The heat is on the Dunedin City Council's targeted 3%
rates rise as councillors prepare to debate unexpected demands
for extra funding, Mayor Dave Cull says.
Mr Cull told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he still
hoped the council's stated aim - of limiting any rates rise
for 2014-15 to no more than 3% - could be achieved.
But he acknowledged emerging demands for extra funding not
yet included in the council's draft budget for the coming
year were putting the council's books under pressure.
Councillors would have to decide whether to try to do
everything, and risk a rates rise higher than 3%, or allow
some projects to fall by the wayside, he indicated.
''We could meet the 3% target by just not doing some things.
Clearly though, if we try and do a lot more than what we had
anticipated, it would be harder to do it within the 3%
He was not in a position to judge the appetite for either
around the council table, ahead of budget deliberations
beginning this afternoon.
''I honestly don't know. I can only express my view.''
His comments came after he and councillors heard from more
than 170 submitters, from the 1119 who made written
submissions, over three days last week.
The result was a list of requests and decisions, big and
small, which would be debated by councillors during the next
That included a suggestion the amount paid to Dunedin Venues
Management Ltd each year should rise by $715,000 a year, to
offset losses by Forsyth Barr Stadium, on top of a one-off
$2.271 million to repay DVML's debt.
The additional annual payment would come from savings the
council made on interest payments this year, while repaying
DVML's loans faster would achieve ongoing savings in future
The proposal was among 19 council staff reports to be
considered by councillors this week, some of which could have
significant implications for the coming year's budget.
Mr Cull said the call for extra stadium funding was not
unexpected, having been signalled earlier this year, and
needed to be addressed.
''Regardless of how you feel about the stadium and how it's
operating, the fact is they can't run at a loss. It has to be
Paying down DVML debt would, in turn, generate ongoing
savings by eliminating debt servicing costs sooner, he said.
A report by council financial planner Carolyn Howard listed
last-minute changes to the draft budget for 2014-15,
resulting in a $23,000 saving.
It also listed four as-yet unfunded items to be considered
for inclusion in the budget, including the expected $300,000
cost of transferring public transport governance from the
Otago Regional Council to the DCC.
Work on a St Clair sea wall risk management plan - also
unfunded - was expected to cost at least another $95,000, and
an invest-to-save option - installing energy-efficient
lighting in the Civic Centre - was expected to cost another
$65,000 up front.
There was also the as-yet unknown cost of a South Dunedin
Community Complex shopfront to be considered, Ms Howard said.
Savings identified within the council's carry-forward budget
amounted to $445,000, while funding sources for public
transport governance changes were still being explored, she
Mr Cull told the ODT the financial implications
remained uncertain ahead of this week's deliberations, and
emerging demands for funding had put ''a lot of pressure
However, he hoped the council would stick to its 3% target.
''In principal, I'm keen to stick to that myself. That's
obviously a council decision, but I think the community has
taken considerable reassurance in the last couple of years,
as we've managed to hit the targets we've set without going
''I would like to keep faith with that.''