Time to talk about council spending ratepayers’ $1.5b

Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
It is time for Dunedin residents to have a conversation about the city’s 10 year plan, writes Dunedin mayor Aaron Hawkins.

The Dunedin City Council has just released its draft 10 Year Plan, ‘To tatou eke whakamuri - The future of us’, outlining our vision for the city over the next decade.

Dunedin mayor Aaron Hawkins
Dunedin mayor Aaron Hawkins. Photo: supplied

We’re at a critical stage in the city’s development. Our population is growing, so we have to think differently about how we plan for housing and invest in a transport network that works for our people and our planet.

At the same time, we have ageing infrastructure which needs to be replaced, which means we’re catching up with the past and planning for the future at the same time.

We plan to spend $1.5 billion over the next 10 years on renewing pipes and roads, upgrading pools and playgrounds, and planning for growth.

Nearly two-thirds of this capital work is focused on renewals, because we know that’s a priority for our community.

At the same time, we’re introducing a more modern kerbside collection system, diverting as much waste from landfill as we can, and doing our bit to ensure just transition to a safer climate future.

There are new things, too, such as a library in South Dunedin and a swimming pool in Mosgiel - projects that have been long anticipated by those respective communities.

In the case of the library it’s been on the agenda almost as long as I’ve been alive.

As well as improving what we already have, we need to support the continued growth the city is experiencing.

We’re proposing to build more community housing units in response to growing demand and invest in a safer transport network that creates greater travel choice, better traffic flow and more efficient use of existing resources like parking.

The transport projects are designed to improve the way people get around the city both during and after the construction of the new Dunedin Hospital.

There are many competing demands and, of course, all of this comes at a cost, which is why we’re proposing rates rises and increased borrowing.

To do everything that’s planned over the next decade, we have proposed an overall rates rise of 9.8% for the first year of the plan and an average annual rates rise of 5.7% over the following nine years.

We’re conscious of the impact proposed rates rises will have, on low and fixed income earners especially. We also know that a lot of the work is overdue, and inaction now will only cost us more in the long run.

One way to ease the rates burden now, is to take on more debt. Currently we have debt of $257 million. We’re proposing to increase this debt to $880 million by the end of the 10 year plan (2031) to do all the things we need to do.

This sounds like a big number - and it is.

However, spending to maintain and renew the city’s assets is a big priority and we need debt to help us do this. Borrowing means today’s ratepayers don’t pay the full cost of projects now - the costs are spread out over several generations who get the benefit over the lifetime of the assets.

A booklet highlighting the key points of the draft 10 Year Plan should have arrived at your place by now. It’s also available from libraries and DCC service centres, and online at www.thefutureofus.nz.

Councillors and staff will also be at a range of events and activities over the next month to answer your questions and hear your thoughts.

I hope you will join the conversation, let us know what is important to you and help shape the future of this great small city.

 

Dunedin mayor Aaron Hawkins
Dunedin mayor Aaron Hawkins. Photo: supplied

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