Fresh take on paying off stadium debt

A fresh perspective on dealing with Dunedin City Council's stadium debt has been proposed to councillors, by someone keen to pay off her share as soon as possible.

Accountant Yuet Khwan Marshall, who specialises in forensic auditing, suggested at the city's Annual Plan hearings individual ratepayers should be given the option of paying off their portion of the capital cost of the stadium in one lump sum.

The council would receive cash up front, allowing it to reduce the loan and hence the amount of interest payable.

"By way of example, if a 20-year loan generated say $80 per year on an average rates bill, then a one-off payment of $1600 should be allowed to clear the stadium debt of that property."

Ratepayers paying a lump sum would benefit the council and wider community as it would lower the remaining debt for people who could not afford to pay it.

"It's a win-win."

Ms Marshall was submitting to the committee which has been hearing public submissions on the Dunedin City Council draft annual and long-term plan.

She said keeping the stadium debt in a 40-year loan would cost ratepayers an extra $113 million to $123 million in interest charges. That provided significant incentive to keep the loan on a 20-year term.

Councillors are to deliberate next week on the council's draft budgets, including on whether to reduce the loan period on the stadium debt to a 20-year loan.

Ms Marshall said she believed a small, but not insignificant percentage of ratepayers would be willing to pay their debt in a lump sum.

"Let those of us who are willing and able reduce the loan to a more manageable level."

Dunedin had a proud history of building up civic assets and this generation should not embark on the opposite course of needlessly building up debt to be funded by future citizens of the city.

"Not everyone may be able to do it, but give us the option. We're here to help."

Chairman of the hearings committee Mayor Dave Cull thanked Ms Marshall for her submission, which he said was "extremely novel".



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