The chief ombudsman says local democracy is being undermined as councils fail to meet obligations to release public information.
Peter Boshier said councils are not meeting their responsibilities under the Local Government Official Information and Meeting Act and that some councils seem to resent having to be held accountable.
"The performance of many councils is disappointing. Local government is absolutely fundamental to democracy, and in that respect the need for accountability and supply of information is just as strong as it is with central government, and yet many local councils don't see it that way.
"We will commence a better process of publicising our data on complaints, giving better guidance and encouraging an earlier dispute resolution process so ratepayers who often have legitimate complaints can get to the end of the journey earlier than before."
Last year 248 complaints were received under the act, Mr Boshier said.
There was a mix of a failure to supply information and other queries about process, he said.
People wanted to know why a council came up with certain rates, what had happened at meetings, and follow up information, for example.
The whole idea of the act was to make sure there was accountability and so ratepayers could participate in democracy.
Mr Boshier said his office was happy to offer advice to councils on how they release information.