Future of $71.2 million fund raised

The chairman of the Dunedin City Council's finance and strategy committee has again raised the prospect of cashing in the $71.2 million Waipori fund.

Cr Richard Walls told councillors at this week's committee meeting possibilities for the fund's future use should "always exercise our minds".

Standard and Poor's - which most recently assessed the council's financial position in December last year - considered the Waipori fund an asset able to be liquidated and used to pay off debt, Cr Walls said.

Against that were many reasons not to cash in the fund, including the steady income the council received from investments made using the fund, he said.

"It may well be a new council may need to look at what the intentions are with the Waipori fund.

"It's something that should always exercise our mind," he said.

It is not the first time the idea has been raised.

In 2007, just weeks after plans for the Forsyth Barr Stadium were announced, it was suggested - again by Cr Walls - consideration be given to cashing in the fund and using the money to pay for the stadium.

Others councillors argued against such a move.

A working party was established to examine the idea, but the fund has remained in the years since.

On Saturday, the Otago Daily Times reported the fund ended the first six months of the financial year with a surplus of $5.2 million.

The fund was established in 1998 from the proceeds of the sale of the Waipori electricity generation scheme and shares held in the former electricity retailer, United Electricity.

 

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