Settlement not ruled out

The Dunedin City Council's bill from the State Highway 88 dispute has jumped by almost $89,000, and the council is refusing to rule out adding a settlement with Cr Doug Hall to the bill.

Council staff yesterday confirmed the cost to ratepayers from the long-running dispute now stood at $658,696, up from the previous figure of about $570,000.

The increase had been swelled by the mounting cost of temporary traffic management measures still in place at the site, as well as other legal and planning costs, although a detailed breakdown was not available yesterday.

The update came after city councillor and businessman Doug Hall, who has been fighting the council over the SH88 realignment, confirmed he wanted his legal costs - totalling more than $1 million - reimbursed by the council.

Council chief executive Dr Sue Bidrose, speaking to the Otago Daily Times yesterday, would not be drawn on the likelihood of a settlement.

However, she appeared reluctant to rule it out either, saying only: ''Until I know what it is he's claiming for, I can't comment on what action we might take.

''No-one ever wants to spend money on lawyers.''

It also appears Cr Hall might escape a code of conduct complaint from his councillor colleagues, despite criticising the actions of some council staff involved in the drawn-out SH88 saga as ''bloody disgusting''.

The council's code of conduct requires councillors to ''avoid publicly criticising any employee in a manner that reflects on the competence and integrity of the employee''.

Cr Andrew Noone, the city's acting deputy mayor in the absence of Mayor Dave Cull and deputy mayor Chris Staynes, said he was yet to hear from any councillor wanting to lodge a complaint.

''If any individual councillor wants to lay a complaint, that's entirely up to them.

''Put it this way - I'm personally not lodging a complaint.''

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