Ratepayers group plan gaining traction

A bid to establish a ratepayers group in Dunedin is gathering momentum.

Fuelled by frustration with some Dunedin City Council decisions, an incorporated society was set up at the end of last year.

The city has not had ratepayers association since 2013.

After an appeal for members last week, acting chairman Murray Lawrence said he had received dozens of emails from people wanting to get involved.

He was pleased with the wide range of experience those people offered — from engineering to strategic planning.

"It’s quite heartening to know people out there are also concerned with what we’re trying to achieve," he said.

A small group of residents had been meeting recently to discuss concerns such as the extent of planned rates rises and escalating debt, spending perceived as wasteful and councillors being at odds with sections of the community about transport and what was needed to foster a vibrant city centre.

It was still early days, Mr Lawrence said.

"We’re just testing the waters and we’ll see how it pans out, but there have been really strong expressions of interest."

Mayor Aaron Hawkins said any effort to promote participation in council processes, by individuals or groups, was welcome.

"We’re lucky enough to have dozens of groups in the city that make submissions to council on behalf of their members.

"None of them represent all residents though.

"Our job is to weigh up their often competing demands as we make decisions in the best interests of the city, now and into the future," Mr Hawkins said



This ratepayers group has not asked for residents to be involved. Residents make up the bulk of ratepayers in the central city but businesses think they should have the most say.

They should just call the group the Lee Vandervis fanclub.



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