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After councillors added $50,000 to the council’s budget, declining the bulk of funding requests with budgetary implications, Cr Chris Staynes balked at a $1million Covid-19 recovery fund, which he was told would push the rates rise to 4.13%.
He instead argued for a $950,000 fund to maintain the 4.1% increase agreed to at the start of deliberations on Wednesday.
Cr Staynes pushed back as well at a suggestion by Cr Lee Vandervis the fund councillors created in response to the social wellbeing and economic fallout from the global pandemic was a "slush fund".
"Clearly, we don’t have complete picture yet of a true impact [of Covid-19]," Cr Staynes said.
"It would be unwise today to allocate that money to particular places.
"We have a responsibility to review those options and invest wisely. This money is part of our ratepayers’ contribution."
Cr Vandervis was the lone voice of dissent in a 14-1 decision yesterday.
"Every business that I know of is cutting back," he said.
And yet the council "charges on ... regardless" with a rates rise, and increased borrowing of $7,538,000, adding the recovery fund "sounds very slushy to me".
He called the recovery fund an abrogation of decision-making to staff and a licence for staff to spend money and write a retrospective report.
"We’ve got absolutely no idea what it’s for, we’ve got no detail," he said.
"We decide the price ... but have no idea what’s going to be in it. "
Cr David Benson-Pope said he was "more than a little disappointed" in his colleagues’ "lack of vision".
Cr Jim O’Malley said slashing budgets was "an easy position to take".
"We are 15 people; we are 15 different views," he said. "This is the will of the council coming through."
Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins rebuffed any suggestion of a significant restructure in the face of Covid-19.
"That’s what a business would do, but we are not a business," he said.
This week’s deliberations will be incorporated into the council’s 2020-21 annual plan due for adoption on June 30.