### stuff.co.nz Last updated 05:00 11/03/2012
Councils borrowing billions
By Lois Cairns
Local councils have clocked up $1606 in debt for every man, woman and child in New Zealand at a time when the amount they expect people to pay in property taxes is rising steeply. Government figures released to the Sunday Star-Times show local councils are charging, per capita, an average of $951 in rates and that nationally, rates have risen an average of 7 per cent a year for the past decade. Over the same period council debt has ballooned from $1.8b to $7b.
Local Government Minister Nick Smith is worried councils are stretching themselves too far and has signalled changes to the sector. He is set to deliver policies in the next two months so local government can control costs and keep rate rises in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which has risen by around 2.2 per cent per annum over the past decade.
The SST cites Council debt per capita eg Kaipara District $4142; Dunedin City $1920 (Source: Statistics New Zealand)… making DCC almost look good by comparison.
The problem with this is it’s not showing up Dunedin’s average debt per ratepayer at a massive $11,056 to 30 June 2011, compared to Kaipara at $4,395 – also derived from councils’ audited annual reports. See Russell Garbutt’s comment https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/kaipara-this-time/#comment-22152
Lois Cairns for SST has gone off message for Dunedin’s debt crisis by using the alternative set of stats.
Dunedin City’s average debt per ratepayer currently sits at est. $16,000. Note the escalation from 30 June.
9.3.12 DCC considers writing off ORFU’s $400,000 debt
4.3.12 The Press: fresh doubt on economic viability of stadium
27.2.12 DCC Statement of Public Debt Summary as at 31 December 2011
21.2.12 Kaipara this time
26.1.12 Stadium debt goes to 40-year term
17.1.12 DCC living beyond its means [all spending and debt not declared]
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr
10 responses to “DCC debt”
Another squiffy ODT editorial today, no doubt brought on by the SST story published on Sunday as noted at the post above. ODT has since been emailed by contributors to What if? regarding which audited reports and sets of stats to use to properly appreciate the scale of Dunedin City Council’s debt (per ratepayer) – a debt level which outshines that of any other council in New Zealand. We hope ODT editor Murray Kirkness gets the mind-blowing picture and tasks his staff to do the appropriate investigative and publishing work required. This sort of information, its sources, background and critique are what citizens fully expect of a local independent newspaper and have the democratic right to know.
ODT Editorial: Grappling with councils’ costs
See Calvin’s comment.
It appears that the “Dunedin debt disaster” has its overseas cousins. I was sent this interesting link today which describes other jurisdictions.
I love the ‘we’ in that article. As if it is everyone’s (and so no-one’s) fault that the cities are in massive debt. No doubt that will be Cr Hudson and mates’ plan. Blame the debt Dunedin has on us all, and hope really hard that we have all forgotten that he and his fellow stadium debt councillors are responsible for the debt by the election next year. That seems to be going to plan. The media are in no hurry to remind voters that Hudson, Bezett and Brown are accountable for that debt.
There were 20 people in this town that were finally responsible for that debt and whether they are polishing the seats round the City Council or the Regional Council, they will always be known as the stadium councillors. It is up to us to remind each other and as many as we can just who those people are. They can no longer be “waiting for more information”.
Russell! The 20 people haven’t or can’t read their council’s own audited annual reports. Further, to think they understand the content and implications of the reports, or even draft reports, is a step too far. There are days when I think Accounting 101 should be prerequisite – ‘grasping that is vital to the survival and wellbeing of every organisation’.
Then I read about Creative Moral Accounting 101 and my imagination goes wild. :(
Hilarious, page 3 correction in ODT print edition today says:
“Yesterday’s editorial stated Dunedin City was third in a reported national list of indeptedness. This is incorrect. Dunedin was in the top third of the list.”
You have to despise the ODT’s base nature of ignoring its contributors’ entreaties concerning the council’s ACTUAL magnitude of debt… given the absence of open books and transparency that Dave Cull’s council perpetuates.
### tvnz.co.nz Published: 12:15PM Wednesday March 14, 2012
Rising rates help councils turn a surplus
Local authorities are raising rates and tightening their belts on spending, turning in their first quarterly operating surplus since the end of 2007. Statistics NZ figures out today show local authorities’ income exceeded spending by $69 million in the December quarter last year, following three quarters of falling deficits. It was the first operating surplus since a $14m surplus in the December 2007 quarter.
The ODT editor as well as Minister Nick Smith have both been informed that per capita debt is no real indicator of DCC’s level of indebtedness by comparison with other councils. Showing the average debt per ratepayer is the telling statistic – of which Athol Stephens will be well aware – and one which independent expert Larry Mitchell uses to assess all councils’ level of indebtedness in preparation of his published league table each year. That Michael Reid at LGNZ continues to say intergenerational debt is an OK thing shows him up as the fool he is. The game goes on, but perhaps now the Minister is listening to some of us.
### ODT Online Sat, 17 Mar 2012
Council debt load presages reform
By David Loughrey
Every man, woman and child in Dunedin will owe $2732 when Dunedin City Council debt peaks at a gross figure of $344 million. If council company debt is added, the figure rises to $602 million, and the figure per capita to $4778. Figures in this year’s annual plan and six-month company reports, both of which have reached the council table recently, show a level of debt that has been widely forecast.
Fri, 16/03/2012 – 10:15pm. russandbev Suggestion on OAG
“the less said about the Department of Statistics – which assert that Dunedin’s debt is about $2k per ratepayer when the reality based on the DCC’s own figures indicate about $16k per ratepayer – the better”
Did anyone believe Athol Stephens’ reply to Neville Bowie of Mosgiel on Council’s debt in today’s ODT letters? The sooner Mr Stephens quits his position the better. We’ve endured his mental health days for too long.