Councillors disagree on debt repayment

The Dunedin City Council's success in repaying millions of dollars of debt ahead of schedule should be a cause for celebration, a frustrated Dunedin city councillor says.

Instead, the achievement sparked another verbal tussle between councillors who locked horns over the figures at yesterday's council finance committee meeting.

The debate came as councillors considered a report showing core debt, excluding companies, had dropped to $233million by the end of last year, $23.7million ahead of forecasts.

Cr Mike Lord said the result deserved praise, particularly given the council had agreed to take on $30million of stadium-related debt from Dunedin Venues Management Ltd last year.

Despite that, one year on, the council was just $6million worse off than last year's figure, he said.

"I think that's significant.''

But Cr Lee Vandervis disagreed, saying there was "no joy to be had'' in the council's results.

To suggest the council had inherited the $30million of stadium-related debt was "laughable'', as the council had created the stadium and its debt in the first place, he said.

"Nothing fundamental has changed,'' he said.

Cr Kate Wilson took umbrage at his comments, saying the council had managed to turn the ship around.

Despite that, there was a perception the city was always being run down, and successes should be celebrated, she said.

"We have got a great return here for the year ... it gives me great confidence that this city is in a really good position and growing, and we shouldn't keep running it down,'' she said.

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