Cull keen to add 'richness' to city

Dave Cull
Dave Cull
Now is the time for the Dunedin City Council to focus on projects which will add richness to the city as well as providing ratepayers with the services they need.

Those were the opening remarks from Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull at the start of the council's three-day long meeting on the city's draft 10-year plan, yesterday.

The draft plan sets out $854 million of spending during the next 10 years adding tens of millions of dollars the city's debt but also outlines a programme of investment aimed at bringing significant benefits to the city.

Dunedin was ``humming'' and in better shape than at any time in the past five years, so now was the time to depart from the previous pattern of austerity and debt reduction, Mr Cull told councillors.

While the council needed to be careful and considerate with spending, it needed to be balanced with investment and the enhancement of the city.

``If we only ever focused on cost, we wouldn't do anything and we would have nothing.''

Dunedin needed to compete with other centres for both people and business and now was the time to think beyond just providing services and move towards adding richness to the city.

``I don't think we should be frightened by numbers,'' he said.

All the other councillors, apart from one, had a similar view to the mayor.

Cr Lee Vandervis said the council was elected on the understanding large rate rises were a thing of the past but what was proposed more than doubled them in the first year.

``We are now saying it's time to depart from a pattern of austerity, but to me this is a teetering tower of debt.''

The new Mosgiel pool, the harbourside connection and the millions being spent on the city's water infrastructure needed to be the priorities for the council, not a $60million refurbishment of the city centre, Cr Vandervis said.

Cr Jim O'Malley said if Dunedin wanted to be a great city, the council could not spend money only on infrastructure.

Cr Christine Garey said the best thing the council could do was go to the community with the full plan and give them the opportunity to respond.

Provided the community saw something for its money it would be a very exciting time for the city, she said.

Cr Andrew Whiley said if the council did not show some leadership and invest in the city then other organisations like the University of Otago and central government would question their investments.

Cr Marie Laufiso said she was in favour of rates increases if it meant more social spending but the city also needed to look outside of the box, possibly at some sort of cannabis or hemp industry.

Cr Rachel Elder said judging by the response to the Steamer Basin proposal, people were ready for a bold city vision.

Cr Mike Lord said he agreed with Cr Vandervis on some points but he would rather spend more now than do things on the cheap and regret it later.

Cr Chris Staynes said the city was in a very positive position both economically and socially so it was time to look to the future.

Cr Damian Newell said the council needed to invest in the future so his children and grandchildren wanted to stay and live in the city.

Cr Kate Wilson said the plan gave the community the opportunity to let the council know what their vision for the future of the city was.

Cr David Benson-Pope said there was an enormous expectation from the community about the first round of discussions on the plan.

Chief executive Sue Bidrose said this year's plan contained ``a whole lot of business as usual'' with some added projects.

Councillors had to decide whether they wanted those projects to remain on the radar, Dr Bidrose said.

Throughout the meeting Cr Vandervis was a lone voice, voting against various items in the plan.



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It's got to be very worrying when Lee Vandervis is the sole sane voice. A "great city", "exciting times", "leadership", "more social spending", "bold vision", "invest in the future". It would seem that councillors are already customers of the "cannabis and hemp" industry one of them wants to spend ratepayer money on.

Thank you Cr Lee Vandervise. So wish I had voted for you to be Mayor.

"We shouldn't be frightened by numbers". One of the dumbest statements to come from the mouth of a councilor ever. Of course these people aren't worried about the cost, its not their money. Saddling ratepayers with 7% increases when inflation is below 3% and pensions and wages are barely moving. Not a problem though, its just council money.
Add the stupidity of selling off council assets to have a one off splurge on more bike paths and bridges, then these councilors really are proving they simply don't care about the future of Dunedin. They are just in it for a big splashy headline to make themselves feel good.

Two councillors were reported as saying hardship in paying rates for low income people could be addressed by the rates rebate from central government. This is capped at a maximum of $620 p.a. and eligible pensioners who have applied and have no other income would already be getting this maximum. So significantly increasing rates (those increases are compounding over five or so years) does actually make it harder for low income residents to keep their homes. I doubt this rebate was ever intended to deter local government reps from taking rates affordability into account. These proposed increases are tough for a low income city with an aging population. 'Parity' with other cities is not a good argument - overall local government spending keeps increasing. 'Visions' might attract visitors and newcomers (maybe) but at the cost of the locals. Most of whom will start protesting only when they get their increased rates bill.

Selling off assets, is what you do when you need food or a roof over your head. Not when you want to buy that new TV or Cellphone and cant afford it.These rate increases over the next 10 years work out to be something like 47.7% so nearly half again our current rates. Who can afford that I cant.
Whats this "``humming'' and in better shape than at any time in the past five years"
Dunedin is not humming more like screaming for help and falling to bits. So keep it real or get off the pot.
Cull get your head out of where ever it is and take a good look at the damage you and your mob have done. Seems to me a lot of the counselors are going against what they said they stood for and for what they are voted in for. 20 MILLION ON A FANCY BRIDGE ! is just madness in a city that is struggling to keep its head above the water. Use that 20 million for thing that did doing. and Spen $6 to 10 million and revamp one of the other bridges to suit the purpose thus saving the rate payer $10 to $14 MILLION. They forget its an aging demographic in Dunedin all the young are leaving. And the old cant afford the rates now.
time to throw this mob out. A vote of no confidence from this kid

Our Dunedin Rates were more expensive than the rates we paid in Devonport Auckland, We got more bang for your buck in Auckland, Dunedin's people need to protest outside the town hall so it gets on the 6 O'clock news, that is when Cull and his council members (Councillor Lee Vandervis not included) will wake up. To be honest I'm glad I left the place after 16 months. Cull needs to go.

Does this Mayor think the rate payers are made of cash? They want to build a $20 million hideous bridge for gods sake. Lee Vandervis the only voice of sanity as usual, sort out the infrastructure first this is what rates are for not pet projects.

Dunedin Don't let Cull suddenly have a vision like this. Cull needs to be gone sooner than later, Start with employment for Dunedin people by encouraging new businesses then the coin will come, Oil and Gas will bring follow on businesses. Be Gone Cull

If the council sees the future of the City as some kind of cannabis hub it is a bit of a depressing vision.

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