Citizens group meet on rates hike

Reduce Rates Group members Robyn Vintiner (left) and Sandy Lotus are concerned about the Dunedin...
Reduce Rates Group members Robyn Vintiner (left) and Sandy Lotus are concerned about the Dunedin City Council’s proposed rates increases. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
More than 200 concerned Dunedin citizens have come together to dispute an "unacceptable" rates hike.

Reduce Rates Group is a newly formed group of concerned citizens who have assembled to express their concerns in the wake of a proposed 17.5% rates increase by the Dunedin City Council, with the goal of presenting their concerns to the council.

Spokeswoman Sandy Lotus said the group held its first public meeting last month and about 220 people attended.

Another meeting is scheduled for Friday.

From gathering expressions of interest around the city, the group believed the number of people concerned about rates had been increasing "quite considerably", she said.

"The level of rates rise proposed is unacceptable and is extremely concerning to many of the community who are already struggling financially," she said.

"The council needs to keep rates at an affordable level."

Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich previously said the projected rates hike of 17.5% was necessary to fund urgent Three Waters infrastructure upgrades — contributing 5.4% to the increase.

"Like it or not, we are going to have to pay for it ourselves and we have to get on with the job," he said.

Ms Lotus said the group’s concern was not with the large infrastructural spends but instead with other unnecessary spending such as cycleways.

The $13.2 million Forbury Park spend had also received criticism from the group.

"They borrowed every single cent to buy it. What on earth for?

"We don’t need that right now, it’s not necessary — that could have gone into infrastructure."

The fact Dunedin was below the nationwide average for rates did not offer Ms Lotus any comfort either.

Several councillors including Mr Radich were expected to be in attendance at Friday’s meeting, along with Cr Lee Vandervis who would give the audience "the state of the books", she said.

"We look forward to a constructive and productive meeting with the councillors.

"After all, we’re all in this together."

The meeting will be held on Friday, April 12, at 7pm at the Alhambra-Union Rugby Club.