Lone dissenting vote as 7.7% rates rise adopted

Dunedin's rate increase for the 2011-12 year, a 7.7% rise, passed the final hurdle yesterday, when the city council adopted this year's annual plan and set the rates.

The council, Mayor Dave Cull said in his introduction to the plan, had been "mindful of the impact on ratepayers and their ability to pay for not only major projects, but other city initiatives to make our city a safer, more vibrant place to live and work".

The council was also acutely aware, he said, of the value of the many unpaid organisations in the city, and their contribution.

The debate as the council voted to adopt the plan was reasonably brief, but followed a year of work by staff, days of consultation and deliberation, and this year, departmental budgeting initiatives that are still under way.

Cr Lee Vandervis told the meeting he did not support the final plan, as it was "so little different" from the "unsatisfactory" draft plan.

He said it was based on assumptions that were untenable, and the council was borrowing $28 million to pay "a runaway interest bill".

Cr Jinty MacTavish said she had "some sympathy" for those views, and the issue of debt needed to be dealt with as soon as possible.

But Cr Colin Weatherall labelled Cr Vandervis' comments a "diatribe" about decisions that had been made over a long period of time, and said he would vote in support.

All councillors, apart from Cr Vandervis, voted to approve the plan and set the rates.

Mr Cull said now that was done, it was time to begin work on next year's version.

- david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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