Stress puts DCC budget in question

Aaron Hawkins. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Aaron Hawkins. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Rates rises, increased borrowing or putting projects on hold are possibilities for the Dunedin City Council as it grapples with financial stresses from flow-on income reductions caused by Covid-19.

The council is asking for feedback from residents about what to prioritise, as plans and budgets for the next decade are decided.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said the council was facing big challenges and making plans was difficult due to the level of uncertainty.

"Not only are we dealing with the longer-term impact of Covid-19, we have challenges around things like responding to climate change and the planned water reforms.

It was difficult to balance council’s income with what the community wanted, "and that’s before we think about new projects and initiatives such as possibly introducing an improved kerbside rubbish and recycling service".

"We think we need to keep doing what were doing investing in our city while still planning for Dunedin to grow. If we continue to invest, we’ll be improving the city and helping its economic recovery through spending and jobs."

Pressure on council budgets was largely because the council needed to fix or replace assets wearing out, like water and wastewater pipes and council buildings.

"We will need to decide whether to increase rates further, put up fees and charges, borrow more, cut costs or delay or not do some projects. We may have to do a combination of these things."

Feedback could be given on the council website before it closed on October 30.

Formal consultation on the draft 10-year plan was likely to take place in March or April next year.



Well I'm glad you asked Mr Mayor. I would like a complete reform of how the council works. We need an efficient, slimline and more agile council that is able to adapt and respond quickly in this rapidly changing world. Priority has to be given to essential services and infrastructure. It needs to stop funding peoples hobbies and interests. Stop pretending it is some sort of major social, cultural and economic development organisation. It also needs to get out of the world of business and property investment. We need about half the amount of council staff of which most could work from home. We no longer need to be paying for so many councillors and community reps. Instead local media and the internet can inform and let the ratepayer vote on crucial matters. We need to think ahead, embrace technology and stop trying to make Dunedin some sort of Victorian dream town with huge public institutes, polluting trains and buses where everyone heads off on mass to work in the city every morning and play sport or take in culture at the weekend.
Or maybe we just need a new Mayor!

Less spending on social engineering and pet projects please Mr Mayor. I implore Lee Vandervis is to put his support behind Jules R this next election. Together both would roll the current socialist leadership.

TheFizz- IMO you got who should support who the wrong way round. Vandervis is the far more experienced Councillor and, as unpredictably and pointlessly annoying as he can be, I can’t imagine anyone else being able to dig Dunedin out of the financial mire.

Twenty years ago, the DCC was in good financial shape. Since then, successive councils have bled it white with financial mismanagement, excessive expenditure and borrowings on unnecessary projects and neglect of essentials. Anyone aware of massive sustainability issues and the uncertainties of climate change would have seen the need for contingency funding, something which would have been good to have with the both unexpected yet inevitable pandemic. But, for the last twenty years, the DCC has claimed to invest in a great, small city with bold plans, arguing that there was no alternative to prevent the city’s economic demise. However, the city reflects the global economy and no meddling by a city council can significantly change that. It’s going to require close to a miracle to turn this around now the chickens are coming home to roost. A rigorous awareness of JURISDICTION would help. City councils are for running a city efficiently and affordably - not saving the world.

Pop quiz. If your own finances are under strain, what is the responsible action?
A) Take out a new credit card to continue spending in the manner you like.
B) Review your budget to cut back on spending and live within your means.

One path is responsible the other is ruinous. It's not exactly rocket science, is it?

Yet the DCC has been going with option 'A' for years. It is even more contemptible when you realise the accumulating debt is being left to our children to pay off.



Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter