in 20 years.
Meanwhile, the operating income of local authorities has increased by 1%, to $7.9b.
Income from rates increased $90m last year - the lowest increase since the global financial crisis.