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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.