Unspent $1m may fund one-off projects

Dunedin City councillors weigh up their options at yesterday’s annual plan deliberations. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Dunedin City councillors weigh up their options at yesterday’s annual plan deliberations. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Dipping into savings made this year has given Dunedin's councillors ‘‘wriggle room'' to increase spending without affecting rates.

Council group chief financial officer Grant McKenzie said the $1 million allocated in last year's annual plan towards installing lights at University Oval could be spent on one-off projects in the 2016-17 year, after the project was dropped.

This meant council funding for a new hockey turf at King's High School, a new University Oval scoreboard, the Dunedin Heritage Fund and the purchase of property next to the Gas Works Museum need not result in rates increases.

‘‘There could still be some more wriggle room there,'' Mr McKenzie said in response to questioning from Cr Hilary Calvert.

He recommended councillors use this ‘‘wriggle room'' only to fund one-off projects, which did not add to ongoing operational expenses.

Other items included in the annual plan that could be funded from this year's underspend included the one-off sum of $250,000 for GigCity funding and on-off funding for food resilience.

He would not want councillors to use ‘‘all of'' the $1 million cricket lights underspend.

Mayor Dave Cull said having access to the funds was welcome and would allow the council to fund items the community indicated it wanted.

During feedback, submitters were positive about all areas of additional spending consulted on, Mr Cull said.

He remained committed to keeping rates rises within the council's self-imposed 3% limit and it appeared having access to the $1 million would make that aim easier.

This comes after it was signalled that $700,000 worth of extra costs discovered by council staff would make it tougher for the council to stick within the 3% limit.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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