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Dunedin city councillors will today open the city's accounts, beginning what is bound to be a contentious process of setting both the budget, and the annual rates increase.
But day one of that process - its political ramifications more acute in an election year - will be done away from the public eye.
This year's draft annual plan meeting will be a one- or two-day affair, preceded today by a councillors' "workshop", with the public and media excluded.
The budget for the next financial year includes a 7.3% rise in rates, along with increased fees and charges for activities ranging from building a house to burying the dead, and a 61.3% rise in the next 10 years.
Mayor Peter Chin said workshops were held throughout the year, and were never in public.
The meeting was for councillors to ask questions of staff to get a better understanding of the issues, and it was possible confidential information would be discussed.
No decisions would be made until the meeting became public.
"It's not a debate forum at all - all that will happen on Thursday. Hopefully, the debates that take place will be far more focused, because councillors will understand the issues well."
A second day, February 1, has been set aside if work is not finished on Thursday.