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But while some Dunedin city councillors appear relatively united on that front, decisions on whether to borrow millions of dollars to continue with capital projects, or defer the big-ticket items, appear more contentious.
Councillor Lee Vandervis prepared three motions for the latest council meeting, including one calling for a proposed 6.5% rates increase to be scrapped, but the meeting was cancelled due to issues about having a quorum online.
He also wanted to suspend penalties on the non-payment of rates for a year, and allow people to defer rates for a year.
Non-essential council projects should be deferred for 12 months, but infrastructure projects, especially drainage, should continue to keep local contracting businesses going, he said.
He criticised Mayor Aaron Hawkins for being set on continuing with the "ideological, extraordinarily wasteful" pedestrianisation of George St.
Yesterday, Mr Hawkins said he, too, wanted a rates freeze.
Rather than deferring projects, he wanted to borrow the money instead.
The rates increase would have generated about $10 million, he said.
"I don’t think now is the time to be slashing public spending, but I also appreciate that putting rates up from July 1 is an increasingly difficult proposition for a growing number of people.
"This way, we can do both."
He had asked council staff to prepare information for councillors about that option for deliberations in May.
He was against the idea of deferring major capital projects, such as the centre city and tertiary precinct projects.
Big projects were funded over several years, so deferring by one year would not make a huge difference, he said.
He also highlighted the importance of those projects to the local economy.
The council had taken measures to reduce spending in some areas, such as voluntary salary cuts for senior managers and deferring staffing appointments.
The council’s travel spending would also be minimal this year, Mr Hawkins said.
For Cr Andrew Whiley, the key was for councillors to have good information in front of them before making any decisions.
"This is uncharted territory for council, and for all councils around the country, and for any decision to be made off the bat, I really struggle."
He was unsure what would happen in terms of rates.
"I would very much like to support a zero increase in rates."
But an increase, albeit potentially a smaller one, could also still be on the table.
No matter what happened, the council should not stop investing in the community and in infrastructure, he said.
"I would support the debt being increased," he said.
"We have to invest in the community, and probably the one thing I’ve learned in the past six-and-a-half years in council is residents are very frustrated that not enough money has been invested in their communities."
Cr Rachel Elder said a rates freeze should be looked at, and she wanted councillors to consider the annual plan and individual projects again.
That was because the context under which it was drafted had completely changed, she said.
"I believe we need to have a good, long look at it, and consider a freeze, and figure out what’s important and what’s not so important."