Decision to fund stadium not in ORC plan

Otago Regional Council's decision to contribute to funding Otago Stadium is not being consulted on in its upcoming long-term planning consultation, but that did not stop the issue becoming a debating point yesterday.

The council's finance and corporate committee yesterday discussed and then adopted its draft Long Term Council Community Plan.

It included proposals to increase the general rate by 1% and introduce four new targeted rates - to contribute to Otago Stadium, provide new bus services to Queenstown, continue the clean air, clean heat project and complete Shotover Delta flood protection work.

The public were also being provided with the opportunity to have their say on the new costings for the proposed office block.

Cr David Shepherd said "the devil was in the detail" and while the general rate increase was small, targeted rates were growing all the time.

Communities expected the regional council would do work like flood protection and provide services like buses, but they needed to "understand the more they ask, the more it costs", he said.

"They cannot expect the council to do it all for them."

However, it was a recommendation asking councillors to approve it was financially prudent to have operating deficits in its first three years of the plan, that proved a sticking point for Cr Michael Deaker.

Corporate services director Wayne Scott said it was a requirement of the Local Government Act that the council approve the deficit, which came about because the stadium contributions were an operating expense funded by borrowings.

It did not put the council at any risk.

Cr Deaker, who opposed the council funding the stadium, said he could not vote for the recommendation because he did not believe it was prudent.

"While I like the LTCCP in every other respect I think the majority of council [who voted for the stadium funding] has ignored the requirement to be prudent."

Chairman Stephen Cairns challenged Cr Deaker, taking exception to the implication he had acted imprudently on behalf of Otago ratepayers if he voted in favour of the recommendation.

Acknowledging that he and Cr Deaker could have a "100% difference of opinion over the stadium", Mr Cairns said he was "deeply upset" by the implication, as the council had gone through the proper consultation process before making its decision.

Chief executive Graeme Martin warned councillors that if the recommendation was not passed the council would have to reconsider the contents of the plan and its funding policy.

Committee chairman Duncan Butcher said while councillors had differences of opinion, they had always been able to put them aside and carry on, once a decision had been made.

Mr Cairns said the council's auditors gave the plan an unqualified audit opinion.

The recommendation was adopted as were recommendations which would see the plan go out for public consultation on May 1 and a hearing panel comprising councillors Butcher, Doug Brown, Stephen Woodhead, Gretchen Robertson, Bryan Scott and Louise Croot was formed.

Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter