Savings but grants of $160,000 given

Savings of about $790,000 were supported yesterday, as the Dunedin City Council gave with one hand and took with the other.

The annual plan hearings committee was generous with grants to community groups, many of which the committee heard were undertaking extensive voluntary work to improve the city. At the end of discussion on grants the cost stood at $160,000.

But the committee was less keen to allow changes to a list of savings that stood at $794,000 for the next financial year at the start of the meeting, or $7.1 million over 10 years.

Those savings were found after a February decision called on staff to work with acting chief executive Athol Stephens to find savings for this year's annual plan, as long as there was minimal impact on service levels.

Cr Teresa Stevenson suggested dropping four of the suggested savings, relating to events funding, walking track brochures, and a physical activity project, but the meeting heard the initiatives had been taken over by other organisations, or budgets were no longer needed.

Cr Jinty MacTavish called for a $4000 cut from a grant for significant trees to be dropped, and her suggestion was backed by other councillors.

Cr Vandervis described the savings as "Clayton's savings", but was told by Cr Syd Brown departmental reviews still to come would make far deeper investigations into what could be cut from budgets during the next financial year.

The largest saving for the next year was from water and waste services.

That included savings from using in-house provision of mechanical and electrical services, rationalising chemical buying with joint purchases, and from reducing water pressure where it was higher than necessary.

City environment general manager Tony Avery told the committee those changes were not expected to have a significant impact on services.


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