Stadium funding

If DVML can’t find sponsors, it is hardly surprising. Who would want to sponsor a rugby stadium… when you can force residents and ratepayers to cough up through the soft-touch vacuous Dunedin City Council.

### ODT Online Fri, 11 Mar 2011
Cull says ‘yes’ to funding
By David Loughrey
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull has given his clearest indication yet he would support the council’s helping to finance $4.3 million of additional spending for the Forsyth Barr Stadium. A debate on stadium funding has been included in a non-public section of a council meeting, but Mr Cull has again fended off claims he has gone back on election promises.
Read more


### ODT Online Fri, 11 Mar 2011
More could be approached for funds
By David Loughrey
The pool of charitable trust funding available to the Forsyth Barr Stadium may not have been squeezed dry, but while one Dunedin city councillor would like to see further requests, another would prefer community groups did not find the pool empty.
Read more

Successful stadium funding applications
Community Trust of Otago: $7 million
New Zealand Community Trust: $605,000
The Southern Trust: $50,000
The Alexander McMillan Trust: $250,000

Unsuccessful applications
The Central Lakes Electric Fund
The New Zealand Lotteries Trust
The Perry Foundation
The Trusts Charitable Foundation
The Lion Foundation
Pub Charity
The Caversham Foundation
The Mainland Foundation
The ILT Foundation
The Bendigo Valley Sports and Charity
The St Kilda Community Sports Society
The Southern Victoria Charitable Trust


DCC Finance, Strategy and Development Committee
Monday 14 March, 1.00 PM

Fullwood Room, Level 3, Dunedin Centre

Agenda – FSD – 14/03/2011 (PDF, 47.3 KB, new window)

Report – FSD – 14/03/2011 (PDF, 1.3 MB, new window)
Stadium Precinct Executive Summary 13

Report – FSD – 14/03/2011 (PDF, 54.9 KB, new window)
Funding Applications for the Forsyth Barr Stadium

Other Reports

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under DVML, Economics, Politics, Project management, Site, Sport, Stadiums

213 responses to “Stadium funding

  1. peter

    Broken election promises is right. Cull and his team said they’d only spend what was ‘absolutely necessary’ to get the stadium opened. This was a ruse. Now they are intending to spend all of what is asked of them. Of course smaller trusts can’t afford to waste money on the stadium. Even Kate Wilson recognises this. I understand there were members of the Alexander Trust, which gave $250,000, who were very reluctant to give any money.
    Words like ‘transparency’ and ‘sustainability’, which Greater Dunedin cynically used, should mean something. The same goes for ‘heritage’. The big danger is people will now be completely turned off when they hear politicians using those words. Worthy projects that really are ‘sustainable’ will become piecemeal, with the continued spend-up on a debt munching stadium, and on a project like the Otago Settlers Museum, where they are spending $8.5m on a fancy glassed-in reception area, taking a lion’s share of ratepayer funding.
    The Cull Council is no better than the Chin Council that preceded it. ‘Soft touch and vacuous’ as stated in the intro is just about right.

  2. Phil

    Talk about insensitive timing. Maybe there’s another city not too far from here who’s residents might have a bit more of a need for a helping hand right now instead of this one and a football field. If it has to be spent within the region then it can go towards providing housing for displaced people. A very tacky and disrepectful tale. A couple of councillors might need some help to haul their feet out of their mouths today.

  3. Phil

    On the positive side, at least Mayor Cull has finally publically acknowledged why the items were missing in the first place. It was the only way that Malcolm could sell the project and its “GMP”. As we all knew. It’s not all good news for Dave though. Given his professional background (which was used by Council in approving the contract), he should have realised the implications of the deletions and what would happen if the mythical sponsorships never appeared. Can’t go using ignorance on this one.

  4. peter

    Trouble is he only ‘finally acknowledges’ publicly when it is too late – in his mind – to tactically do anything about it. Not a dicky bird from Cull and co about getting some of those wealthy big boys to pay for the exclusions. Why? Because he is not his own man and he lacks the courage to insist they do so.
    Increasingly, Cull looks like a man who worked out how he could become Mayor. Now he has to work out how to maintain any credibility, and remain Mayor, beyond one term.

  5. Russell Garbutt

    The plain truth is that these “excluded” items were purposely subtracted from the cost of building the wretched thing in an attempt to keep within the “not a penny more than $188m”. While it may have been “flagged”, it makes not a jot of difference to what we are facing.

    Did Farry and his self-elected CST lie to the Council? Did the previous Council not comprehend what they were being told? Were key members of the previous Council complicit in a plan to conceal? Were some members of the previous Council incompetent? Did the previous CEO of the DCC act appropriately? About time we heard the answers to these questions from our new Council.

    It is incumbent on Dave Cull and the rest of the Council to fully reveal ALL the truths surrounding what has turned out to be exactly what many have been flagging for years. No excuses about commercial sensitivities, no hiding between excuses about previous Council decisions.

    It is time for those responsible to be held accountable and it is more than time for this Council who were elected on the basis of what they said before people voted, to say clearly and firmly to this rapacious group of professional rugby players and their big business backers NO, thrice NO! Not a penny more.

  6. Stan

    What is your long-term goal here? What outcome to the stadium’s now inevitable construction would you LIKE to see? Humiliation of those responsible and a failure of the project so that your position is vindicated? I don’t know you or those that you rail against, I’m generally curious about what you want.

    For what it is worth, I find some of your other posts really interesting and worth reading.

  7. Russell Garbutt

    What I would like above all is transparency and honesty – and I leave it up to others to assess whether either of these outcomes are possible from some of the people involved.

    I have some knowledge of how the project came about through the various “working parties” and silent agreements between those that were crucial to the various decisions regarding funding. I have direct knowledge of the “nudge nudge wink wink” assurances that private debt would be wiped off by the Council. I have, among others, knowlege of whom financially benefitted by the project and the links they had into the various decision making processes. I bet you do as well.

    I, and many others, have seen the various positions adopted by present and past Councillors and have a pretty good idea of how a number of crucial votes were obtained. I bet you could fairly accurately identify those within either of the Councils that were unable to make really good governance calls. Who went along for the ride and who was driving the bus?

    So, what I would LIKE – no LOVE – to see would be a detailed encapsulation of how this thing came about which will be part of the public record. I think a lot of people have little pieces of the puzzle, and together they can ensure that this record can be written so that the various people – some of whom I think you could also identify – don’t have a chance to rewrite history in their favour. Those that have acted in their own interests and have either withheld information or engaged in deceit, should be identified and held accountable.

    In terms of the actual construction, there is no doubt that it is there, but that doesn’t mean to say that it should necessarily be used. Until the real figures are revealed, none of us can make an accurate judgement call on whether the costs of running the thing are within or beyond the city’s capability to pay for it. I am willing to bet that the new Council are still working on the usual over-optimistic revenue targets and we will soon see a list of various excuses why these targets are not able to be met. The very construction of the entities that make up the project – CST, DVL, DVML, DCHL, DCC, ORC are designed to obscure transparency and truth.

    I am definite about one thing however, and that the city’s ratepayers should not pay another red cent to all of these “exclusions”. Those were known about from the beginning and it is more than time that the people and groups that “need” them should start coughing up some real money. Up to now, they haven’t.

    Thanks for the comments on some of my posts – I am proud of my Earthquake stuff – even more so after talking to some professionals in the field. No problem in disagreement either – listening or reading to all views is a learning process.

  8. Anne Ellliot

    Well, I can tell you what I, as a ratepayer, want: I want accountability and transparency. There is no going forward until the reasonable questions Russell Garbutt has raised are answered. I would like to hear from councillors, new and old, how they see the dilemma now facing the council and why they would vote one way or the other.

  9. ro

    This morning I wrote to many of the councillors imploring them to defer approving this request at this time. I have had several responses and none of them represents mindless support for proceeding. Cr Thomson advanced the argument that motivates Dave Cull: namely that getting the stadium to a state where it can return something towards its cost can only benefit the ratepayer. To this I have replied that because the maintenance & operation of the stadium is to be met by the capital fund of $6m; and the expected net revenue of the stadium is expected to average only $0.3m (which is scarcely enough to pay interest on the additional $4m); nothing is gained by shelling out at this moment to complete the stadium.

    There are alternatives to meeting DVML’s request right now and that meeting it at a time of national emergency is beyond the expectations of all but the most selfish sporting fan. Please contact the councillors and reinforce this view.

  10. peter

    Ro says, “This morning I wrote to many of the councillors imploring them to defer approving this request at this time. I have had several responses and none of them represents mindless support for proceeding.” Do you really believe them?

  11. ro

    Those whose support is mindless needn’t respond. Why should they? Those whose support is not yet given may well respond with their current thoughts and be open to reason. And so yes, I believe them and will continue to reason with them. It’s really a matter of respect, I think, respect for the various shades of opinion that operate in a democracy.

    Your cynicism, Peter, may well be prescient but since some councillors don’t yet know which way they will vote on Monday, because their vote really will depend on the cogency of the arguments for and against, it is more likely to be only prejudice. Either way it’s wasted energy.

    And the severity of Japan’s earthquake & tsunami is going to make our own pale – the international resources that have succoured us will be needed elsewhere and we will be called on to help. Our council should be encouraged to see deferring acceding to DVML’s request at this time as the only prudent option.

  12. peter

    ‘Deferring’? Why just that? How about actually voting against the exclusions being paid for by the ratepayers? THAT is wasted money, not alone energy, in any one’s mind, surely.
    If they don’t know which way they will vote – given all that has preceded them with the obvious lies that have been told for years to massage the stadium along – they are, at best, clueless. I think you are being jollied along, Ro, by whomever you have been writing to.

  13. JimmyJones

    ro, some councillors seem quite capable of reasoned decisionmaking. The trouble is that there are not enough of this type, and also because they are on average quite ignorant of what’s going on. On one occasion I remember a show of hands to indicate how many had read a report, and there was only one councillor who had. They don’t seem to understand some very basic financial information about the stadium. In particular that for the first 20 years their stadium will consume $15m to $20m of ratepayer money each year. After 20 years the operating losses will continue indefinitely. They have been lied to by the previous CEO (and remain deluded even now). Most of them have believed that the new stadium would make a small profit (“$0.3m”) and, the average ratepayer would only pay $66/yr. These are blatant lies. The smartest ones will know by now that they have been lied to because they will have looked at section 6.4 of DVL’s new Statement Of Intent (Council 28/2/11) which reveals the official forecast net operating loss (aka net profit after tax).
    I agree that it is useful to talk to them; this can help counter the misinformation that they get from council staff. I am hopeful that our councillors will try to be better informed going forward.

  14. peter

    The trouble is that even some of those with a modicum of intelligence are the same ones who continue to vote for the ongoing financial farce that is the stadium. All of them have had years to become informed and to gain at least some insight. There is no excuse to plead ignorance.I think the problem is more one of courage-or the lack of it- to say ‘no’. Intelligence does not seem to be a key factor.
    Two weeks ago I actually heard Cull and Brown (and read in the ODT)say the rate payers could not be expected to foot the $5m bill. Even Farry said the same. What do they immediately do? Except for Crs Vandervis, Stevenson and Butcher they indicate very strongly in a vote that they are prepared to spend more rate payer money beyond the so called GMP. They are either very confused or being less than honest. This game of providing reassurance, and subsequently doing the opposite, is wearing thin.It actually further destroys the credibility of those key people involved and makes their job more difficult-or would do so if people were not so gullible and believed their reassurances. The net effect is that cynicism and anger grows. Unfortunately for most people this is turned inward,they give up, and the perpetrators march on. That is the Kiwi way-roll over and have a beer.

  15. Stan

    Thanks for explaining your position so clearly Russell. Now you must excuse me – world events are a little distracting at the moment.

  16. Russell Garbutt

    Stan, they sure are.

    I cannot begin to comprehend how incredibly tragic if must have been to have been subjected to a quake of that magnitude and then find the sea rushing over you in a 10m high wall of inexorably moving water, debris and mud. Much palls into insignificance at times like this.

  17. ro

    JimmyJones, I can’t find the document you refer to – DVM’s statement of intent. Has Eliz posted it here? The only relevant doco I found for that date was CST’s annual report for June 2010. Can you please direct me to it?

  18. Anne Elliot

    Why is the Executive Summary 13 dated 14 March 2011 marked CONFIDENTIAL and then posted for us all to see?

  19. James

    The smartest ones will know by now that they have been lied to because they will have looked at section 6.4 of DVL’s new Statement Of Intent (Council 28/2/11) which reveals the official forecast net operating loss

    Actually, Jimmy, I don’t think that it does. In fact, if you believe there are lies, then the SOI (link for ro) continues to perpetrate them. The net operating loss is $7.6-$8.3m for the three years forecast. The $66 a year produces $5m + $2m in tax savings, leaving the ratepayer short only between $600k and $1.3m per annum. Or do you think that that operating loss is following that transaction?

  20. Calvin Oaten

    James, isn’t the $66 per year producing $5m supposed to go into the DCC’s general account in order to offset the reduction in DCHL’s dividend, due to this being diverted to paying down the stadium debt? I don’t think it was intended to supplement DVML’s losses. But then who knows where these monies go?

  21. Calvin Oaten

    Further to my previous posting, if we look at page 29 of the 2009/10 DAP we see resolution 5 section (d) that “the ratepayers’ contribution will cover the $5 million shortfall in DCHL dividends for the duration of the 20 year loan period to pay off the stadium loan”.
    Moving on to page 31 in the section “Who will own the stadium”, read: “The council believes that the management of the stadium by a Council Controlled Trading Organisation (CCTO) in a business like manner will better ensure its commercial success, at the same time ensuring that the benefits of public ownership are retained. This will remove the debt servicing costs from being a direct charge on ratepayers, but will have the effect of reducing the dividends from the companies. This shortfall in the council’s income is made up by the additional general rates.
    The ratepayers’ contribution will cover the $5 million shortfall in dividends from Council-owned companies over the 20 years it will take to pay off the stadium loan.”

    As we now know James, in DVML’s SOI, [DVML] does not see any profits in the medium future. So this makes the claim ‘the debt servicing costs won’t be a direct charge on ratepayers’ a somewhat hollow assertion. But then when has the truth ever been manifest in this whole sorry saga?

  22. Kiwifly

    yawn @Calvin Oaten =who cares what you think Calvin, even the mods on here think you have become irrelevant. So much so they banned you for a week or so.

  23. JimmyJones

    Calvin. “a somewhat hollow assertion” is a very polite way of putting it. The document I was referring to is called “Statement of Intent – DVML and DVL” and I am talking about DVL (who will own the stadium). DVL’s net profit forecasts are on the second last page (line #6.4.2 in the table). The net profit after tax over the next three years is a loss of about $8 million each year.

    The famous average ratepayer payment of $66/yr adds up to exactly $5m/yr. What exactly this is meant to pay for is hardly ever described, but this is for funding the construction, as in paying off the debt (20 year loan). Nowhere does anything say that this pays for ALL the debt payments, nor is there any claim that it funds the perpetual operating losses. The $5m/yr is for debt held by the DCC (parent entity) and is completely separate to the $8m/yr operating loss of DVL. Ratepayers pay both; but not just $5m + $8m = $13m, because annual payments for the construction debt is $10m (not $5m), and it seems probable that the $8m/yr DVL loss is quite optimistic. There will be a tax credit of $8m x 30% = $2.4m/yr. Also because of its need to service its internal debt, DVL will be $3m/yr short of cash in addition to its $8m/yr operating loss.

    I figure that the annual ratepayer impact will be –
    – DVL net loss: $8m
    – Cash for DVL debt: $3m
    – Debt servicing 20yr loan: $10m
    – Tax efficiency: -$2m

    Total ratepayer cost = $19m/yr
    Total average ratepayer cost = $251

    So James, yes: the DVL yearly debt is additional to the cost of servicing the 20 year loan. Because of Dave Cull’s cone-of-silence policy some of these figures could be out of date.

  24. Calvin Oaten

    Jimmy Jones, you are absolutely right. But the DVL loss projections makes a mockery of Athol Stephens’ assertion that the DVML surpluses would transfer to DVL to service the interest on the stadium debt. Guess who will pay it now? If you care to look at the new Draft Annual Plan you will see that while we are in breach of the interest/rates parameter there is provision to capitalise some $34m of interest. What would the breach be without that?

  25. Robert Hamlin

    The conversation here is an interesting one, but in the end we can’t really get anywhere without good quality information – and that, short of the forcible windup of the DCC and the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry with full powers of discovery, appropriate terms of reference and the motivation to meet them simply will not occur.

    The problem is that the DCC (the beauracratic entity) is pretty much able to do as it pleases, and the Council and the Mayor have neither (individually) the powers to require that the CEO of this unelected body furnish specific and appropriate information to it, nor (collectively) the powers to get rid of him if he will not do so. The same goes for access to individual officers. No commercial Board would tolerate such a situation – but that is what the LGA 2002 has left us with.

    A determined Mayor backed by a strong group in Council could compel a CEO to supply them with specific documents, and could require individual officers to appear before them by using specifc motions in Council, but first they have to establish either what these key documents are, or what specific question they wish to present to individual employees. A motivated and evasive CEO could make the whole process of discovery a crawlingly slow and eventually frustrating one.

    A similalry motivated and evasive CEO can use information against the Council in an entirely different manner. As the DCC employs 600+ people, as well as an army of ‘consultants’ (eg. the CSCT). It can therefore generate an enormous amount of information. Once again a motivated and evasive CEO can orchestrate this cascade of information, so that the 15 or so part-time recipients start to drown in it. Most of it is of course worthless, but venemous little payloads can be inserted into the cascade of pap so that they may be inadvertantly approved by their exhausted, confused and demoralised targets.

    If any Councillor chooses to fight, well then they are faced with a CEO who has all the ‘facts’, and a dedicated staff to acquire more if necessary. On the other hand, the Councillor is entirely unsupported, and knows only what the CEO chooses to let them know. This allows the CEO to wrong-foot them in any debate by ‘revealing’ further ‘truths’ – which juicily may have been ‘revealed’ to the Councillor concerned on page 456 of the third appendix of the grey paper on the matter given to them in a wheelbarrow three months ago. This can then be used to discredit them. “If only my worthy Councillor had been doing his job properly on behalf of the ratepayers that he represents, then he would already be aware of these matters,” the worthy eminence-grise would intone.

    Life would be hard enough for a conscientious Councillor anyway, but the widespread use of gray papers makes their task truly impossible. The secrecy required by these documents means that Councillors not only have no staff support when assessing their voluminous contents, but have no avenue for acquiring it beyond the very CEO who provided it in the first place.

    So there it is. Maybe the Council has failed us, but it pays to consider the circumstances under which they work. At present the DCC (as opposed to the Council) is totally out of control, and only the election of a block of councillors who are solely dedicated to the task of bringing it back under the control of our elected representatives will succeed in that task. The fate of the elected members Environment Canterbury suggests that even then they may not succeed if the interests arrayed against them are strong enough.

    Looking to the future, however, the Stadium is pretty much a ‘done deal’. There are more important matters upcoming. There is no slowdown in DCC spending. The endless movement of assets and money within the large numbers of entitities becomes ever more baffling. The latest edition of ‘City Talk’ also contains an ominous policy effusion from Athol Stephens:

    “The Council resolutions further suggest that the time may be coming when the next big steps in the efficiency drive may call for a rethink of the way we deliver the service or services. The status quo and the contraints of the Local Government Act may push local authorities into different delivery structures, perhaps alone, or more likely, on a shared basis.”

    This masterpiece of ‘paptalk’ , in which nothing is either clear or clearly stated, can be taken in a number of ways. I personally take it as a statement of intent to continue to work towards the separation (different delivery structure) and privatisation (sharing) of this City’s water supply.

    It may dismay some to be informed that the Rodney Hide Act pretty much allows this to happen immediately if the correct procedures are followed. It will be justified by an entirely avoidable financial crisis within which the Stadium plays a significant but not overwhelming role.

    The Council is legally responsible for the decisions that will have led to this crisis, but a look back through the records will clearly show that the DCC and its adjuncts (eg. CSCT) are the source of both the ideas and the voluminous information that informed these decisions.

    This will be the next issue to be fought out within this City.

  26. JimmyJones

    Calvin, the term “DVML surpluses” is intentionally misleading. DVML is a rent collector; they collect the gate takings and product sales, then take their cut (about $2.5m) and then hand over what’s left to DVL (about $3.6m, DVL SOI line #6.4.1). DVML will have no surpluses. This is like saying paying your rent is a surplus (not a cost).
    I haven’t looked at the new Draft Annual Plan, but the $34m provision is interesting. Also the DCC intends to provide to DVL a 10 year “bridging loan” of $29m (perhaps more), but with an atrocious $8m loss every year, there will not be enough to pay off the loan (loan interest + principle: about $4m/yr). This is a non-viable loan. Rather than paying DVL money so that they can pay back a debt that they owe us, the debt will become a donation (forgiven). But the money was still borrowed and will therefore require direct ratepayer funding, instead of indirect funding. This doesn’t change my ratepayer impact calculation of $19 million/yr.

  27. Calvin Oaten

    Rob; what an appallingly excellent summation of the state of affairs in our fair city. It has been a long time in gestation but thanks to the overly long tenure of Jim Harland seems pretty much irreversible. As you say, our elected council have neither the ability nor the power to wrest back control from an administration which is in full flight of self-styled entitlement. No bureaucrat on this planet has ever willingly relinquished power, and our disheveled bunch of incompetents hold all the trump cards. We seem destined to move down the slippery slope of debt until a day of reckoning, perhaps prompted by a drop in credit rating and a subsequent interest rate spike which would throw us into default mode. But not before whatever assets with commercial value (water, waste water) are flogged off and the ratepayers’ pockets emptied.

  28. peter

    The good news is that the incompetents responsible for this mess will lead miserable lives until they are driven out by their own incompetency – or are forced to run for cover, desperately applying for new jobs. (It amazes me how they get new jobs.)
    I remember years ago there were a few health individuals here in Dunedin – already forgotten their names – who tried reforms of the ODHB along the lines of ‘users pays’ when that philosophy was at its most ideological. The reforms were hopelessly administered and caused all manner of problems. (Sorry, exact details are now fuzzy.) Anyhow, they moved to Australia – Western Australia from memory – and employed the same failed policies at their major hospital in Perth. The locals were so incensed at the destruction they were reeking that they overturned their cars and set them on fire in the staff parking lot! Moral of the story? Scoundrels often meet their just desserts in the end.

  29. JimmyJones

    The spirits of Jim Harland and Peter Chin can be felt lurking about city hall. In considering this mess created by our DCC councillors, I am reminded of this movie quote They only see what they want to see… They don’t know they’re dead. In this case they don’t know they’re ignorant, deluded and gullible. Some of them are worse than others but they all need help to get a grip on their excessive and unnatural spending habits. Also, it could be a painful step, for some of them, to learn that their most trusted sources of information have been lying to them. They spend exuberantly because they don’t understand the consequences.
    I am more hopeful than Rob that things can change. With the help of the Law and a councillor education campaign, a turnaround might be possible; we might avoid the financial “train-wreck” predicted by Cr Thomson.

  30. peter

    But what exactly is Cr Thomson actually doing to try to forestall the worst excesses of the oncoming ‘train wreck’? What is he voting for, and against, to prevent the worst financial consequences facing us, while accepting some of the carriages will be falling off as it’s too late? Talk is cheap.
    The myriad of official information requests that have been made will build a paper trail of what has been happening and eventually those at a higher level will have to act especially when things really go belly up.
    Both Labour and National have made a real hash of local government ‘reform’ in the last ten years and yet just stand by and do nothing. ACT leader, and Local Government Minister, Rodney Hide, comes across as totally out of his depth. I’ve heard that he does know what has been going on in Dunedin, but has remained silent.

  31. Calvin Oaten

    Jimmy Jones; DVL when it takes over ownership on construction completion, is to assume debt of $139.109 million. This, I presume consists of the $108m (DCC figure so far) plus the PF target of $45m less the government’s $15m. Seems about right.
    But as it now seems the Council has approved the additional $4.8m (see page 98 of DAP, capital expenditure. 2011/12 Forsyth Barr Stadium $4.8m) to total loaded on DVL will likely be $144m.
    As you say, DVML was never going to show a surplus as all monies over and above operating expenses is to go straight to DVL for debt servicing. As we can see, $144m at say 7% will require $10m plus per annum at the outset. Huh? What chance of DVML generating that?

  32. JimmyJones

    Yes Calvin, that’s my point. DVML will pass on about $4m each year to DVL (see DVML SOI table #6.4.1). As far as I can tell DVL has no other income. DVL has expenses of about $12m/yr (DVL SOI table #6.4.1) and so makes a net loss of about $8m/yr (DVL SOI table #6.4.2). DVL is meant to pay off its internal loan of $29m over 10 years; but the main loan of $108m (or more) is given to them interest free. So the scumbags get the free perpetual loan, and we pay the $10m/yr interest and principle on it for the next 20 years.
    DVL’s expenses haven’t been disclosed, but my guess is that maintenance/running costs ($6m/yr), depreciation ($4m), interest on internal loan ($1m).
    My DAP has different page numbers, can you tell me the title of the bit you are looking at, please.

  33. DVML is responsible for the Town Hall/Dunedin Centre as well as the Stadium so presumably the SOI surplus (~$3 million per year) includes both. But DVL only relates to the Stadium. So where does the Town Hall/Dunedin Centre debt and debt-servicing lie?

  34. JimmyJones

    Alistair, DVML is not yet responsible for the Town Hall/Dunedin Centre. They have stated an intention for DVML to manage the events and for DVL to own it (same as the Chin Stadium). They have said that the Edgar Centre will be included also. The current financial forecasts (Statement Of Intents) assume the ownership of the stadium only.
    The Mayor’s current public relations policy is to minimize DVL’s public profile and emphasize DVML’s profile. The purpose of this is to hide DVL’s large annual consumption of ratepayer money (over $8m/yr) by focusing on DVML’s profit which will be manipulated to be $0·00 each year. One reason the Town Hall & Dunedin Centre & Edgar Centre might remain separate is because they are all financial basket-cases. Putting them all together would create a very hard to hide financial disaster zone. I think that anything said by DVL & DVML, especially about their intentions, should not be believed.
    The stadium team will hate any publicity which highlights the fact that DVL exists and is a separate company to DVML; and they will hate publicity about DVL’s official forecast operating loss being $8 million every year. I doubt that news of DVL’s big losses will reach the front-page of the ODT, and even if it did, they would forget to tell us that the stadium debt payments are even bigger.

  35. Calvin Oaten

    Jimmy, If you have the preliminary DAP try page 108.

  36. Calvin Oaten

    Jimmy, the $108m as I understand it is to be paid off by DCHL at the rate of $5m per year. Originally, it was to be for 20 years. But with the interest accumulating and DVL’s inability to meet that, my guess is that in order to fool the ratepayers, they will simply capitalise the interest and then take as long as it needs to pay off. I suspect it will become what Richard Walls euphemistically terms “intergenerational debt”. Let’s face it, they are already capitalising interest to the tune of $34m between 2010/11 and 2013/14, so it is an accepted deception.

  37. Calvin Oaten

    Alistair; I think you will find that the Town Hall / Dunedin Centre debt lies firmly in the DCC’s $275.756m as at 2013/14 and we the poor mug ratepayers will be servicing it for as long as it takes. It is interesting to note that as a conference centre its best performance projections still show an annual net loss exceeding $4.2m. So how does that make you feel? Better or worse?

  38. Anne Elliot

    I was at today’s council meeting. A number of questions were raised during the tabling of the “confidential report”. Questions were attempted and some answers given. I am not sure all councillors were au fait with what was in the (huge, I understand) building contract signed, what was excluded and why. This would seem important for any fair decision to be made on further funding requests.

    One thing stood out: Some councillors (Stevenson) questioned how much progress had been made to “find” the $20m outside (non-rates) funding that was needed for the stadium to go ahead. It seems that not all the funds mentioned in Athol Stephens report go towards those $20m as $605,000 from The New Zealand Community Trust and $50,000 from The Southern Trust will be spent on the additional expense of installing a Desso Grassmaster. Although it was argued that this would enable more use of the stadium by “grassroots rugby”, it is an afterthought, as mentioned by Vandervis.

    Who decides how such funds can be spent?

    Like with the so-called private-sector funding (a misnomer, as actually revenue), how many times can external funding be counted?

  39. Phil

    You are exactly right, Anne. The toughened grass was always a “must have”. Every specialist consultant engaged by CST said the same thing. The risks of a fully natural grass turf surface were too high. But, it cost more than what the stadium cost was promised to be at the time. So it was deleted by CST. Along with other essential items that ultimately would need to be fitted. Had they not deleted those items, the project would have officially been over budget, and never would have been built. The official word out of CST at the time was that a turf system would be included only if there was any money left over at the end. Where it all fell apart is that any extra money that was found, be it through the so called “private funding” or through construction cost savings, was not used to reduce the level of debt, but was immediately deployed to pay for those deliberately excluded items. So it has all been used to make up for the under-reported true cost for construction. The first we knew of this was mid way through construction where a cost saving in the GMP contract was reported and we were told by CST that the GMP savings would not be returned to Council (as was stated at the time the contract was signed) but would now be used to fund additional construction work. Presumably with the blessing of the Council of the day.

    Let’s not forget that the “private funding” also includes the multi million dollar grant given by central government. Which is, of course, public funding.

  40. JimmyJones

    I think that the proposed $20m funding to reduce the ratepayer burden has never been genuine. Most councillors should now realise that this was put forward as a carrot to try and persuade undecided councillors to vote to proceed with the new stadium. I think it worked. The way any extra money found has been spent, instead of reducing the ratepayer burden, shows what their priorities are.

  41. Anne Elliot

    The $20 mill carrot was proposed by Bezett. It definitely swayed the project towards a go ahead.

  42. Anne Elliot

    I didn’t stay to find out. A full contingent of tanned, middle-aged+ men in suits were at the ready for what I understood to be a public-excluded advocacy session.

  43. ro

    Anne – I suggested on another thread that the supposed $2.7m donation that hit the news a couple of months ago was mostly grants from public charities and that most of the identifiable sums (NZCT’s $605k, Southern Trust’s $50k & Alexander McMillan’s $250,000) will have gone to pay for the turf reinforcement… Your point that the forgotten $20m from elsewhere should have been the beneficiary of all of these charities is well-made.

    So what was council’s decision?

  44. peter

    So much for transparency. Another broken promise from the election.
    Jimmy is right. The $20m was a ruse to keep the stadium moving along. Anyone with a brain, at the time, could see it.
    This will not be the last call for more money of course for other extras ‘needed’. The Greater Dunedin election promise to only fund those extras, that are needed to make the stadium operational, was bullshit – and they knew it at the time. I don’t see any selective picking of the lolly jar, do you? The stadium proponents are getting the whole bloody lot.

  45. JimmyJones

    Calvin, I see on the pre-draft annual plan (page 108) the $4.8m capital expenditure for the stadium. I don’t think this is extra spending (even though it is the same amount now being asked for). This looks like the last part of the construction. The financial year starts 30/6/2011 and Mr Farry says it will be finished 1/8/2011; a period of just one month. So this looks like the last month of construction. Actually, construction spending continues into the 2012/13 financial year ($0.5m), but you won’t see it on page 108 because Athol has a clever magic trick to make it disappear, along with all other stadium expenses after the stadium is sold to DVL.

  46. JimmyJones

    Extras for stadium approved
    Forsyth Barr Stadium extras with a combined cost of $5.15 million have been approved by the Dunedin City Council.

  47. peter

    Of course the ODT doesn’t report any of the alternative arguments against further funding, nor who voted for/against. However, not surprisingly, I have subsequently found out that the vote was the same as a week or so ago where they signalled extra funding. So all of so-called ‘Greater’ Dunedin, the Champions of Sustainability and Transparency, voted for rewarding the lies that were told to minimise the ultimate cost of the stadium. Cull himself acknowledges this in the ODT report. I am disgusted.
    Davies is wrong about the ‘exclusions’. The very word is used in the 2007 CST Feasibility Report to name those items not included in the final build cost for the stadium. The word exclusions has been dropped officially to ‘extras’ though Farry used the word ’embellishments’ there for a while, but that word has gone out of vogue, I guess, because it sounds too cute – and embarrassing to use.

  48. Phil

    Quite right. They were never extras or embellishments. They were always in the original design, and were only removed from the contract prior to signing on the direct instruction of the client. Not one other party to the design considered any of those items to be anything other than essential for the handing over of a functioning stadium. Not that Populous would know anything about building stadiums, mind. At least, not the “Southern Way”

  49. Calvin Oaten

    So, it is not $4.8m but $5.15m. The difference is mere bagatelle. But then there is the small matter of an additional $650,000 as noted. When DVML comes up with its ‘business case’ to justify, expect much serious ‘rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb’ and then approval.
    I see lower on the same ODT page that ‘Cull wants enhanced powers to deal with alcohol issue’. So that is the problem, they are all drunk. Seems a simple enough explanation.

  50. Phil Cole

    The whole stadium process is a classic example of why something that will be 99.9% used by ‘private’ organisations should be funded by private investors. The only thing the council could have helped with was providing the basic infrastructure in terms of services (utilities) to the site.

    As you know, I’m a member of ‘Sustainable Dunedin’ and although I have always hated the word ‘Sustainable’ – because it doesn’t actually define anything specific – it is, never-the-less, the best term we have got. Also, ‘Sustainable Dunedin’ is made up of people who have an interest in the environment – from both sides of the arguments – but who wish to find out more. It’s a bit like ‘Climate Change’ – a term that covers many opinions and subjects that may, or may not have anytihng to do with ‘Climate Change’!

    My point (Peter) is that if “Greater Dunedin’ were the ‘Champions of sustainability’ (a title that ‘if’ they used they had no merit to, even if Jinty was part of the ‘team’) then that was a false assumption to make. They could quite easily have been labelled the ‘Champions of Business’ with their line-up (only Jinty is the non-business person of the 5 elected members). You may, or may not, be aware that Jinty resigned from Sustainable Dunedin shortly after becoming a Councillor and she is no longer on our e-mails (to avoid any conflict of interests).

    As a bit of a strange twist I looked up the definition of the word “Sustainable” in the good old English dictionary. It states “sustainable” as being ‘capable of being sustained’ or ‘capable of being maintained at a steady level without exhausting natural resources or causing severe ecological damage’. So, in a cruel twist you could actually say that by voting the way they did yesterday, the ‘Greater Dunedin’ team were actually keeping to their ‘so-called’ Champions of sustainability’ tag…
    a sobering thought and not one that I would agree with.

    I can think of a lot more worthier causes where this extra money could have been spent. I’d love to have been there when Syd Brown suggested to Lee Vandervis that perhaps he should consider leaving the room…

    Anyway, Peter, I do speak from a position of higher moral ground – we are the holders of the ‘Ashes’ after all….just don’t mention Bangladesh…oh…and Ireland…:(

  51. JimmyJones

    Phil Cole, I would be surprised if you were disappointed with Greater Dunedin campaigning with an emphasis on Sustainability. You would have been very pleased that your representative gained a position on Council; an election victory for SDC. If you now have egg on your face from the actions of the people who wear your flag, then I think that you should lick it off quietly.
    I am pleased that Jinty has avoided the perception of a conflict of interest by resigning from your organisation. I think that rather than being the champion, you are a pawn of the United Nations; their political representative in Dunedin.

  52. Phil Cole

    Jimmy Jones,

    Ah…so you go round happily ‘painting’ everyone with the same brush because of one thing (just like you thought that the Cable Car Trust I am involved in was asking the council to fund the Cable Car when we had never asked for any money and we made this decision quite clear from day one – a bit like Syd Brown when, during our presentation to council we made it perfectly clear three times that we were not looking to the council for funding…and the first question he asked was ‘We (the council) can’t afford it’ !! People will believe what they want to.

    Just to set matters straight – not that I need to, but I hate people who pigeon-hole other people…

    I am proud to be a member of Sustainable Dunedin – although I am one of the more sceptical members and always have been. I am however open-minded, especially on a subject that has yet to be proven one way or another. I am one of the worlds worst ‘greenies’ – I hate gardening, am terrible at recycling (but at least try) and love air travel – but I respect other peoples views and I am always happy to keep an open mind on anything until something concrete comes along that proves something one way or another. Our membership reflects this approach.

    You would actually be very surprised who I voted for and didn’t vote for in the local elections as choosing candidates needs to be based on more than just one or two things they believe in – but that is a private decision and I don’t need to answer to you for this. And, yes, I’ve had to wipe egg off my face before – and will no doubt have to do so again – but not on this occasion. I am proven wrong as many times as I am proven correct – but I have no problems admitting to this – everyone is only human after all – aren’t they?

    Read the SDC rules if you want to – they are available on the website. The SDC is non-political (hence Jinty had to resign when elected) and not one cent was paid from our funds to her election campaign. We are actually trustworthy and genuine people on the SDC Committee, although you would probably disagree with this – assuming you know who is on the committee (before you look it up on the website…)

    No-one wears ‘my flag’ – you don’t even know anything about my political persuasions – interests etc or otherwise, so don’t just do what a number of people do and just assume something on the basis of one thing. If the world was that black and white then everyone who votes Labour is ‘left’ and everyone who votes National is ‘Right’…we may cast a vote for a certain party but we don’t agree with everything that party may do carte-blanche. I hope that you don’t agree with EVERY decision the non-stadium councillors make on matters that are not stadium related…

    I love your ‘pawn of the United Nations’! I must confess, I have a sister-in-law who is a translator for the United Nations…but as she is as anti-green and as big a climate sceptic as can be so, by connection, so must I! Oh…hang on…but this can’t be true, as this destroys your image of the United Nations…oh well, guess I’ll just have to live with it!

    And…if you are going to condemn someone on the basis that they didn’t agree with you on one particular matter then so be it. But don’t go round pigeon-holing someone because of it. I know Calvin and Peter are some of the biggest critics of the Stadium – but this doesn’t mean that I’m going to take it as ‘given’ that they are critical of everything the council does.

    …and whilst you are on the SDC website, take time to fill in a membership and join…

  53. Calvin Oaten

    Phil C., You are right, I am a serious critic of the stadium. As for other council activities, I am sure there are some things I would approve. Problem is I can’t just offhand think of anything.

  54. peter

    Hi Phil C
    First of all, I don’t question your sincerity and honesty one bit.
    Secondly, I applaud your work with the Cable Car Trust and your knowledge and advocacy of decent public transport in this town. This work you have done has more to do with real sustainability than anything else.
    What really upsets me is the usurping of words like ‘sustainability’ and ‘transparency’ by people who are ambitious for themselves and not the cause. The concepts are indeed valid and worthwhile. People may argue the toss about how these terms can be applied, but I think most people can acknowledge the opposite where these terms have clearly been given the boot in practical ways. That’s what really upsets me with some one like Jinty. Doesn’t she realise that the unsustainable use of money for an unsustainable project, by necessity, will preclude the advancement of small scale initiatives that collectively promote real ‘sustainability’? If, at the end of this term, she can only point to a couple of workshops/committees set up to look into these matters, plus a couple of community vege gardens on unused DCC land she, and people who voted for her, will be surely disappointed.
    It is probably a good job she is no longer connected to Sustainable Dunedin. Unfortunately, her name will still be linked to the organisation as a kind of front person- and with her votes on the stadium she has let SDC down and those who voted for her. I am extremely disappointed with her. She was young, enthusiastic and from what I could see seemed very sincere. We certainly needed some youth there. Her inexperience now seems to be showing through and letting her down. She is letting herself be used by GD, politically, which has always been a PR company creation than a real, grass roots political movement.
    I’m not sure how much longer SDC can maintain a non political stance as such. Advocacy of anything necessitates a political stance. The danger is falling into irrelevancy when a firm political stand on important issues is avoided.

  55. Phil Cole

    Calvin, I know what you mean…I can’t either!…:)

  56. Phil Cole


    Thanks for those (personal) comments and for those excellent other comments – I think you sum up perfectly the situation and most people’s thoughts on the matter; I couldn’t have put it better myself and agree with you.

    • Elizabeth

      With the further $650,000 (why stop there, DCC), the ballpark total as foretold earlier to councillors of an additional $6 million required has played out.

      Not one councillor of those in office now will get my vote in the next elections.
      As it turns out, very few of those got my 2010 vote anyhow.

  57. JimmyJones

    Phil Cole, I only pigeon-hole you as a representative of SDC. I should have been clearer that the “you” was meaning SDC.
    You say “The SDC is non-political (hence Jinty had to resign when elected) ~”: aren’t those two statements inconsistent? To me Sustainability is clearly political (and slightly religious). I know that Sustainability sees itself on a much higher plane than ordinary political parties, but the types of ideals, philosophy and policies make you no different to those of a political movement. This delusion of superiority to normal politics leads you people to try to bypass the normal democratic processes (influence without elections).
    While I don’t share the political ideals of SDC, I have no reason to doubt your claim to be trustworthy and genuine people (deluded but honest).
    You seem a little sensitive about the UN being the creators and rule-makers of Sustainability. The origins of Sustainability (and precursor agenda 21) are well covered by Wikipedia. Sustainability is a botch-up caused when the UN allowed various NGOs to have excessive influence on UN policy. These groups included unionists, greenies, feminists, anarchists and a variety of socialists/lefties. From these origins Sustainability remains a political frankenstein. When your council goes Sustainable you get a lot more than worm-farms and bicycles. Jinty is learning that Sustainability conflicts with sensible spending and common sense. Sustainability is often the opposite of financial sustainability.

  58. Phil Cole


    No, I don’t think the two statements are inconsistent – what would be your reaction if she was still a member of SDC? You would say we were a ‘political’ organisation, surely?

    To be perfectly honest, I don’t really care what the United Nations particularly says on any issue – I tend to treat what they say with a large pinch of salt. It seems to be the place where ex-political leaders go (a bit like Brussels – the European Commission) whilst awaiting retirement age…but I won’t ignore the disporoportinate influence they have over things and share your concerns.

    I take your point of why sustainability is connected to certain political persuasions and any initial image once formed will be impossible to dispel. However, one place to either reinforce one’s own argument or to actually find yourself wrong about something is to actively enter into the debate by testing ones arguments with people who have an opposite viewpoint from your own. I have always done this and will no doubt continue to do so, even if I may be ‘tarred’ with a particular brush.

    As Peter says, there are different apllications to what things are actually ‘sustainable’. No-one is ever going to be able to define the actual true meaning of the issue of ‘sustainability as it can be applied in several different ways (as your last three sentences indicate). Hence, sustainability has already become an irrelevance in lots of peoples eyes…

    I agree with you with the effect that NGO’s have on political thinking, not just in the UN but in all aspects of the poltical arena – we have it over here with the Road lobby group, just to mention one! If only councillors would get out there and actually ask what it is that concerns the actual people of Dunedin – and then act on their behalf on the most important ones!

    Anyway, Jimmy…maybe one day we’ll see each other in Utopia!

  59. JimmyJones

    Dave Cull is honest enough to say “items had been dropped from the guaranteed maximum price contract so it would fit within budget. “I think that was a fiction the council of the day accepted.” “ (ODT). He must realize that this blackmail by the stadium team has been carefully planned a few years ago. To know that he is a victim of this plan, and still hand over the money (our money), shows true dedication to enhancing ratepayer poverty and the general economic decline of our great city.

  60. JimmyJones

    Phil C, one day we might meet in in Utopia, but I suspect we will take different roads to get there. I agree that the views of our citizens are important. The problem with the DCC discovering those views is that the process is always corrupted by the fact that they only ask us after they have already decided what they are going to do. The process is only used to demonstrate compliance with the law.

  61. Jinty

    Kia ora all,

    I would urge those making assertions on this blog to check their facts before doing so. I voted against all additional spending on the Stadium yesterday, and asked that my vote be recorded after each separate motion, so there could be no misunderstanding. I’m not sure where or how peter got his information, but I can assure you, it is incorrect. I will not speak for other Council members, but I can also assure you he is wrong in his assumptions about at least one other councillor too.

    I have come down with a horrific head cold, so won’t go into more detail here, but if there are people out there who would like to hear more about how I voted and why, I would welcome emails {email address can be found at DCC website} I would similarly welcome emails about sustainability and how people believe I can contribute more successfully to the general cause.

    Nga mihi,


  62. peter

    Personally, I have given up on the idea of making submissions to the Draft Annual Plan and the like. As Jimmy says it’s just a process they have to go through legally – one which clearly irritated the likes of John Bezett and Richard Walls (and probably others who were more discrete not to show it).
    I’m not so sure that Cull is a ‘victim’ from what I can see. He is nakedly ambitious, politically, and will court the powerful to get their approval, which he craves. We’ll see a little softening as we get closer to the next election and he will trot out all the ‘feel good’ slogans through his PR company. He’ll be banking on widespread gullibility among the populace.

  63. Lindsay

    At least one of the councillors who did get my vote in 2010 voted for this after being elected on a platform of transparency and financial responsibility. This decision, while not entirely unexpected, is neither.
    It was disappointing how many members of the previous council who ushered in this farce were re-elected. Perhaps we have the council we deserve.

    • Elizabeth

      Lindsay, safe to say not enough people voted in the local body elections and real choices were slim indeed. Few people of any expertise or virtue offered themselves as candidates.

  64. Lindsay

    Don’t forget a mysterious reduction in rate increases in election year.

  65. peter

    I am very sorry if this is true, but I had to rely on someone else’s information because the ODT did not provide it. I asked this person if the voting record was the same as the one a week or so ago concerning Fliss Butcher’s motion about no more ratepayer spending on the stadium. At the time only Crs Vandervis, Butcher and Stevenson voted against. All the others, including yourself, voted for more ratepayer funding of the stadium. The answer was in the affirmative. Given this I had no reason to doubt and indeed was expecting the voting record to be the same. It would be a good idea if you could supply the actual motions and the votes for/against and place them on this site. Maybe Elizabeth has a record now?
    Once again, my apologies if my information was incorrect. I had no reason to doubt this person’s memory of the long debate.

    {Sorry, until the minutes of Monday’s meeting (14 March) are released (and confirmed) no official record of the voting is available to What if? Further, Kate is correct in her comment, next. -Eds}

  66. kate

    peter, you are totally incorrect to say that all other Councillors …. voted for more ratepayer funding of the stadium at the previous meeting. The first motion said quite the opposite. The motion that Fliss put up was contrary to that motion and did not add to anything – it was in fact probably void as it contradicted a decision already made. It was a play that you have been sucked in to.

    The record of the meeting will only show the voting that people asked to register their votes. Not everyone does that.

    Feel free to ask me directly about my thoughts but I will not necessarily post my thoughts of voting. I find it frustrating that you make comment without asking me directly. You definitely know how to.

  67. peter

    Kate. It was stated in the ODT that only three councillors voted for Fliss Butcher’s motion of no further stadium funding. If the ODT was incorrect, you or Cull should ask for a correction. The Butcher motion sounded clear to me. I can’t see why you should not be upfront with stating the voting record publicly here rather than through private emails where verification is harder. What’s the secret?
    In regards to yourself, did you or did you not vote for the $5.15m extra for the stadium? Jinty now says she did not vote for the $5.15m.

  68. JimmyJones

    The unconfirmed minutes of the 28/2/11 are available. The motion moved by Fliss Butcher was “That no additional ratepayer funding be provided for the Stadium project”. If I thought that she was a lot cleverer than she is, I would say that she was trying to damage the reputation of the other councillors with a motion that she knew would fail. Being as she is, it seems very likely that the primitive wording was due to carelessness and a lack of thought.
    The motion as worded, was very broad in scope, inconsistent with recent resolutions and had scary and unpredictable consequences (from the councillors’ viewpoint). So the motion was not a valid test of the views of the councillors about extra funding. Yesterdays vote achieved that.
    $5 million is worth saving, but it is small compared to the fake Private Sector Financing which is really a $29m loan to DVL paid by ratepayers. If this was done by a finance company someone would be in jail.
    $5m is tiny compared to 20 years of DVL operating losses and stadium debt servicing: 20 years x $19m/yr = $380 million. Losses will continue beyond this 20 years and only stop when a smarter council demolishes the hideous money-sucking monstrosity. See above for the details of the $19m total ratepayer impact (unofficial). Councillors need to know the size of the official total annual ratepayer impact before they make any further decisions. To proceed without knowing this would be reckless.

  69. peter

    I agree, Jimmy . Stopping the $5.15m was a litmus test of their commitment to curb the ‘hideous money- sucking monstrosity’ you speak of. They failed. They can’t even do the ‘small’ stuff. In the end, the final decision yesterday counts-spend more rate payer money on the stadium. There will be more requests to come.

  70. kate

    peter, The fact that I did not vote for the motion that Fliss put does not mean that I voted to put money into it. That was what peter suggested we had done. In fact we had already passed that at that time we would not give any more money to it. The first motion had already done the job.

    There were 4 motions made in that section if I recall correctly.

    I don’t need to be emailed necessarily, but if people want to find out how I voted it would be nice for them to ask me rather than make it up or have it made up by others. I do not feel duty bound though to go to every interested person by email, or every blog site to post my views either as soon as possible after a meeting.

    I did not vote for the $5.15 million, I voted against it, however that comes with some riders and until the minutes are available so that I can get the correct wording I want to be clear that it was not an easy decision and I would have voted for some to go to the project – it is not easily black and white – but until that information is available I cannot go further into the details.

    I am happy to have a chat about the pros and cons anytime, and admit to finding it hugely difficult to come to a final decision but blogging this stuff is not helpful – it is very difficult to write.

  71. peter

    Kate. It looks like the riders are the key and, as you say, you voted for SOME of the $5.15m. We don’t know how much of it you voted for as yet. Can you give a rough figure? It was only yesterday you voted. For many people, Kate, it is black and white. No more ratepayer funding. Full stop. Why don’t you and your colleagues stay firm and insist the wealthy and privileged who have pushed for this project behind the scenes cough up – for once? Unrealistic? I don’t think so. Their egos, and fanaticism for rugby, are at stake and if they knew you and your colleagues were strong, and meant it, they would back down. How about Allied Press for example? Wasn’t there recent talk about them sponsoring the big screens? Now there is nothing from them. They have been strong supporters of the stadium. There is no urgency for the stadium to open for the RWC. Carisbrook will do in the meantime. Let the stadium proponents sweat it out instead of the long suffering ratepayers.
    I can understand the misery of this stadium for you, but you and your colleagues have brought it upon yourselves.

  72. Anne Elliot

    I think it is nothing less than scandalous of Peter to assume how councillors voted at Monday’s meeting without any proof whatsoever. It is also ludicrous to link voting on Fliss’ motion previously to voting at Monday’s meeting. Such mindless blog entries add nothing to clarifying issues. Nor do personal slurs such as this one about Dave Cull:

    “He is nakedly ambitious, politically, and will court the powerful to get their approval, which he craves.”

    More substance would not go astray.

    D-Scene, digital version just out, says in a “blanket statement” that councillors voted 8 to 5 for the additional funding, with Butcher, MacTavish, Stevenson, Vandervis and Wilson voting against. There may be more nuances (a number of issues voted on) than the brief report alludes to.

  73. peter

    Your comment needs to be seen in light of your friendship circles. We need to see exactly what Crs Wilson and MacTavish, in particular, voted for and against with the $5.15m. None of it should have been voted for.
    I do not resile from my comment about Cull. I observe from events that have happened/comments made – and draw my own conclusions. If you don’t like it, tough. I don’t respect a man who goes back on his word.

  74. Phil Cole


    If I wait for a bus to get to Utopia, I’ve got a feeling you’ll get there before me…:)

  75. Robert Hamlin

    I’ve got a feeling more turf life-support costs will be coming. Just passed the Stadium on the way into work. Bright sunlight shining on it, but the condensation on the bags and the consequent light scatter meant that it was as dark as the Earl of Hell’s waistcoat in there. Presumably this early morning condo-gloom phase will get longer as the days get shorter.

  76. Russell Garbutt

    There are a few points that need to be said plainly without getting into too much name-calling.

    Firstly, the past Council caused to have a contract signed for construction knowing that there were a number of items excluded from the contract and also knowing that these items were actually required to ensure that the product was fit for purpose. It isn’t fit for purpose. My own belief is that a number of past Councillors were either incompetent at best or complicit in a deceit.

    Secondly, the myth of private funding continues to circulate. The forward selling of seats or other product has nothing to do with private construction revenue, but everything to do with diminished operating revenue in the years ahead.

    Thirdly, the prime user of the facility has not paid a single cent towards anything, and seemingly will not.

    Fourthly, the last Council had an excellent opportunity to tell Farry and his self-appointed private Trust to actually stump up with a little of what they have been promising since day one – private money. They didn’t.

    It is intriguing to see both national and local Governments putting the priority of professional rugby ahead of their communities. In Chch they seem hell-bent on ignoring the thousands of homes destroyed along with business premises and infrastructure so a few thousand visitors can come here for a holiday for a couple of weeks. In Dunedin, everyone knows that a far higher priority than another sandpit for these spoiled rugby players is a lowering of debt and rates along with a number of other projects that will not end up costing endless ongoing debt.

    To all those on the Council that blinked in the face of more greed from a sector that is unwanted, unneeded and unnecessary – hang your heads in shame.

    • Elizabeth

      And that, Russell, is a succinct and eloquent statement of truth.
      I defy any councillor to say that it isn’t.

      • Elizabeth

        ### ODT Online Thu, 17 Mar 2011
        Cull unhappy about stadium payment
        By David Loughrey
        Mayor Dave Cull has questioned the ability of the council’s group of companies to pay what it promised for the Forsyth Barr Stadium. He said yesterday the council should have been advised earlier there was a problem, and said the issue would be the first order of business for a new group set up to liaise with council-controlled organisations (CCOs).
        Read more


        ### ODT Online Thu, 17 Mar 2011
        DCC wants greater savings
        By Chris Morris
        A fresh round of budget reviews is under way within the Dunedin City Council, as staff search for “hard-core operational savings” to ease the pressure on ratepayers. Council staff have been asked to put forward new savings initiatives during meetings with acting chief executive Athol Stephens this week.
        Read more

  77. Russell Garbutt

    Just how long have we all been warning that DCHL have been stretched beyond their ability to pay these incredible levels of dividend?

    How many businesses do you know that tell components of their business that they will need to borrow to pay dividends to the parent company?

    There is no doubt that Cr Paul Hudson in his position of both a City Councillor and the Chair of DCHL was in the perfect position to be able to see both sides of the coin – he was party to every decision to force unsustainable decisions onto DCHL and in fact voted for that action to occur at every opportunity, and he was in the perfect position to know the capability of DCHL to operate in a businesslike way. In my view, Cr Paul Hudson has some serious explaining to do, and frankly I don’t see why some of his past decisions and actions are not open to some form of action.

    However, this does not excuse those from the past Council from some form of culpability in the matter either. Another example of poor governance brought about by a mixture of incompetence and an orchestrated campaign of deceit.

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Fri, 1 Apr 2011
      Council coy on DCHL meeting
      Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull refuses to say why the council is meeting behind closed doors next week to discuss Dunedin City Holdings Ltd (DCHL). The extraordinary meeting will be on Monday afternoon, and DCHL, managing body for the city’s six trading companies, is the sole agenda item.
      Read more

      • Elizabeth

        ### ODT Online Fri, 1 Apr 2011
        DVML-John Deere deal
        By David Loughrey
        Dunedin Venues Management Ltd (DVML) has teamed up with John Deere, in an arrangement with ramifications for the Forsyth Barr Stadium pitch.
        Read more

  78. peter

    Is it beyond the realm of possibility that the Government could eventually be forced to step in, sack the council, and appoint a commissioner? The problems look too large and complex for the present council to deal with. The range of personalities within the present council, to deal with this financial crisis,appear seriously compromised by past and continuing decisions. Collectively there seems to be no will to give up on ‘pet projects’ in order to get the city’s finances in better shape. Gone are the days – or should be – where councillors barter their pet projects – ‘I’ll support/vote with you on x if you support/vote with me on y’.

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Fri, 18 Mar 2011
      Caution over funding agency Bill
      By Chris Morris
      The Dunedin City Council is cautious about working with a new local government funding agency being established by the Government, fearing it could find itself saddled with other councils’ debts.
      Read more


      ### ODT Online Fri, 18 Mar 2011
      More investor security with new funder: Hide
      By Dene Mackenzie
      A New Local Government Funding Agency would provide more security to mum and dad investors keen to buy local authority bonds, Local Government Minister Rodney Hide said yesterday. A Bill setting up the funding agency was expected to be introduced to Parliament soon.
      Read more

  79. Phil

    I made the mistake of stopping by the FB stadium facebook site the other day. I always regret it afterwards. Anyway, I was interested to read a posting by the 15 year old school girl who is the official spokesperson for the stadium on their site. Presumably she was on a study break, or on her way to cheerleading practice. More importantly however, she announced that the stadium had purchased all the temporary seating. Have I missed something here ? I thought that temporary seating was to be hired in on an “as required” basis. And where did the stadium operators get money from to buy umpteen thousand temporary seats ? May well have been reported, but I obviously missed it.

  80. peter

    There’s the distinct possibility this was deliberate misinformation to assuage the concerns of stadium supporters who may be finally realising that the stadium is going to be quite small in terms of seating and what tournaments can be attracted here. Bumping it up with(temporary) seating sounds better. As you rightly point out, Phil, most of the contributors to this blog site are not sophisticated and all they need is to be fed some bullshit.’Oh yeah yeah. Grunt grunt.’ We had Rob’s Mob in the 70’s/early 80’s. This is Malcolm’s Mob in the 2010’s.

  81. fergal

    Grunt Grunt….oh, sorry, wrong site.

  82. Lindsay

    So the DCC fears it may saddled with other council’s debt does it. I would have thought it would have been the other councils that had the most to fear. Does that mean there are other councils with a higher level of debt per ratepayer than Dunedin?

  83. Phil

    According to “Buffy”, on the FB site, every major event destined to be in the Southern Hemisphere is “just about” to be announced as being held at the stadium. Top secret meetings (I kid you not) are being held “as we speak”, and we’re all encouraged to “watch this space”. It’s all terribly Secret Squirrel and awefully exciting. Not a huge amount of pen being put on paper, but that’s not the important thing.

  84. Phil

    Would that be considered Sponsorship, or Private Funding ?

  85. peter

    Is ‘Buffy’ a nom de plume for Malcolm Farry? Sounds like him.

  86. Calvin Oaten

    It is a typographical error. He/she pressed the f key instead of the l and the y instead of s and then mysteriously just stopped.

  87. Peter

    Or he/she pressed the f key instead of the l.

  88. Elizabeth

    ### March 24, 2011 – 03:59pm
    Dunedin City refinances NZ$90m of Forsyth Barr Stadium funding for five-years at average of 5.25%
    By Gareth Vaughan
    Dunedin City Treasury Limited has refinanced the bulk of the debt the Dunedin City Council took on to fund the new Forsyth Barr Stadium for a longer term at fixed interest rates, providing certainty about interest costs.
    In an ANZ managed offer to institutional investors that was more than double subscribed, Dunedin City Treasury has sold NZ$90 million worth of five-year floating rate notes which will pay interest at a rate of 3 month bank bills plus a margin of 1.07%. The new floating notes would effectively cost the Council a fixed rate because they are hedged by interest rate swaps put in place two and a half years ago with an average swap rate for the next five years at 5.25%.
    Read more

    (6.08pm, via @UglyBobNZ)

  89. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Tue, 29 Mar 2011
    Restricted council liaison group draws criticism
    By Chris Morris
    Calls for more city councillors to be included in a new group to liaise with the Dunedin City Council’s council-controlled organisations (CCOs) has been rejected, prompting criticism from some councillors. Plans for the group were first debated at a finance, strategy and development committee meeting on March 14, and approved after a fractious debate at yesterday’s full council meeting.
    Read more

    See related story at ODT (also referenced above on this thread):
    17.3.11 Cull unhappy about stadium payment

  90. Peter

    That DCHL meeting sounds ominous. The management by the directors, where the organisation is over $400m in debt and can’t service its stadium dividend, without yet further borrowing, must mean real change at the top. Heads should roll, but will they? I’m not confident given this council’s general lack of courage.

    {Moderated. -Eds}

  91. Anonymous

    “Bought a lawnmower” translates into “teamed up with John Deere”

    By the way, has anyone else contemplated that bringing the opening date forward to accommodate the All Blacks test may have further financial implications? It’s a schedule variation outside the GMP contract.

    Also I hear that the new Academy of Sport building is intended to be complete (at least in terms of exterior) prior to RWC 2011.

  92. Peter

    David Davies said ‘the contract was “a sweetheart deal”, where John Deere would get “the kudos of being involved with the stadium”’. What does this actually mean? No kudos, I’d imagine, if the turf maintenance is problematic and John Deere gets the flak.

  93. Phil

    A Sweetheart Deal is an “offer too good to refuse” deal. Not a phrase that one typically uses publicly as it’s often associated with dodgy under the table deals. Let’s say (hypothetically) that a car dealer goes to the head of City Planning and offers him/her a brand new car. For $100. A contract very much in favour of one party on the surface. An unwritten understanding is reached that City Planning will look favourably on a plan by the car dealer who intends to extend the size of his sales yard in the future. An offer not extended to other car dealers in the area.

    In this case, think it’s just an unfortunate choice of terminology. I would doubt that Mr Davis would leave himself open to claims of corruption or inside deals. I would say that they are getting the groundskeeping gear for a bargain price, and in return they don’t charge for any ground advertising by the supplier.

  94. Bluebottle

    Peter, at the secret Council meeting on Monday, I think that Bevan Dodds (CEO of DCHL) will be told to pull his head in, or else find another job. This will be a continuation of the 7/2/11 FSD meeting when Bevan Dodds revealed that the proposed extra funding demands for the Otago Stadium were not compatible with the continuing financial viability of DCHL. This appears to be a long-standing disagreement between the DCC CEO and DCHL, but this was the first time that the conflict was made public (well it would have been public if the ODT had reported it). This was also when our councillors discovered that council staff had kept the dispute secret from them. Even though Bevan knew that he could be forced to comply with the demand for the extra dividend, he publicly revealed that the matter was still not settled, and he showed no sign of acquiescing.

    At the meeting, every councillor learned that the proposed level of dividend would eventually bankrupt DCHL. They expressed their concerns about this as I described » here, and yet most of them decided to continue down the path towards a financial train-smash.

    So Peter, ask yourself who will be to blame for the demise of DCHL? Will it be DCHL, who have now publicly resisted the non-viable proposal; or the 8 councillors who voted to force DCHL to make non-viable payments to feed the stadium monster, even though they were aware of the serious consequences?

  95. Anonymous

    If Bevan Dodds were to be given those two options, the smart thing to do would be to take the latter. I would not want to be standing within 10 miles of the train-wreck that is coming and which may be unavoidable.

    The Local Government Minister can dissolve Council and appoint a Commissioner. What is the equivalent for replacing the Board of CCOs and CCTOs?

    Musing on this earlier: what does it actually mean when a City goes bankrupt? The TLA has an obligation to provide essential services (waste, water, various environmental obligations, resource consenting). Central Government would take those over under the direction of the Commissioner? What else?

    • Elizabeth

      No money for stadium though… the we-know-nothing sounds like a ‘club’ response.

      ### ODT Online Sat, 2 Apr 2011
      Rugby: Five Dunedin clubs deny claims of paying players
      By Alistair McMurran
      Five Dunedin rugby clubs have rejected accusations that they are buying players for their premier team this winter.
      Read more

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Sat, 2 Apr 2011
      Vandervis annoyed no meeting report
      By David Loughrey
      Dunedin city councillor Lee Vandervis says holding Monday’s extraordinary council meeting with no report for councillors to read beforehand is both “illegal and immoral”. The extraordinary meeting will be held on Monday afternoon, and Dunedin City Holdings Ltd (DCHL), managing body for the city’s trading companies, is the sole agenda item.
      Read more

  96. Calvin Oaten

    I recall my letter published in the ODT recently. A line of drivel some might say, but now relevant none the less.

    WHY the feigned surprise over the possibility of Dunedin City Holdings Ltd (DCHL) not being able to pay for what it promised for the Forsyth Barr Stadium? Mayor Dave Cull said the council should have been advised earlier there was a problem. But hold on, this impending problem was, and has been flagged, since as far back as 2005. That was when council was faced with a rate increase of around 12.5%. On the strength of this CEO Harland went to DCHL seeking a one-off special dividend of $10 million on top of the already budgeted $9 million to total $19 million. This reduced the rate increase to just 5.7%. DCHL were only able to do this by revaluing upwards the forest estate of City Forest Ltd and borrowing against that increase. It has been shown that DCHL’s indebtedness has increased from some $212.486 million then, to now, where its total long and short term borrowings stand at $414.14 million. Now this information was readily available to councillors if they had only bothered to read the annual and six-monthly reports. Alternatively, DCHL’s directors, chaired by Cr Paul Hudson should have been vigorously warning the council that this constant demand for more and more payments could not continue. But instead, Cr Hudson continued to vote in support of the major capital projects. And now we have arrived at ‘crunch time’. Dissension in the ranks, talk of integrity and talking out of school does nothing for the dilemma this council has found itself in. With the exception of newcomers, Crs Vandervis, Thomson and MacTavish, none are without blame.

  97. Could the meeting be to consider DCHL “investment” in laying fibre in partnership with the Government’s broadband plans?
    Whatever the subject, it is ridiculous if councillors are expected to make decisions without any time to analyse and research the proposed action.

  98. Calvin Oaten

    Here is some additional published drivel which might give a hint about the controversial council meeting to discuss DCHL.

    Originally published in D Scene 23-3-11, in a slightly abridged form.


    Mayor Dave Cull is questioning the ability of the council’s group of companies to pay for what it promised for the Forsyth Barr Stadium. He said the council should have been advised earlier there was a problem. Why? After all, this problem was flagged as much as five years ago. If he and his fellow councillors had read the DCHL annual reports, they only had to follow the debt trail to see the problem developing. In Y/E 2005 the long and short term borrowings stood at $219.56 million; while at 31/12/10 that total is $414.14 million. Right there is the nub of the problem.

    As it now stands, DCHL has an undertaking to pay each and every year to the DCC dividend and interest totalling $18.2 million. As well, it is to pay $5 million per year off the stadium capital debt. It also needs to service its in house debt of $414.14 million. At 7% this would amount to $29.98 million. A total net cash outflow of $52.18 million per year. With annual revenue of around $234 million, to extract 23% before meeting all other operational expenses is just not possible in the competitive world in which these companies operate.

    Then there is the DCC’s position to consider. In the 2011/12 Draft Annual Plan it shows the net debt in 2013/14 to be $275.75 million plus DVL’s stadium debt at $139.1 million, a total of $414.85 million. Between 2010/11 and 2013/14 it is proposed to pay $54.96 million in debt interest. But in the same period it chooses not to pay $34.64 million of due interest, but rather to capitalise it. Even though in that same period it will receive net from DCHL (if able) a total of $83.06 million in dividends and interest. And it goes on year after year. But what if DCHL can’t produce the promised monies? Does Mayor Cull and council have a plan ‘B’?

    In the meantime we have seen the Town Hall/Conference Centre increase in cost from $14.5 million to just over $50 million. The Otago Settlers Museum has increased and the Stadium commitment has escalated from $91.4 to $108 million, plus the underwriting of the Private Funding, to the tune of some $30 million. Council had continuously voted approval of these projects, and we have just now seen a vote for an additional $5.1 million and another $650,000 is in the offing.

    Now Mayor Cull gets unhappy, and says “It is an unsustainable level of debt.” Cr Paul Hudson – who is also chairman of DCHL – says “DCHL is not running out of money”. He was “quite surprised” Mr Cull was speaking about aspects of a confidential meeting. Why was it confidential? It’s public money at stake here. If DCHL is not running out of money then the figures above certainly suggest it is. Cr Hudson said that DCHL was paying a dividend that was higher than what it was earning, and the company was having to borrow money to pay it. “There will come a point in time when that is no longer sustainable,” Cr Hudson said. What an admission from a director of the company. And what of the other directors?

    With the exception of newcomers Crs Vandervis, Thomson and MacTavish, no councillor is exempt from blame in this fiasco.

  99. Russell Garbutt

    Could the meeting be at all concerned with the extraordinary other “investments” that either DCHL or components of DCHL have been making in recent times? Residential building sections at Jacks Point, huge purchases or donations to professional rugby? Could it be that the level of debt incurred by DCHL has now reached the point where the whole ugly pack of cards is about to tumble down?

    Seems to me that there are a large number of issues surrounding DCHL, the relationship it has with its parent DCC and all could be serious enough to be considered at an extraordinary meeting of the DCC. Also seems that very few people know exactly what is to be discussed and more importantly it seems that the meeting is going to be held behind closed doors.

    I sincerely trust that Councillors will not be gagged from telling us all exactly what is going on in the woodshed – after all, they are the servants of the ratepayers, not their masters.

  100. Peter

    Just speculation, but could the meeting be about the selling off of an asset, like Citibus, that recently lost a contract by $1000? Maybe that’s why Cr Chris Staynes said the announcement would be no surprise. The recent loss may be a softener. That loss being a pretext for the start of other asset sales to be announced – with maybe City Forests and Waipori to follow. The recent ‘revelation’ about the dire state of DCHL could be the pretext for asset sales. Much like the Government will use the Canterbury Earthquake for asset sales after the next election.

  101. Stu

    @Alistair – it’s unlikely to be fibre. Those tender negotiations would be announced by Crown Fibre Holdings and they have given no indications that negotiations with either Flute Networks or Telecom (the two competing tenders for the Dunedin LFC) are near a conclusion.

    Nor would any such announcement involve DCHL as a group; it would be limited to Aurora.

    In fact, the nature of speculation surrounding the meeting would be more likely to hurt Aurora’s tender chances rather than help.

  102. Russell Garbutt

    We will await with bated breath what transpires at this meeting.

    But while we are all doing just that – I wonder who has got the answers to the basic question that may be at the heart of all this.

    Just who, or whom, has benefitted most by the decision to build the stadium?

    The answers to this question may at last reveal just why the decision to proceed with the project was made.

    Don’t waste your time by saying things like “the community”.

  103. Peter

    Who has benefitted the most? I’d wager the landowners for a start. I only wish they’d pissed in the right bucket with their money, not ours.

  104. Russell Garbutt

    As a hint Peter and others, collect a list of people who were involved one way or another from way back and their organisations and affinities. Then look for commonalities.

    There is a wonderful book that was written a long time ago now that tells the story of the first ascent of the North Face of the Eiger. It is called “The White Spider” and is called so because of the large ice-field feature high on the face. The name comes about because it looks like a giant white spider with its tentacles reaching out in all directions, gathering all it can from the face and funnelling it to a central point.

    I hope the analogy is clear enough.

    • Elizabeth

      ### April 4, 2011 – 6:49pm
      Could an extra-ordinary meeting for DCC be illegal
      A Dunedin City Councillor is outraged by the circumstances leading up to an extra-ordinary meeting of the Council this afternoon. Councillor Lee Vandervis says that the meeting is illegal, and he has concerns that the democratic process is being jeopardised by the lack of information on the meeting’s content.
      Video Link

      • Elizabeth

        The matter for council discussion and or decision making appears to be very serious…

        ### ODT Online Tue, 5 Apr 2011
        ‘Disgusted’ Vandervis storms out of meeting
        By David Loughrey
        The public may have to wait another fortnight to discover the subject of a non-public meeting yesterday involving the council’s group of trading companies. Last week, an agenda was released for an extraordinary meeting of the council with the subject “Dunedin City Holdings Ltd Matters”. DCHL is the parent company for a group including Aurora Energy, Delta Utility Services, Citibus and City Forests.
        Read more

  105. Anonymous

    None of my contacts can or will talk about this matter in any terms, nor are aware of anything building up to it. No other media outlet has picked up on it yet, which is fortunate. I’m leaning towards this being triggered by an internal event at executive level, rather than pressure from external sources.

  106. Peter

    Our Stadium Committee members:

    Sir Clifford Skeggs (Chair)
    Nick Smith (Vice Chair) (Owner of Allied Press-ODT)
    Tim Calder (Sec)
    Doug Harvey (Treas)

    Eion Edgar (Trustee of CST & director Forsyth Barr)
    Paul Dwyer (ODT Advertising manager)
    Mark Stevens (Manager Metro Realty)
    Damian Newell (DJ Jock & Bayleys Real Estate agent)
    Graham Gosney
    Ian Carter John Timu
    Edna McAtamney Lois Muir
    Dick Bunton Clive Mathewson
    Jan Hindson David Gerrard
    Gail Miller Warren Alcock
    Frankie Wells Ian Farrant
    Dave Burke Stu McIntosh

    Graham Sydney and Suzy Staley asked to have their names removed from this list. A chocolate fish for anyone who can guess how many committee meetings occurred. They have achieved incredible “private” fundraising. Money in the bank so far, including head naming rights, is still $30.
    Can anyone see the “white spider”?

  107. Russell Garbutt

    Different White Spider methinks….

    • Elizabeth

      Russell, read your excellent letter to the editor and Cr Paul Hudson’s reply in today’s ODT. He didn’t answer your questions. They were hard-hitting; they won’t be going away anytime soon.

  108. Russell Garbutt

    I assume that most people also noted that he didn’t answer any questions at all. They can judge the quality of the response themselves, but it seems to me that Cr Hudson has some real explaining to do and that hasn’t happened. He can’t have it both ways – he is either looking after the interests of DCHL as the Chair of the Board, or he is a Councillor insisting on levels of dividend from DCHL that are unsustainable.

    He certainly didn’t inform anyone of when he gave any warnings to the DCC and that is crucial as I’m sure there are those that read this site that know the answer to this question…….

    • Elizabeth

      (by email link) Very nice, straight-up editorial at D Scene this week:

      ### D Scene 6-4-11
      Editorial: ‘Commercial sensitivity’ draws cloak (page 2).
      Secrecy is like a red rag to a journalistic bull – not knowing something is anathema. But it’s not just journalists who don’t like secrecy. Councillor Lee Vandervis caused a scene at Monday’s behind-closed-doors Dunedin City Council meeting to discuss the DCC’s holding company.
      {continues} #bookmark


      I just wish D Scene would go digital so What if? can supply links quickly/efficiently…

      Register to read D Scene online at

  109. Calvin Oaten

    The DCC sees DCHL the same way ants see aphids. They milk them to death. Difference is aphids are easily replaced. As for Cr Hudson, he first and foremost is looking after Paul Hudson. You only need to look at how a small band of men share among themselves the duties of directors of not just DCHL but all of the subsidiaries as well. For the Y/E June 2010 they paid themselves $663,592 in fees, of which P Hudson got $115,936. It is pertinent to note that they have voted an increase of 8% in fees for this current year. This would take P Hudson’s share to $125,210. So you can see Russell, why it is that he will say nothing at all which might incriminate him.

    • Elizabeth

      The poorly guarded secret is out.

      ### ODT Online Tue, 12 Apr 2011
      Citibus sale on agenda
      By Chris Morris
      The sale of underperforming Dunedin City Council company Citibus Ltd – which has lost $800,000 in the past two years – has been revealed as the topic of last week’s controversial non-public council meeting. However, it remains unclear whether the company is in the process of being sold, and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull has again refused to comment on “speculation” ahead of a possible announcement next week.
      Read more

  110. Peter

    Dave Cull, on last night’s Channel 9 News, claims that when all is revealed in two weeks’ time it will be seen that there was nothing particularly controversial about the meeting. I guess we’ll have to wait and see and judge for ourselves.

    • Elizabeth

      ### April 5, 2011 – 7:15pm
      Non-public Council meeting kept under wraps due to its commercially sensitive content
      Yesterday’s non-public Council meeting, which drew criticism from one City Councillor in particular, was kept under wraps due to its commercially sensitive content. Councillor Lee Vandervis criticised the legality of the meeting, but Mayor Dave Cull says although behind closed doors, the meeting was well above board.

  111. Russell Garbutt

    The whole area of public transport seems bizarre.

    Why is it exactly that the Otago Regional Council decide who provides public transport in Dunedin city when the DCC owns a public transport company? Either it makes sense for the DCC to provide public transport or it doesn’t. If it makes economic sense for it to do so then it should do so. If it doesn’t make economic sense then it should contract a provider to provide those public transport services. Why is the ORC is involved at all seems a mystery to me.

    However, once again Cr Paul Hudson is in the middle of this mess. How come he, as a Councillor, and as Chair of the group of companies that own Citibus, doesn’t seem to have addressed the issues surrounding Citibus before what seems to have been a crisis meeting?

    But in perspective, this loss is about the same as the loss being made by the Chinese Gardens. Should we sell this as well?

    It also interests me that the ODT seems to have been able to get through this heavy veil of secrecy surrounding this meeting. To do so would require either a really high level of investigative journalism or for someone to leak the information to the paper. Based on capabilities, the latter is the answer and so the question must be asked – who leaked? Was the leak in fact a conscious one by some of the players? If so, why?

    Many questions to be answered I feel.

    • Elizabeth

      One councillor in the recent past has leaked privilged information and been caught out – argued on the basis of a (perceived) ‘public good’. Something about Chin offering to sell our social housing to pay for the stadium. Hmmm.

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Thu, 12 May 2011
      $10 million debt ‘a fantastic outcome’
      By Rebecca Fox
      The Otago Regional Council will borrow money for the first time, to fund its final contribution to the Forsyth Barr Stadium. It had originally planned to borrow all its $37.5 million contribution to the stadium, but had been able to fund the two previous payments internally while it waited for a ruling on whether its contributions were tax deductable.
      Read more


      ### ODT Online Thu, 12 May 2011
      Meeting result ‘positive’
      Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull yesterday said it would be at least a week before the council could reveal the results of a non-public meeting on the Forsyth Barr Stadium.
      Read more

      • Elizabeth

        Boys of the old brigade and the token female. Oh, and Kereyn Smith, again.

        ### ODT Online Fri, 13 May 2011
        Alumni fundraiser for stadium
        By Hamish McNeilly
        Marc Ellis, Alison Shanks, Jonathan Lemalu, and Dr David Kirk are urging other University of Otago alumni to join a new Forsyth Barr Stadium supporters club. The brainchild of former University Chancellor and Carisbrook Stadium Trust trustee, Sir Eion Edgar, the Forsyth Barr Stadium University Supporters Club targets alumni members outside of Otago and Southland.
        Read more

  112. Peter

    Leaks are what makes the world go around. They occur where things are not right and potential corruption exists. We need a Dunnersleaks – little brother to Wiki.

  113. Russell Garbutt

    Problem is that the potential for leaks is enormous.

    All the Councillors that attended the meeting, all the Council staff that attended the meeting, Council staff that may have provided background information, Citibus staff and management, DCHL staff and Board.

    So, if it is accepted that there was a leak, the next question to be asked is was the leak an intentional one?

    Referring to the Chin housing offer – that was another example of a Council determined and used to operating in a way that was opaque. We have been promised transparency and the more I see, hear or read, the more I believe that not a lot has changed. What a shame.

  114. Phil Cole

    Although it is only a leak (or rumour?) at the moment, I hope that if ‘Citibus’ needs to be removed from the DCHL portfolio because of its losses (losses for DCHL means less money in dividends etc to pay for the stadium) – they (DCC) are not thinking about getting rid of the ‘Citibus’ operation. It’s only a guess that this, or something similar, might be the thrust of that ‘behind closed doors’ meeting.

    One of the challenges facing Dunedin is to get a reliable, affordable, convienient and modern bus service operating around all of Dunedin before private travel becomes too costly for the majority of people. If it doesn’t, then Dunedin citizens will have to get used to walking, cycling or skateboarding everywhere!

    Private bus companies will come in and raise fares (as is proven around the world), thereby maximising their take from NZTA subsidies before either holding the ORC to ransom when it comes to re-tendering the routes or leaving Dunedin with no bus service. If the latter is the case, the only good thing will be a saving on our ORC rates bill (and the ORC are finally rid of their ‘transport problem’).

    The sad thing is, is that with a little vision and foresight Dunedin can have a reliable, efficient, affordable and convienient public transport system that will be well-used and achieve its aim of a ‘true’ public transport system affordable for everyone. Public transport may have a stigma of being a big loss-maker, but this is because most follow the ‘tried-and-failed’ models in place in most cities around the world.

  115. Russell Garbutt

    Phil, your points are well made, but I come back to the very interesting position of Cr Hudson in this mess. He sits as Chair of DCHL and should be intimately aware of what exactly is going on in that group of companies. But it is clearly apparent that he either hasn’t a clue, doesn’t understand what is going on, or does understand and doesn’t care. I cite as examples, his lack of any forthcoming information on the level of direct or indirect support of the ORFU through Delta, his apparent inability to control or question dubious purchases of ORFU product by staff members of Delta, the lack of vision or inability to adapt to changing conditions within Citibus, and of course the biggest of all his actions, his lack of protecting the dividends of DCHL from the voracious maw of the rugby stadium. As I say, he has a lot to answer for, but he seems to be able to straddle the fence quite easily.

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Wed, 13 Apr 2011
      Citibus drivers fear jobs at risk
      By Chris Morris
      Drivers at Dunedin City Council-owned bus company Citibus are in “limbo”, waiting to learn if their jobs will go and if the company will be sold, but their fate could become clearer later today, the union representing them says. New Zealand Tramways Union president and Citibus driver Bill Simpson said yesterday he would be meeting Citibus management later today to discuss the possible loss of up to 10 drivers’ jobs.
      Read more

      • Elizabeth

        ### ODT Online Thu, 14 Apr 2011
        DCHL confirms Citibus for sale
        By Chris Morris
        Attemps to sell the struggling Dunedin City Council-owned company Citibus have finally been confirmed, and a condition of any sale could secure the future of drivers. Dunedin City Holdings Ltd chief executive Bevan Dodds yesterday ended days of speculation by confirming the Citibus board was in talks aimed at selling the company. He declined to identify other parties to the talks.
        Read more

  116. Phil Cole


    Yes, I agree with you. As I see it, although there isn’t a conflict of interests as such – both being a Director of DCHL and a Councillor should have the same aim of doing what is best for Dunedin – the way he answers matters about his involvelment with DCHL matters does leave people to draw their own conclusions.
    By the way, say hello to Don K. for me!

  117. Russell Garbutt

    Phil, have said hullo to Don!

    I think that the conflict has arisen because of the voting positions that he has taken. I’m unaware of why he is in the position of being Chair of DCHL – I would have thought that an independant Chair would be the best scenario, but others may see some advantage in having a sitting Councillor in that position. The problem arises when matters become opaque and his response to my letter in the Oddity where he stated that he holds regular financial briefings is a reflection of this lack of transparency. We still don’t know when, or indeed if, he has ever formally or informally cautioned the DCC from making ridiculous demands on the levels of dividend from DCHL. But he has consistently voted to put himself in what most would describe as unsustainable levels of debt by voting that way on Council.

  118. Peter

    What’s next of the family silver to be sold off? Place your bets, folks.

  119. Phil Cole

    Oh Dear….
    ‘Listen not for whom the bell tolls…it tolls for the public of Dunedin’ (with apologies to John Donne).

    So when we emerge from the other side of the current economic turmoil in three or four years time and the people of Dunedin need to get around the city for employment purposes or general social visiting…

    There will only be a ‘private’ (not public) transport service to replace the unaffordable prices of private vehicle motors (Petrol). Higher bus fares (due to ‘private’ companies and lack of users) will be the norm although the bus companies will be ok from the subsidies they receive. Meanwhile, the able-bodied and young can walk, cycle or skateboard everywhere – although the demographics will be changing to an ‘older’ population.

    Oh well…I guess all these spatial plan workshops and ‘your city our future’ groups would have allowed for this…I guess ‘accessible city’ is a bit of an oxymoron…

    Why on earth is what is very much a ‘social’ necessity – much like water supply, electricity etc – being treated as a commodity that can be just ‘fobbed’ off…where, oh where is the ‘vision’!!!!!

    Je despair!

    • Elizabeth

      Phil C – Our [DCC] built environment leadership group (comprising community representatives and administrated by staff) heard absolutely diddly squat about this pending Citibus fire sale. Not surprising. DCC works in cells, and one cell belongs to the freaking elected representatives, fawning to the stadium [debt] as a priority; and DCHL is chaired by an excuse for a pay cheque. Cell numero…

      The built environment group is unequivocably pushing that public transport (geared to providing ‘customer service’ ~!!!) is necessary to the maintenance, regeneration and development of the city.

  120. Russell Garbutt

    Phil, vision is something that is attained by visionaries, and I would love to see a simple “yes” or “no” scorecard put alongside the names of the immediate past and existing Councillors of both the City and the Region.

    So, as an example, Cr Neil Collins – is he, in your view, a visionary? Y or N

    This could be extended by adding additional lines eg does he, in your view, understand anything about running a City/Region?

    Make sure all people are covered and have space for additonal comments.

    This would be very interesting to see. Maybe the results of such a very unscientific poll could be presented as part of the Annual Plan submissions.

  121. Phil Cole


    Blimey…I do feel sorry for you! I would be ‘spitting tacks’ if I was in your place – if the council want to involve good people such as yourself in a process that initially has a good purpose then it always helps not to change the goalposts (‘lines in the sand’ anyone?) while the process is being undertaken.

    I guess my 5 minutes-worth of waffle at the annual plan hearing will turn into a ‘5 minutes to save public transport in Dunedin’…that should be fun!!
    Oh well, trying to persuade some of the councillors to change their minds will be…interesting!

  122. JimmyJones

    CitiBus is not the family silver. Before the loss of 20% of its business it lost money, and that was going to continue. Selling it has been a good idea for a long time, and now I think that it is a very good idea as a way to maintain the employment of the bus drivers. Relax everybody, there is no reduction in the bus service; it doesn’t matter who owns the buses. There are more important things to be mad about.

  123. Phil

    I’m not a fan of things running at a loss, but there are some activities which are core business activities and are necessary to maintain a functioning community. Water, waste, refuse collection, road and sreet lighting maintenance. Those things are needed, and, while they should be run efficiently, should not be required to make a profit. I place collective transportation in the same category. Anyone who thinks that everything a local authority does should generate a profit is dreaming, and completely missing the point of local government. I don’t like the fact that it’s currently losing money, but, for me, that is secondary to the need to have such a system. I’m in favour of the heavier parking restrictions imposed in the CBD. That’s a positive step along the path of breaking private transportation dependency. Now the bus system needs to become better organised, and cheaper as an incentive. It might mean that it runs at an even greater loss initially, but it needs that jump start to draw people in.

    I remember a municipality that I lived in for a number of years which had an excellent public transportation system. It was heavily subsidised to attract passengers, and inner city parking fees were grossly over priced to deter commuter traffic. Worked extremely well. The irony was that the more people who took the bus, the more money that bus lost, through extra fuel use etc. However, the money saved through a reduced road maintenance demand, car parking buildings, and a reduced need for parking enforcement, took away a large amount of that subsidised loss. I personally think the same would apply here in Dunedin when comparing a loss making rail freight line to Port Chalmers versus road mainentance costs along the same route. It’s a little simplistic to look at one activity on its own and determine its worth. One needs to step back and look at how that activity affects other activities. Then the true cost and worth can be determined.

  124. Phil

    All the above being said, I believe that a large part of the problem rests with the fragmented funding and responsibility system, split between local and central government. This is a globally outdated system which, unfortunately, local government can do little about. But it does restrict the effective changes that local government can bring about. Particularly in the area of transportation which we’ve been discussing. In most western countries it’s now common practice for central government to hand budget funding, resources, and responsibility over to the local authorities each financial year. Allowing for local authorities to make any changes necessary to any roading/rail networks, public schools, healthcare facilities etc located within their geographical boundary. Without having to see if central government will pay for their share of the state highway work. The qualified people who would have made many of those decisions in central government are redistributed around the local authorities, meaning that the decisions are not left up to a small group of non qualified elected officials. So it’s quite a different system to the one we have today. The current fragmented system is creating more problems than solutions. Unfortunately, it appears unlikely to change.

  125. Russell Garbutt

    Do any others note that their contributions to the ODT Online site disappear without trace? Usually without appearing first? Strange that the warblings of the rejected Walls appear however…

    • Elizabeth

      Russell, we know why the utterings of the rejected one feature there. Hmm, what was that phrase, thick as water?

  126. Phil

    I gave up a while ago, Russell. Once I realised that my contributions must have suddenly been written in invisible ink. I now go to other media outside of the region, where the level of journalism interest is higher and more genuine. I know this site really pisses them off, which is part of the charm.

  127. JimmyJones

    Phil, you haven’t explained why the DCC needs to own a bus company. The ORC provides a subsidised bus service which is funded by rates and central government taxes (I think). When Ritchies Buses and such, tender for bus routes, they do so aiming to make a profit. Tendering the bus routes helps the ORC minimise the cost to passengers and ratepayers/taxpayers. As long as there remain sufficient bus companies to compete for future contracts, then the absence of Citibus won’t make a blind bit of difference to the bus service. For DCC ratepayers we will be better off without another loss-making business. Remember that there is no benefit to passengers if Citibus makes a loss. The benefit to passengers is from the subsidised fares which ORC ratepayers pay for. In the days of trolley-buses it might have made sense for the DCC to own the buses, but now it doesn’t.

    The popularity of private vehicles is completely justified. Go By Car – its faster, cheaper, better. Phil, every day Dunedin’s travelling population predominantly elects to go by car. Who are you to say we are wrong?

  128. Phil

    If it were only me, Jimmy, then you might have a case. But when the rest of the world is embracing collective transportation within cities while actively discouraging private transportation, then who are we to say that they are wrong ?

  129. Calvin Oaten

    Phil, you say public transport should not be only concerned about making money, but rather to provide a civic service. I couldn’t agree more. I have long thought that public transport is an essential service like water, rubbish disposal, sewage treatment, roading maintenance etc. These items have standing charges as an integral component of our rates. If the city owned the transport system based on a standard rate charge supplemented by a gold coin per ride from terminus to terminus or any stop in between, then with petrol heading the way it is, we might find the support would be overwhelming. It could still lose some money without breaking the city. Trouble is the city is so overwhelmed with debt on non core assets that we find the boffins capitalising huge amounts of interest on this debt because they can’t pay without crippling the ratepayers. This is reason for selling ‘Citibus’ anyway. Trouble is, when it is gone it is gone, as Phil C says.

  130. JimmyJones

    Calvin, don’t you understand that we already pay for the bus service (subsidy) through our ORC rates. Choosing to keep Citibus as a loss making company is paying twice – once through the ORC, and again through the DCC to pay for the Citibus losses. Paying to keep Citibus provides no benefit to bus passengers; it’s a complete waste of money because when Citibus disappears, then another company will take its place. The buses will still run; in fact most of Citibus’ actual buses and drivers will continue here with a different owner. It doesn’t matter who owns the buses, the level of service is determined by the ORC and is reflected in the contracts that it signs with the various companies. The bus fare is determined by the ORC not by the DCC or Citibus.

    Selling CitiBus in one piece is better for the staff and selling it is better for DCC ratepayers also. The buses will keep running, they really will. Try not to worry.

  131. Peter

    For me the problem with the buses is their frequency. The routes seem to cover the city as widely as possible and the buses themselves are modern and comfortable. The cost – relative to the car – is a factor. What will really help is the rise in the price of oil. People returned to the buses more when oil prices increased- as witnessed a couple of years ago. With the drop in oil prices people returned to their cars. Simple economics. We are heading the same way again. The furore over the DCC’s parking regime theoretically should have helped but the downside was the negative effect on downtown businesses. They also raised bus fares, from memory, which didn’t help.
    A few years ago we lived in Kazakhstan for a year. There people kind of share car rides in a very informal way. You basically stand by the side of the road with hand out and very soon a car stops and, if heading in the same direction, you negotiate a fare. No matter if it is too much as another car is usually waiting as a back up. In this way the owners of cars get a ‘subsidy’ to help run their cars and the passenger gets a quicker trip to wherever they are going. I thought it was a great system. This was common throughout Central Asia. Mind you, the roads were still crowded with cars. This is not public transport as such, but it is car sharing of sorts. Who knows such a system could take off here, in time, as we slide to Third World status, economically, as seems increasingly apparent.

  132. JimmyJones

    Well Phil, it seems to me that the group that you call “the rest of the world”, who you say is embracing public transport, are a very separate group from the freedom travellers that are subject to being actively discouraged by the first group. I would guess that “the rest of the world” is a relatively small group of town planners, city councillors and extremists like Fliss Butcher, Jinty MacTavish and yourself. The rest of us (freedom travellers), throughout the cities of the planet have considered the issues and decided that in general buses are for people that can’t afford to own a car; a last resort for the poor and those who don’t/can’t drive. We have listened to your scary stories about peak oil and global warming and we either don’t believe you, or think it’s not significant. Look out your window and count the cars – every day cars win the vote. Anyone who thinks that they should interfere with our right to choose how to travel needs an extremely good reason and a much better one than your fake predictions.

    Here is my comment on Peak Oil at ODT Online.

    Text Here

    • Elizabeth

      We don’t want to sink to ODT Online’s lack of editorial control on ever-cycling arguments for and against peak oil (or climate change for that matter). This thread, and we most certainly allow wandering in threads, is about stadium funding – and by extension, what is happening to DCHL and DCC budgets, with all due effects on residents and ratepayers.

      In reply to Peter and Phil, have a look at this website about rideshare systems using cell phone and GPS technology:

      In newsletters and other sections at the website we can read about where it has been launched globally. With the technology involved it’s not solely reliant on a large population base to work successfully. Other parameters have the ability to hold it up. It’s interesting that it will work for private car users as well as bus and shuttle services (public and private) – this flexibility is needed in a city like ours. Not hard.

      • Elizabeth

        ### ODT Online Fri, 15 Apr 2011
        Cull defends move to sell Citibus
        By Chris Morris
        Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull is defending attempts to sell struggling Dunedin City Council-owned bus company Citibus, despite criticism the move will rob ratepayers of a public asset. New Zealand Tramways Union national president Kevin O’Sullivan, of Wellington, who was in Dunedin yesterday, told the Otago Daily Times his organisation opposed the sale of Citibus because it was a public asset.
        Read more

  133. DaveG

    Russell said “Do any others note that their contributions to the ODT Online site disappear without trace? Usually without appearing first? Strange that the warblings of the rejected Walls appear however…” Hmmm, yet others “rejected” by the voters get theirs published, so your supposition holds no credence. In some cases they’ve been rejected a number of times. Bev Butler and Calvin Oaten are two such widely published repeat failures. Perhaps you should run in the next election and inevitably fail, Russell, then they may publish your own “warblings”.

    • Elizabeth

      I’ll take a birdseye view and make a vile assumption that all the rejected one’s warblings (mushrooming) at ODT Online about OUR WATER, are simply about ‘someone’ aspiring to have a directorship on any CCO set up for governance of OUR WATER ASSETS.

      No additional income stream, for one, is worth the city’s misery. The stadium is a benchmark. Think about who voted it through.

  134. Russell Garbutt

    DaveG, your reasoning and assumptions are as flawed as can be.

    It is a fact that all published material is censored, moderated or controlled – some more than others. Every news bulletin you hear or watch has been selected before you get to hear it. It has become a common situation whereby some blogs or message boards or whatever are controlled in certain ways. If I remember correctly there was a thread on one local site that tracked the number of articles, blogs or contributions that the ODT had refused or had abridged in a way to make them meaningless. That should tell you something.

    I have no intention of standing for any local Council, but that shouldn’t be a reason for having contributions ignored. You may or may not have seen a recent letter I wrote regarding DCHL and Cr Hudson in particular – I would not be at all surprised that some pressure is applied to have annoying and difficult questions disappear. It took Hudson over a week to come up with his non-answers – that should tell you something DaveG.

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Tue, 19 Apr 2011
      Public excluded from second DCHL meeting
      By David Loughrey
      A second extraordinary – and non-public – Dunedin City Council meeting has been called to discuss “Dunedin City Holdings Ltd matters” and an “investment opportunity”. But Mayor Dave Cull said last night the issues were not “of such import”, and he and deputy mayor Chris Staynes would not be attending.
      Read more

  135. Peter

    The frustrating thing with the ODT is that when they allow good letters to be published that ask good questions – with poor, evasive answers received – they do very little, or nothing, to follow up with a real news story. This is either lack of initiative or just a biased attempt to bury the issue. Think stadium. They know with some letters they have to publish because it wouldn’t look good not to do so and complaints, or exposure, to the Press Council could follow.
    The desire for the ODT to be a more proud, investigative paper has been a long running sore. Drop ‘The Wash’ and substitute something with meat in it. (Apologies to vegetarians)

  136. Russell Garbutt

    Agree, the lack of investigative journalism by the ODT is not confined to this particular newspaper – I have recently attended a very interesting meeting where the lack of such journalism was being decried. People that own newspapers don’t want to spend money on such projects. It was said by the Washington Post that if Watergate had happened a couple of years later, then the investigation would not have happened and we would have had a few more years of the crooked, bent Nixon in control of the world’s biggest economy.

    It is not in the interests of the few to have part of the masses investigate what they are up to either.

  137. Calvin Oaten

    I was basing my ideas on the ORC disappearing out of the equation as well as other operators. All city transport would revert back to the DCC just as it used to be. It never made money then nor even broke even. Always they tried to claw back losses by increasing fares or reducing service. I contend it should be part ratepayer funded and part user pays. If there was a simple, cheap fare structure such as the gold coin suggestion, it would then be a numbers game. If the patronage was high enough it would work. Simply increasing fares to recoup losses never work. It simply drives clients away. If people could travel to and fro to work for $10 per week I suggest that most would leave their cars at home and avoid the parking cost or hassle. It shouldn’t be designed to make profits but to supply a social service. It needs to be there for when the use of the private car becomes prohibitive, a day not far off.
    But I guess we will never know.

  138. Phil

    Agreed. It’s the fast food argument. It doesn’t matter how cheap you make fruit and vegetables, the majority of people who have always bought fast food will continue to buy fast food if it stays at the same price and in the same format. The only way to break their habits is to initially make the fast food prohibitively expensive and make the a healthier diet a significantly more attractive alternative. Once you’ve won the diehards over, you can add some balance to the mix when still making sure that the consumer is having their needs well enough met to ensure continued patronage of the desired alternative.

    In short, incentives need to work hand in hand with disincentives. No point in cutting bus fares if the routes are flawed and a car is still a realistic alternative. It’s all about making people think they’ve gained something.

  139. JimmyJones

    Calvin, I think that organising the subsidised bus service throughout Otago is about the only useful thing that the ORC does. I don’t see what advantage there would be in each city/town organising their own bus contracts; in fact it would be worse because some co-ordination is needed between towns.

    Your idea about charging is about the same as what we have now. The ORC-organised Dunedin/Otago bus service runs at a loss, a profit is not expected and it is paid for out of your ORC rates. The level of subsidy is about 60% (I think). The question is how much should each bus ride be subsidised. This is a compromise between cost to ratepayers and encouraging bus use. I think the subsidy should be zero (private buses only), but you and Phil and the Tramway Union would probably disagree.

    Once you have decided on the overall level of subsidy, then you can decide if you are going to give discounts to some users and charge others more. So if you were to have a cheap day-pass or student discount etc, then you would have to charge others more.

    The perfect bus service would be low cost and would take you to your exact destination whenever you needed it. To reduce cost, it could be self-driven. In other words, a car. The only problem with cars is people like Phil who think that their decisions about transport are superior to everyone else’s (83·5% of Dunediners travel to work in a non-bus, motorised vehicle – an increase from 2001 to 2006). What I am saying is that car use should be made easier, and buses should not be publicly funded (no subsidy). The non-waged could receive a transport allowance with their benefit similar to the accommodation allowance. Can someone confirm that Dunedin’s trams were privately owned and operated?

  140. Phil

    As I said before, if it were just my opinion, that would be a valid point. The reality is that New Zealand transportation priorities are flying directly against the global trends heading into the future. No longer is it considered a good enough reason to carry on with a practice simply because we always have. We never progress as a society. Either we’re wrong, or they’re wrong. And there’s an awful lot of them.

  141. JimmyJones

    Phil, I think that locally and globally, the popularity of your view is fairly low. This is reflected by the transport choices we make: in Dunedin 3·5% of commuters use the bus and 83·5% use motorised personal transport (2006). In this case the views of politicians, town planners and various lobbyists/NGOs is vastly out of touch with the reality on the streets. These people have agendas far removed from that of a mother of 3 buying groceries at Countdown.
    Personal transport has been desirable since Adam hopped on a donkey. Since then it has improved with the use of horses, bicycles and now various forms of motorised personal transporters. This is progress.
    You take the bus if you want to, just try to respect the choices of the 83·5% of Dunediners that disagree with you.

  142. Peter

    Jimmy. I think there is no denying that cars provide greater mobility/flexibility for people compared to public transport. Except when you are caught in traffic jams and public transport has its own right of way lanes. (Not relevant to Dunedin). You might argue that the answer is just to build more highways to solve that problem. The cost of doing so has to be weighed up with the costs of subsidising public transport. And, of course, there are environmental costs to take into account with highway building.
    Your ‘freedom travellers’ concept has some validity, but freedom for some sometimes impinges on freedom for others. Not everyone can afford to run a car or are in the position to use one. Others just don’t want to use their car all the time. Therefore you have to have a decent public transport system so those people have a measure of freedom, to travel, if you like. It’s about equity.
    Los Angeles is the ultimate car oriented city with its myriad spaghetti highways. Going West and driving the freeways was part of the Great American Dream. How that has affected the appeal of that place, now, in terms of built environment, may be to one’s individual taste in terms of wanting that model for a city. I was brought up in Melbourne and the public transport there, for a big city, is pretty good as far as the train, tram and bus networks working together to move people. Further out, from where the tram lines end, it is not so good and you have to rely on just trains and buses. It’s all a question of getting a good mix of public and private transport.

  143. Phil

    I would go further and say that 83.5% of New Zealanders think exactly the way that you say those in Dunedin do. It’s a national issue, not just a local issue. Which is saddening as nothing will progress without central government leading the way. There’s a lot of talk coming out of Wellington about future planning and catching up with the rest of the world. But from where I’m sitting, it’s just talk. The only solutions being heard are to re-invent existing outdated ideas. Part of the problem of living on an island. I had to laugh reading in the ODT the other day where a couple of local experts were spouting off about heat pumps and how they didn’t work in Central Otago (arguing that solid fuel burners were the only practical solution). Well, I lived in a country where the outside air temperature sat below -20deg C every day for 6 months of the year. And air to air heat pumps worked perfectly fine there, returning 3:1 heat recovery efficiency. There was nothing wrong with the principle, the problem was ill-informed advice and methodology being employed. Through a lack of exposure to alternative systems that had been proven to work. They only knew what they knew. And thought that was all there was to know. If Norway can supply 25% of its hot water heating demand through solar heating technology, then I can get a heat pump to work in a 10 deg Queenstown frost.

    I’ll stick to my ideals, if that’s ok. I see collective transportation as the way forward in terms of road safety, energy consumption, air pollution, and noise pollution within urban areas. I see it also reducing the amount of city land taken for roading (typically around 30%), which has costs for maintenance and stormwater disposal.

    I suspect we should probably agree to disagree on this. One of us is bound to be right.

  144. Calvin Oaten

    Jimmy, I, like you, think councils ought not be in the arena of public activities. But transport is, I believe an essential social business and should be supplied by the people for the people. The system we have is fragmented so no one operator can gain sufficient economy of scale. Therefore the idea of a ratepayer/ user pays monopoly in the people’s hands is the only way both cost ‘attractive’ (as opposed to ‘effective’ ) can be implemented. It has to have the captive market. Then, it has to be super efficiently operated to extract the maximum value for money. Therein lies the rub. But it is just a matter of good management with a sense of social responsibility. As it is, ‘Citibus’ has none of those attributes. Nor has it any incentive to aspire to same. If all ratepayers have a stake in its success, and are constantly reminded of this it could work. A major shift in people’s mindset on car use is required, but then I guess the ‘Big Oil’ companies will do that over the next few years. When that happens and no viable alternative is in place then chaos will be the outcome.

  145. Calvin Oaten

    I believe one or more of the original hill service cable trams were privately owned and operated. But they eventually came under the control of the city. The main line trams were, I believe always council owned. I can still remember they were all written with the city crest over ‘DCT’.

  146. JimmyJones

    Peter, I agree that Not everyone can afford to run a car or are in the position to use one., but that doesn’t mean that you need a public transport system. I think that society wants to provide assistance to those people, but taxpayer/ratepayer subsidised buses are not the only way to provide the assistance that they need. Public transport could be abolished and financial assistance could be provided to help them using taxies and private buses. By doing this assistance is provided only to those that need it, and it hinders those of you that want to manipulate our transport decisions. I don’t expect this idea to catch on straight-away, but I think it’s worth considering the purpose of subsidised transport. Being clear about what you are trying to achieve usually helps you do it better.

  147. JimmyJones

    Phil, you said One of us is bound to be right, but maybe there is no right and wrong. I think you and me have very different ideas about what values are important. I value freedom, you value low fuel consumption and minimising noise pollution.
    When I say I value freedom, I don’t just mean my freedom, I mean everyone’s right to choose how they travel without interference from governments/city councils. I don’t think you are saying that I am wrong to value freedom, and I am not saying you should not value peace and quiet. The best solution won’t be a compromize, it will be a way that satisfies both sides.

  148. Anonymous

    For $60 million, Portland built the best bike and pedestrian infrastructure in the US.

    That’s approximately 1/3rd of what we are spending on a stadium. It’s about the same as the University is spending on one building.

    In this country, expensive consultants tell us it would cost $7 million to do about 3km of bike infrastructure in Caversham.

    Why do we continue to put up with overly expensive consultants and bureaucracy that are stifling real development that actually improves the lives of citizens? Why do we tolerate two major institutions (University of Otago and DCC) where the majority of staff seem to live in a world of self-doubt and paralysed analysis?

    Where’s the vision?

  149. JimmyJones

    Calvin, thanks for the tram info.
    If it is a choice of “economy of scale” from a monopoly, or a competitive tender process, like what the ORC run now, then I’m with the ORC. The ORC system is the best of both worlds because we have only one entity that collects the money and co-ordinates how the services run. The other part is the competitive tender process which helps reduce costs.
    I think that it is foolish to think that sacking all the other bus companies and having a Citibus monopoly would give a Dunedin a more efficient bus service. Citibus’ inability to make a profit when the other companies can, demonstrates its inefficiency.

  150. Jimmy, I spent a month last year living in your utopia. A place with no fuel taxes, plenty of roads, and everybody with the freedom to choose how they travel, as long as they can afford it.

    Naturally, this leads to the commons dilemma. Almost everybody chooses to drive, because it is in the self interest to do it. However, despite the extremely abundant supply of roads and motorways, they are a finite resource (or at least the rate in which they can be extended is outstripping people’s ability to choose), and now well passed their limit. As a consequence, the fastest way to travel in Los Angeles frequently seems to be by bike. Sometimes, regulation is necessary to protect people from themselves.

  151. Peter

    Jimmy, you say,’Public transport could be abolished and financial assistance could be provided to help them using taxies and private buses.’ Sounds awfully bureaucratic – and expensive. Not sure how this would work.

  152. Phil

    We’re possibly talking about the same thing, Jimmy. Almost. Collective transportation isn’t intended to completely remove the private vehicle. Nor is it designed to stop a mother going to the supermarket with her young children. That’s not realistic. It’s designed to deal with regular routine high density traffic flows moving between zones. Being commuters who travel from one part of the city to another part of the city to and from their place of work or learning at the same time every day. That’s its prime function. It’s that group of people who cause 90% of the private transportation problems within urban areas. If we could have removed 3/4 of the cars using the Southern Motorway between 7am and 9am every morning, the remaining traffic flow wouldn’t require an expensive roading upgrade. Portsmouth Drive, during peak commuting hours, handles 6 times the traffic volume it was originally designed for. But it’s not a fun place to be.

  153. JimmyJones

    Peter, I hope that it would cost less because only those that needed financial travel assistance would get it, instead of everyone that uses a bus. I suggest that beneficiaries each get an extra payment or vouchers according to their travel needs. This level of assistance would be the same as what they get now with ORC’s bus subsidy (about 60%). I am told that our hospital board run a system like this for taxi rides (100% subsidised I think). The concept is the same as the Housing Allowance.

  154. Peter

    Logically, for arguments sake, if we drastically cut the highways budget, nationally, and let the ‘free market’ reign, people would find alternatives-like public transport and/or car sharing- to overcome the problem of increasingly clogged highways in order to get from A to B more quickly and efficiently. Hence use of public transport could conceivably increase in favour because of its ‘mass’ transit appeal. The profitability of public transport would likewise improve. The counter argument might be that poor infrastructure-in this case, roading- stifles economic growth. However, the use of rail for freight could become more cost effective alongside clogged highways.In the end, the economics for either side can be manipulated depending on where the political will is situated and how powerful each lobby is, in relation to the other, in influencing the politicians.
    I’m open to flaws in this argument.

  155. JimmyJones

    Phil, you say that it is commuters who cause 90% of the private transportation problems within urban areas. I say that Dunedin’s problems with traffic congestion are minuscule compared to Auckland, Sydney, London etc. Nevertheless many of us will be pleased with the Caversham four lane-ing and other improvements. You seek to avoid expensive upgrades, but it seems to me that the rate of spending on improvements has been quite low in recent years, and anyway the money being spent on the Caversham Highway upgrade will have a real benefit to peak time commuters. This is a productive use of our money I think; a lot different to the DCC’s wasteful spending on the Dunedin Centre upgrade and the Financial Blackhole Stadium.
    The purpose of our roads is to carry vehicles with low levels of congestion at all times including peak times. This is what we expect, and what we pay for. A whole bunch of DCC councillors and all of their transport planning staff need to understand that.

  156. Peter

    Jimmy. I guess this comes back to the needs-based means test/vouchers for choice option versus the simpler, less bureaucratic ‘open for all’ option. No right answer there, I think. Frustratingly, we swing from one side to the other, depending on the swing of the political pendulum.

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Sat, 16 Apr 2011
      Proposed changes concern bus drivers
      By Allison Rudd
      Citibus drivers reassured as recently as two days ago they were not facing redundancy if the company is sold have been asked to consider pay cuts, reduced hours and significant roster changes, a Dunedin trade union leader says. The drivers were “understandably concerned” about the mixed messages they were receiving, Glenda Alexander, industrial adviser for the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and convener of the Otago Combined Trade Unions (CTU), said last night.
      Read more

  157. JimmyJones

    Peter, I think that if we had a transport allowance for beneficiaries instead of subsidised buses that it would be dealt with similarly to the accommodation allowance whereby you describe to WINZ your need for travel and the allowance/vouchers are calculated accordingly. I would do it like this: a 50% subsidised bus ride for each justifiable round trip; justifiable trips would be for education and employment and one per week to buy groceries etc.
    I predict that this won’t happen because the savings probably wouldn’t be great enough to justify the change. It is about as likely to happen as free parking everywhere and the abolition of all bus lanes.

    • Elizabeth

      What floors me is the number of Dunedin residents who, in their infinite wisdom, haven’t bothered to find out WHY it is ORC runs the buses. Painful reading, the opinion cast (in comments to certain publications) that if “DCC” sells off Citibus this will remove a conflict of interest (??) and allow DCC to take over the bus system from ORC.

      Eh? From which planet? WRONG.

  158. the Caversham Highway upgrade will have a real benefit to peak time commuters

    Unlikely. After the Fairfield motorway was built, another 1800 people moved to the Taieri (not new residents, mostly existing city residents). After Caversham is four laned, another more people will move out there, and we’ll need the next upgrade.

  159. JimmyJones

    The Caversham motorway upgrade will easily cope with another 1800 more residents at Taieri and Fairfield and Sunnyvale. I doubt your assumption that the Fairfield motorway was the cause of Taieri’s population increase. 1800 people seems like a huge increase, how do you know it was 1800, and over what period?
    It is inconceivable that doubling the capacity on that part of the motorway would not reduce traffic delays significantly. Even if the peril that you fear comes to pass and more cars use the road, then even more travellers will benefit from removing the constraint.

  160. Census figures. The increase was much bigger between 2001 and 2006, as compared with 1996 to 2001. It’s pretty predictable. Motorways cause traffic rather than reducing congestion.

    And it’s entirely conceivable that doubling the capacity will not reduce traffic delays. It’s an equilibrium. If you make the trip faster, more people will choose to drive, which will slow the trip down, as the next choke point will become evident (probably not enough capacity when the traffic gets to town?).

  161. Phil

    That’s correct. It doesn’t address the issue of what do you do with all those extra cars once they’ve zoomed along the new superhighway into the central city. The roading network and parking within range of the CBD or University hasn’t gotten any bigger. In reducing one problem, it’s increasing another.

  162. Stu

    Purely in terms of problem solving where the issue is congestion (non-free flowing traffic), the Caversham work is correct.

    My baseline is 7 minutes from Green Island to Cresswell St when there is no congestion. The choke points are easily identified: the lights at Barnes Drive and the 2-lane from there to Andersons Bay Road. The Southern Motorway southbound of Green Island is never congested; between Barnes Drive and Green Island can become congested very rapidly when there is an accident on Caversham Valley Road (typically 4-5 times per year).

    distractedscientist is correct to suggest that many town dwellers moved out in the period indicated – this was also the same time as the major new subdivision was developed at Sunnyvale, attracting many University of Otago academics/managers.

    Phil is also correct to point out that the improvement will serve to identify the next choke point – this will become the Andersons Bay interchange and Crawford St. At present, my preferred route to Central or North Dunedin from the South goes via Strathallan St and Wharf St to St Andrews St or even up via Dundas St.

  163. JimmyJones

    Expanding on Elizabeth’s comment: the DCC have an expensive computer model for Dunedin’s roading system. Modelling for the Caversham project apparently shows that the benefit to traffic flow of the four-laning is worth about $40 million for a cost of $13 million (see ODT – “Benefit of Caversham road work $68 million”
    Because the project has a Government subsidy, there should be no doubt that the traffic flow benefits have been proven and that the cost justifies the benefits. Forget about what Sue Kedgley says.

  164. JimmyJones

    Phil and Stu, it is clear that the lack of four lanes is the biggest constriction and that removing that constraint and being limited by the remaining constraints is beneficial to traffic flow to the extent that it is worth spending $millions. The project removes the worst choke-point; if the remaining constraints were of the same severity then there would be no increase in traffic flow, no benefit and no NZTA funding. The computer model will expect some increase in traffic, but I expect this effect to be small but overall beneficial, if it removes spillover traffic from South Rd etc.

  165. Phil Cole

    I guess the next question must be what are those benefits? Is it the fact that so many motorists per year can get through the section quicker, thereby saving 30 seconds on their travel time? The number of motorists per year times 30 seconds would indeed add up to a ‘theoretical’ economic benefit. The modelling will not allow, however, for time spent looking for a parking space / subsequent traffic light sequencing making the initial 30 seconds saved irrelevant etc. And what, exactly will those poeple do with their 30 seconds saved?

    By applying a similar economic benefit model to public transport, by increasing the number of passengers using an efficient, reliable, affordable and frequent public transport you would be surprised by the subsequent economic benefit cost…

    Models (however sophisticated) by their very nature cannot give an ‘accurate’ answer; just like other models such as climate change etc. They can only give you predictions – not definite answers. No-one can predict with any accuracy what people’s future travel patterns will be, especially by the time this project is completed.

  166. Stu

    @JimmyJones – take a look at the layout of the northbound interchange at Andersons Bay Road. The constricted flow into the two right-hand turning lanes will not allow more than about 15 vehicles out of the righthand motorway lane during that light cycle. That light cycle has to mesh with the southbound one, so it has a definite limited flow which will not increase post-4 lanes.

    So traffic will back up one lane of the motorway and flow will still be constricted. Most traffic (including heavy vehicles) has a preference to use the 3 remaining northbound lanes, this is fine, but they will still only have one lane usable from where the Andersons Bay right-turning traffic backs up to.

    Since northbound traffic rarely if ever backs up from Andersons Bay Road, it has sufficient peak flow capacity. Whether it has capacity for additional peak flow remains to be seen. But I’m sure that’s been modelled for peak flow at the intersection.

  167. Phil

    We were talking about that just the other night, Phil C. In our previous home in Dunedin we lived a 4-minute drive to the door of our place of work. A bit under 3km. Which was brilliant if one of us decided to go and work in the evening. But, during the day it would take around 40 minutes to get into the office.

    Because we drove. Every day. We had to drive past work, down to the nearest all day free parking area, circle a few times with the rest of the city trying to score a free park, park the car, and then walk all the way back to the office. We could have walked the route from home to work 10 minutes faster. Saving time, gas money, and stress.

    In Wellington I lived for a while up on Mt Victoria. Almost above the tunnel to the airport. And worked on Willis Street. Every morning I drove to work. One morning I was sitting at traffic lights halfway along Vivian St and noticed my nextdoor neighbour, who had left home at the same time as me, walking past my car. He would be walking past my work place in under 5 minutes. I still had at least 15 minutes more to get to a parking spot and then walk from there back to my place of work.

    Both examples of blind habit following, for no logical reason or real benefit. And, with insufficient disincentive not to keep on doing it.

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Wed, 20 Apr 2011
      Changes to tertiary parking
      By David Loughrey
      Urgent measures were yesterday put in place to expand the use of a Dunedin City Council parking scheme in the North Dunedin tertiary precinct, following a flood of complaints from tertiary staff. The complaints came as staff watched an average 60 parking spaces in the congested area remain empty each day.
      Read more

  168. Russell Garbutt

    Correct Elizabeth. Sometimes the collective ignorance pours out enough to make me further realise why it is that the “community” does certain things. Hard to understand, but much of it comes down to what information they are fed, in what form, and how.

  169. Stu

    Well, it’s not trivial.
    Public Transport Management Act 2008 confers powers on REGIONAL councils for public transport management in their regions.

    I can’t find in legislation where a TLA is specifically precluded from managing public transport. A regional council COULD delegate responsibility to a TLA under Local Government Act 2002.

  170. Peter

    If the issues were not ‘of such import’, why have an extraordinary non public meeting? This sounds like an oxy…moron.
    More promised greater transparency from Greater Dunedin.

    • Elizabeth

      Embarrassing; how a newspaper treats its customers badly. We’ll read the detail from your competitors! Or wait until after midday today.

      ### ODT Online Wed, 20 Apr 2011
      DCC sells Citibus
      Citibus has been sold, following two weeks of rumour and speculation. The Dunedin City Council yesterday announced a “conditional agreement” to sell the business and its assets.
      For the full story, see today’s print Otago Daily Times, or read the digital edition
      ODT Link

  171. Peter

    Did Eion Edgar’s ‘brainchild’ get a kick start from him? He could have said, ‘Here’s five million bucks, for starters, from me and the missus.’ Yeah, I know. Dream on, Peter………

  172. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Tue, 13 Sep 2011
    Tax call puts ORC in black
    By Rebecca Fox
    A multimillion-dollar tax refund and a special dividend from Port Otago has translated into a $4.3 million surplus rather than an expected $13.2 million deficit for the Otago Regional Council. The council’s draft annual report 2010-11 will be presented to councillors for approval at a meeting tomorrow.

    A report to council said the “significant contributors” to the positive outcome for the year were the unbudgeted $5.2 million special dividend for the stadium and the unbudgeted tax refund of $8.25 million received due to a ruling from the Commissioner of Inland Revenue that the council’s contributions were tax-deductible. Other contributions to the stadium had been made possible through internal borrowings, with the resulting difference in interest rates saving $2 million.

    Read more

    Wednesday 14 September, 1.30 pm – Agenda, Council meeting

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