Councillor's under-spending claims rejected by use of facts

Lee Vandervis
Lee Vandervis
A city councillor has been fact-checked by the Dunedin City Council chief executive after claiming a ''massive'' under-spend in stormwater infrastructure was continuing.

Cr Lee Vandervis made the claim during Tuesday's annual plan meeting, when he suggested the council's budgets showed a ''massive planned stormwater under-spend'' would continue until 2024.

But council chief executive Sue Bidrose, addressing councillors at the start of yesterday's meeting, told Cr Vandervis the claim was wrong.

His conclusions overlooked $30million in planned stormwater spending for South Dunedin added to the council's books in recent years.

''I just thought I would point that out,'' she told him.

Cr Vandervis had based his claim on a graph, which he showed to other councillors, comparing the 10-year stormwater renewals budget forecasts made in 2015 and 2018.

The graphs showed the 2018 forecasts trending well below the 2015 ones until 2024, when they increased dramatically.

Council staff were unsure about the source of the graphs, amid suggestions they had been prepared for Cr Vandervis by an outside source, the Otago Daily Times was told yesterday.

Dr Bidrose said yesterday the material was not prepared by council staff.

Cr Vandervis, responding at yesterday's meeting, said he would ''look forward to seeing the updated graphs''.

That prompted another retort from Mayor Dave Cull, who said he had the updated information.

''The lesson is to use authoritative sources for your information, and then it would be correct.''


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How embarrassing. But Dave Cull telling others to use 'authoritative sources' is the biggest laugh since the pot made a crack about the kettle's lack of cleanliness.

I wonder where Cr Vandervis obtained his figures. Did they come from publicly announced spending? Was the $30 million announced or just quietly added to the budget?

If Cr Vandervis has used full figures as released publicly then I cannot see that he has any real blame for having them wrong. It's not really his job to go searching for non-public planned spending.

On the other hand, if he missed $30 million from publicly announced spending then he really should be apologising and correcting his graphs.

The "massive, planned stormwater under-spend" is blatantly obvious to anyone with a small amount of financial skills - this includes the DCC Chief executive, the Government auditor and a few other Councillors who prefer to keep quiet. This underspend refers to the renewals capital expenditure of the DCC stormwater system - funding for this has been cut in recent years and has been inadequate for over ten years.

The $30 million is for a separate type of spending - the provision of some new pipes and equipment, which will provide some benefit, but has no benefit at all for the existing decrepit old pipes which continue to cause the South Dunedin stormwater system to get worse. The $30 million extra was announced in 2017 and isn't relevant to the discussion, The ODT's so called "fact-checker" is being disingenuous and it looks like she is doing her own "electioneering".

Agree with Trabzon. Be wary of reporters who takes sides about exactly what ‘the facts’ are.

Sue Bidrose does not work for ODT..I think reporter Chris Morris is a bloke.

Vandervis was incorrect. Snippily, you choose to blame the media.

The council is very secretive with information though. Remember how it was when the stadium was being planned, Vandervis was kept out of the loop then too. If Cull was a little more open with information then cock ups like the South Dunedin cycleways might not happen because smarter men than Cull could inform him.

Cr Vandervis isn't concerned with facts. It's all about headlines.

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