Dunedin City Council confirms 6.5% rates increase

The report, published through the Government-funded Deep South Challenge, looked at the risk for...
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The Dunedin City Council has confirmed a rates increase of 6.5%.

Several councillors at today’s meeting argued the rise, together with a substantial capital programme, allowed necessary and important work to get done.

Deputy mayor Christine Garey said the council should be proud of the decisions it had made.

Cr Mike Lord said people often told the council they wanted potholes fixed and facilities to be up to scratch.

That came at a cost and Cr Lord was heartened by progress in getting planned work done.

Cr David Benson-Pope said a lot of development activity had been happening across the city, including from the private sector.

“Dunedin is transforming itself before our eyes,” Cr Benson-Pope said.

Crs Lee Vandervis and Carmen Houlahan voted against the council adopting its annual plan.

Cr Vandervis said spending was happening to fix things that did not need fixing. He cited the makeover of George St and development of cycleways as examples.

Unprecedented spending was happening at a time when the world lacked stability, he said.

Cr Houlahan said a rates increase of 5% would be “enough” and she would rather reduce rates than increase them.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said a rates reduction would create a funding hole of about $11 million or $12 million and result in cuts to service levels or fee hikes at facilities such as libraries and Moana Pool.

The council could not cut rates without cutting services to the community, he said.

Cr Houlahan raised several points of order through the day - none upheld - and Mr Hawkins suggested she read over standing orders to enhance her understanding of meeting protocol.

Points of order were sometimes being used for trivial reasons, he said.

Voting against adoption of the annual plan amounted to "virtue signalling", he said.

Cr Chris Staynes described rhetoric about cutting spending as naive. The city would go backwards if investment in it was inadequate, he said.

Cr Andrew Whiley said putting off spending would create "headaches down the road".

Cr Jules Radich said the council's 10-year plan budgeting last year was set "in more buoyant times".

A cost-of-living crisis had emerged since and the world was probably facing a recession, he said.

In what seemed to be a reference to him contesting the mayoralty this year, Cr Radich said a change of thinking would be needed from the council next year.

Cr Rachel Elder said she was pleased about spending on playgrounds, as well as progress on a planned trail between Mosgiel and Dunedin.



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