Rates rise still 9.8%; $640K for projects

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
Money was saved before spending was squeezed and the upshot of four days of debate is still a rates increase of about 9.8% in Dunedin.

Councillors approved changes to the Dunedin City Council budgets yesterday and the implications for the 10-year programme are still being calculated.

However, deliberations resulted in a programme broadly in line with what was proposed in the council’s draft 10-year plan, as well as funding for a series of extra projects, and an overall rates rise in 2021-22 of about 9.8%.

Some operational savings were found, but councillors added about $640,000, spread across various causes, and they kept faith with major programmes they had signalled they would back, such as a transport package and providing more community housing.

The council will strike the rates later this month.

More than $1.5 billion is budgeted for capital spending in the next 10 years - hundreds of thousands of dollars more than councillors thought was necessary for such spending three years ago.

Cr Rachel Elder called the 10-year plan an infrastructure budget - "from your tap to your playground".

A large increase was necessary for water, wastewater and stormwater systems; the transport network needed investment to make it more sustainable; and money was allocated for playgrounds, toilets, tracks, trails and "equity infrastructure", such as greater support for Maori, she said.

Cr Lee Vandervis said a 9.8% rates increase was unwelcome when uncertainty lingered because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cr Steve Walker said decision-making had been shaped by strong data, evidence and robust debate.

"You need to invest to get the best outcomes," he said.

Cr Jim O’Malley said the council was required to deliver wellbeing results and it did not want its infrastructure to decay.

Cr Sophie Barker said she was uncomfortable with the largest rates rise since 1989, but "this is a budget I can live with".

Cr Andrew Whiley said the process had been constructive and the council had listened to the public more effectively than it had done previously.

Mayor Aaron Hawkins said elected members had come through the process with "no significant injuries" and it was an uncertain time for local government amid reform of the sector.

Among the big decisions made by councillors was supporting a transport package worth about $53 million to alleviate traffic disruption associated with the building of the new Dunedin Hospital.

Councillors decided about $2 million a year should be spent on building more community housing and that the portfolio should be subsidised by rates.

A revamp of the kerbside rubbish and recycling collection service was supported, including a separate bin for food scraps.

More consultation is to take place before a mid-sized theatre is developed.

Council debt is projected to rise about $570 million in the next 10 years to about $880 million, but the final figure in the 10-year plan is expected to come in shy of that.

Councillors voted to approve changes to council budgets by 12 votes to three.

Crs Vandervis, Jules Radich and Carmen Houlahan voted against.

Comments

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A cruel increase for minimal value. Why not sell surplus assets? And reduce debts and save interest expense? Cut more special interest projects and only focus on core services. We need to vote those who support this increase out. We need to live within our means like any entity - without continually pillaging the ratepayer.

These dimwits never cut projects to save money, never trim staff or reduce pay. It's spend...spend...spend. Keep in mind their rate increases are on average 3 times more than most ratepayers pay increases. That is, of course, unless you work for DCC, then your pay increase is covered. Tone deaf people milking the ratepayers for all their worth!

Isn't the magic of numbers amazing when added to the delusions of intellect.
They say rates will increase by 9.8% but what does that actually mean.
Does that mean the expenditure budget increased 9.8% ?
Because if it does, that will mean a bigger increase for actual rate payers because each year government entities increase their footprint in Dunedin and that means fewer ratepayers. GOVERNMENT buildings DO NOT PAY RATES.
Cadbury's paid a commercial rate. The new hospital will pay no rates.
Cadbury's paid wages with private money. The hospital pays wages with tax money.
The same is true with the expanding university claiming more and more of the rateable land with its halls of residence. Yes, they are excellent facilities - but what will its value be to the city? Will it even come close to what the city would get if the residents rented private?
There is nothing in any of the 10-year plans that even mentions what the council is doing to make the city more productive or more attractive to industry.
This is the problem with the green socialist agenda!
It's just another ponzi scheme that sounds good on the outside, to uneducated, but is rotten on the inside.

Cr Steve Walker said ... "You need to invest to get the best outcomes."
That's right Mr Walker - and I wouldn't mind the increase if this council was capable of wise investment - however, the ever-growing list of DCC glorious failures clearly speaks that it is not.

"$640K for projects". Projects? More dots, Octagon experiments, pretty stars, plastic flowers perhaps?
"Among the big decisions made by councillors was supporting a transport package" - so more money for speed bumps then, seems the council has the money for them yet none for the potholes on the roads around the city. So $880 million yet a scant $2 million is being spent on housing and the ratepayer is still expected to subsidise it.
"Cr Jim O’Malley said the council was required to deliver wellbeing results and it did not want its infrastructure to decay" - yeah, too late for that buddy.

This is not the worst council.
That singular honour belongs to the clowns who built the stadium!
A white elephant that has thrown city finances into turmoil for years to come.
The city has seen population growth of +11,000 since 2013. That's a lot of additional pressure on infrastructure. Responding to, and managing that, is a priority this council at least recognises.

Lots of negative comments, a lot seam to be from the same old Vandervis cheerleaders who offer nothing other than disagreement.
If they wanted something done in the council they should back someone who can implement instead of holding Vandervis up when he dose less than nothing.

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