DCC backs second highest rates increase since 1989

The Dunedin City Council has backed a higher-than-expected rates rise of 7.84%, after agreeing to a series of last-minute funding boosts yesterday.

The council has also signed off on a 4% increase in most fees and charges, despite an acrimonious exchange that brought Crs David Benson-Pope and Lee Vandervis to loggerheads.

But Mayor Dave Cull insists the rates hike, like the fees and charges, are just a normal part of the cycle as cities invest in their futures.

The comments came as councillors ended three days of deliberations on their 10-year plan by signing off on changes yesterday, subject to final confirmation at a full council meeting on June 26.

And, after granting last-minute funding boosts totalling $710,000 for 2018-19, the forecast rates increase for the year climbed from 7.3% at the start of the week to 7.84% late yesterday.

That was within the council's new self-imposed rates limit of 8% for the first year, but prompted Cr Vandervis to question whether 8% was the target, while Cr Doug Hall observed it was Dunedin's second-highest rates increase since 1989.

Council chief executive Sue Bidrose said the city's rates would remain in the lower quartile, while other centres across the country eyed increases of between 3% and 15%.

''I imagine it will change our standing a little, but we are still near the bottom,'' she said.

Mr Cull said cities went through cycles of investment, leading to periods of higher rates increases, but the alternative would be worse.

Those cities that kept rates artificially low by not spending in the short term were eventually forced to catch up, leading to ''massive rates increases'' later, he said.

''They pay the price in the end. The idea is to try to keep it smooth, but every now and then you have got to invest,'' he said.

Councillors voted to endorse the changes, including the rates hike, despite Cr Vandervis voting against the resolution.

Earlier, he also railed against a 4% increase in most council fees and charges, also signed off by councillors yesterday, saying the increases might as well be called ''fees and gouges''.

''It's yet another rates increase that is in a fees and charges guise,'' he said.

Cr Benson-Pope objected, saying the comment was ''irresponsible'' and ''pretty offensive'' to councillors and staff.

''They might be acceptable to his less-than-critical support base, but they are not accurate and they are not honest,'' Cr Benson-Pope quipped.

Mr Cull also took issue with Cr Vandervis' comments, saying if fees did not rise, rates would .

''You raise these [concerns] every time, and you get an explanation every time, regardless of whether you like it or not.

''It's one or the other.''

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

Comments

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I understand the city much progress and maintain its structure and I am all for that, but the magnitude of these rate increases are well out of hand. If I went to my employer and asked for a 7.8%pay increase he would laugh me out of his office so where are ratepayers suppose to find all this extra money? Maybe I could borrow the council's magic wand and all would be taken care. Yeah right. So Mr.Cull tell us how do we citizens fund your increases?

Robust political argument is to be expected in the DCC council chamber but I really wish Dunedin's councillors would follow Standing Orders, the rules for the meetings and that the meeting chair (usually the mayor) would enforce them.
Cr Benson-Pope crosses the line IMO if reported accurately speaking as follows (about Cr Vandervis' view on increases fees and charges):

Cr Benson-Pope objected, saying the comment was ''irresponsible'' and ''pretty offensive'' to councillors and staff. ''They might be acceptable to his less-than-critical support base, but they are not accurate and they are not honest,'' Cr Benson-Pope quipped. (ends)

Once more, 'dishonesty' is attributed to Cr Vandervis and this is contrary to Standing Orders but the chair of the meeting (the mayor) does nothing. But in addition, Cr Benson-Pope casts aspersions on Cr Vandervis' electoral supporters. I am one of them and am extremely critical! Also Cr Vandervis was the highest polling council candidate at the last election (as far as can be determined by STV results).
http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/562510/Du
So Cr Benson-Pope is casting aspersions on the democratic process itself.

No Mr Cull, it is not "one or the other". There is an obvious third alternative — rein in your grandiose, empire-building, spending.

As for Benson-Pope, what's "offensive" is that he fails to understand such basic arithmetic.

Benson-Pope with his typical ploy of being offended by anyone who dare question the MIGHTY council.....!
I suggest he take a look around at those less well-off than he is and then explain why its this generation of ratepayers who, lumbered with stadium debt, are now expected to carry the burden of a further 'period of investment'
Not all ratepayers are on council salaries Mr Benson-Pope, Mayor Cull and others...it's way past time you realised this glaring fact!

Well Said Snozzman, I suspect its the little bubble they are in. It doesn't help when they refuse new businesses to the town.

"Vote the Bums out!" is a longtime battle cry against bureaucrats. The arrogance of most council members who voted for this obscene increase, typifies just how much out of touch they are with the people who pay their salaries and fees- the ratepayers. We will remember them and vote accordingly.

Cap spending to the after tax salary/wage increase of Dunedites- not Lalaland increases. If you need more money, cut the services that are not being used- or better still let the rate payers decide what to cut or increase via a binding postal referendum- a referendum that $50-100k costs to save $850m- a no brainer, or are you afraid that you would loose?

Why do we need a bridge to nowhere before the rest of the waterfront is developed?, a Sammy's etc? beats me. Then again I only pay thousands in rates every year- so what is my worth? -a voter who remembers.

110% agree, I know of another Bridge to nowhere also known as the Bridge of no return once you cross it. It is in the DMZ between North and South Korea. Maybe when Dull's village is built with the wall, this will be Dunedin's Bridge of No return.

Mr Benson Pope brought his style of politics to the DCC for the first time in 1966. He was in large part responsible for the disastrous and devisive capital value rating system introduced after that. His politics have not changed.
I chose to vote with my feet and left Dunedin almost twenty years ago. For the most part I loved the people of Dunedin but felt that the City Fathers had illusions of grandeur with little regard for the fact that the "dreams" had to be paid for... sadly, it seems that little has changed.

Rate, rise out of touch with the inflation rate, out of touch with reality, out of touch with the rate payers. The sheer arrogance and ignorance shown to Dunedin rate payers is appalling. No wonder our base population is forever shrinking. Business and jobs first the rest will follow, not strangling every last bit of cash out of a captive segment of the public. The rates rise is to fund future flawed idealistic self aggrandising schemes. We are still paying for the last lot of self indulged self serving delusional mania.

Once again as a rate payer I ask the question when are these people going to be stopped.

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