Council will not welsh on deal

Dave Cull
Dave Cull
The Dunedin City Council will not be seeking repayment of the $400,000 debt it wrote off to save the Otago Rugby Football Union even though it was now back in the black.

Two years ago, the union nearly went out of business but was saved by a rescue package brokered by the city council, with help from the New Zealand Rugby Football Union.

On Thursday, the ORFU announced it had recorded a $400,000 profit, had $500,000 in reserves and was expecting to make another small profit this year.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the union's result showed the deal the council made to write off its debt of more than $400,000 had worked.

While the council wrote off the money, in return it received All Blacks tests, proceeds from a North v South game, a long-term tenant for the Forsyth Barr Stadium and an assured future for the union, he said.

There was no way the council would ''welsh'' on the deal to bail out the union, he said.

''To decide we want our money back would ensure it failed.

''We can't have it both ways.''


Owing it all

Steve: I think it goes further than that - the $20m a year in rugby stadium debt servicing that goes to the Aussie banks is $20m that isn't being spent here in Dunedin. That's $20m that's being spent on rates rather than in those shops down town. It's one of the reason why they are closing.

If, as QSRC desires, everyone who thinks the stadium is a bad idea leaves town, there will be a lot fewer people to pay the rugby stadium rates and they will start to rise even more. If I were him I'd be careful what he wishes for, the last one to leave will have to pay the lot.

Free ticket to the real world

QsRC, the best possible thing to do for you to do would be to move into a corporate suite at "your stadium".  You would be able to spend your days looking out at the empty space to your heart's content.  But the reality is that many people cannot afford to remain in Dunedin.  They are tied however to the idiotic decisions made for them, largely, by people who don't give a stuff.  Or people that have specific sector interests at heart.  I'm driven to the view that you may have been one of the few that have benefitted by the last decade of debacle - who would know, but I certainly do know that you are in the very small minority that support the ratepayers paying the ORFU for their support system.  Time you joined the real world.

When does the concern begin?

QsRC: Ratepayers of Dunedin now carry a consolidated debt of $622 million. Divided by 53,000 that is around $11,700 each. Your answer to money wasted by Council on rugby or pretty much anything is, stop whining and leave town. So what actually makes you worry about the fact Dunedin is broke and your rates must rise because of it? That is the problem - people are leaving town, and our population has only risen 6% since 1976. George Street is full of empty shops and there are dozens of commercial properties for lease. Clearly as long as you have your stadium all is well with the world. No economic growth, record unemployment and spiralling debt clearly don't matter.

When and where

So where are you moving to QsRc, and when?

Move from hear hear

Wouldn't Dunedin be a lovely place if more people took the below advice and moved to other places which made them happy?

Hear hear

I also agree Speed, but alas every time you pay your rates bill you are still paying for the ORFU, so by default you are still forking out for rugby. I sold up and left town to avoid being a slave to these leeches and a spineless DCC that bends to every whim they present.

Give it back

Im with Girlyswot. Any profit that rugby is showing should be returned to the council for debt repayment. It should be remembered that if it wasn't for council and Dunedin ratepayers, there would not be any such thing as Otago Rugby.

I read with interest all the previous comments re money owed. No mention there about the $13 odd million spent by ratepayers for Carisbrook upgrades (terrace redevelopment about 20 years ago) that is now just a pile of rubble. That's about $1 million a year stumped up by ratepayers that can also be added to Otago rugby's indebtedness to the people of this city.

I laughed out loud when I heard the announcement that Otago rugby was bankrupt. It was all their own doing and they should have been left to go down the S-bend. After many years of supporting Otago rugby, one thing is guaranteed. They will never get another cent out of me. 

Give it back

We cannot afford the stadium, which has debt up the wazoo.  Now, when we could get at least a payment plan going with the rugby people for the money used to bail them out to the tune of a half million dollars (or so, including interest etc) you say "No, keep it."  Say what?  No, no, no.  We need it back when they can pay it back.  It doesn't need to be in one lump, because it may affect their viability, but all payments greatfully accepted.  I work hard for my money Dave.  Give it back.

Hands round the throat

The word "welsh" is not the only thing Mayor Cull has wrong.  It was almost half a million that the ORFU owed the City's ratepayers and the only response was some more professional rugby games that meant nothing at the time, and even less now.  Professional rugby seems to have a vice-like grip on the City's so-called leaders right from the time that the ORFU got the DCC to act as a banker with the $2m loan, through the whole debacle of building them a new stadium, to the Carisbrook purchase fiasco, to the never-ending operational financial losses.  Not to forget the allied financial wind-falls to the few.  Mayor Cull has proven he has no mind to hold anyone accountable for anything it seems and until responsibility is connected to accountability then nothing much will change - whether in Wales or in Dunedin.

Council contracts

The DCC very obviously needs tuition in writing effective contracts. When writing the "Give me the money" contract with the ORFU, a clause should have been inserted requiring a cash payback when the ORFU became profitable. This was not done. The St Clair seawall contract also failed to ensure that the DCC would be fully reimbursed in the event of wall/steps collapse even with a change in ownership. The Anzac Ave intersection access disaster is another example of poor contract writing. Cull and Council plus Bidrose need some basic tuition on contract writing that protects Dunedin ratepayers when contracts go bad.Cull should be stating the net $$$ payback to the Council from the stadium events he lists. But that won't happen of course.

You have to be joking

What is it about rugby that casts a spell over the city's power brokers? There has been $3.1 million lost on Carisbrook due to the deal done with the ORFU. Wouldn't it be fair for the ORFU to pay the money back it got from ratepayers over an extended period even if it was interest free. They may well be a tenant at the stadium but we already know the ticket sales are not covering costs.

Look around the country at all the Super 15 and ITM Cup games and one can see thousands of empty seats. Unless its an All Black test people are staying away from live rugby in droves. Penguin Place has no money and has to beg for funds from the community as Council gives this popular tourist attraction next to nothing.

How about Soccer, Hockey, Lawn Bowls etc, would Council bail any of these sports out? The quest to support rugby in Dunedin has cost ratepayers millions, they had no say in this decision and now have to stand by whilst the Mayor and the ORFU brag about just how well the ORFU is doing. I see shops regularly shutting down in George Street, businesses going broke, does Council offer them money to stay in business? Did they offer money or a loan to help Bell Tea stay open and preserve people's jobs? Or how about Living Space or the Aberdeen Motel? It is nothing short of a disgrace that a game has been elevated to a position where it matters more than just about anything else.

What deal?

Mr Cull, who ran for office on a platform of transparent government, has yet to release the details of the deal he made with professional, for profit, rugby to forgive their debts - this is a great chance for him to show off the tremendous business acumen he must have displayed on our behalf.

So what did he get in exchange, surely not the right to lose more money through DVML? It's time to release the details and see why it is we continue to pay to support rugby through our rates, when clearly there seem to be thousands of committed rugby fans prepared to pay to watch their teams play - why aren't they paying enough through their ticket  sales to cover the cost of running their venue? surely it's simply a matter of raising ticket prices to cover costs. What is it in this secret deal that stops DVML from simply raising their prices to cover their costs? otherwise it should be just the stroke of a pen to solve all their financial problems.

Worked for who

The ORFU can afford to pay for its own parties now?

Does the ratepayer remain exposed by council overspending and future assistance to rugby?

It would have been reasonable for the ORFU to show it is at least grateful by some sort of repayment now it is in the black.

Pigs might fly.



That's just great

I take it that we 53,000 ratepayers will receive the same treatment when we fall upon hard times.

Thank you very much.

Making light

The total value of DCC's bailout package as reported by ODT (24.5.12) was $480,000 - not $400,000, as indicated in this news story. The city ratepayers had no say in this appalling misuse of public monies to support a less than stellar, dubious and failed professional rugby team (an entertainment business) that was never worth the paper it was written on.

No Welsh, bach

That's a shame. We need more Welsh. They never 'welch'.

Renege might be a better word

Did Cull truly use the derogatory term "welsh"? Next he will say the council didn't want to be seen as an "Indian giver".

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