Submission to DCC draft long term plan (1)

Copy of submission received from Jeff Dickie, Dunedin
Date: Wednesday, 9 May 2012, 11:22 AM

I have in the past made numerous submissions calling for Council to “recognize a problem before we have a crisis”. We now have that crisis.

I have invested substantially in Dunedin. I now hold very grave fears for the city’s future and that of my 5 children, for whom I’d like to at least have an option of choosing to live here.

Under the previous Chin/Harland administration we saw financial incompetence on an unprecedented scale, coupled with a cynical disregard for democracy and the submission process. Secrecy and preset agendas marked this Bejing-style excuse for democracy. It was precisely this that allowed the stadium project to proceed. Had ratepayers been honestly informed from the outset, as to the true cost, as to the outrageous land/lease purchases and to the negligence in contracting an anchor tenant, it is highly unlikely indeed we would be faced with the now ludicrous possibility of ratepayers directly funding professional rugby.

In the last election I, along with many others, voted for a change to openness and honesty.

Dave Cull has inherited a very difficult situation and unfortunately has also inherited several of the “old guard” who have created the current mess. The lunacy of the stadium project was all too obvious from the outset. It has been an enormous flop and all the spin and smoke and mirrors cannot hide the fact that it has had zero income and is by any standards, a failure.

A huge hurdle facing the DCC now, is one of credibility. The whole notion of being able to be believed involves the concepts of openness, scrutiny and accountability. Our rates bills continue to seriously and deliberately misinform ratepayers, regarding the stadium’s cost per household. The figure per household should read in excess of $400 pa and not the dishonest figure put about by the CST of $66. The deception is long standing. I quote Malcolm Farry’s CST from DCC’s City Talk magazine dated April 2008. “we predict the economic impact of the new stadium to be $24M pa for the region”. For once I would agree, but as a deficit! Thus, Mr Farry’s prediction is really out by about $50M pa , ongoing.

We now have the ridiculous situation whereby, almost a year after the stadium opened, ratepayers still don’t know the cost. In this time period I have been involved with 3 quite large construction projects. One is here in Dunedin, another in Queenstown and one in Edinburgh. I can tell you that within days of each project’s completion, I knew within a very tight margin, what total costs were. I simply find it unbelievable that council has had to spend yet tens of thousands more of ratepayers’ money auditing construction costs. Yet I shouldn’t be surprised when I look at the methods used by a small cartel of individuals, many with massive conflicts of interest, who rammed this project through. The land acquisition methods would have to be a template for “how not to proceed with a large publicly funded amenity”.

Where do we go to from here? We need to learn from our mistakes. This necessitates policies that embrace openness, scrutiny and accountability. The current administration still seems reluctant to adopt such measures. We still have secret meetings. And bad news, such as the stadium cost, the DVML figures and the ORFU bailout, are drip fed as small bitter pills. Just as in running a business, or a household, it is vital that reckless and foolish behaviour is identified and made known.

I see a ray of hope in the new CEO, Paul Orders. I would like to thank him for coming here. I strongly suspect when he applied for the job he had no idea of the scale of the financial mess. I would urge Paul Orders and Dave Cull to move rapidly to disseminate all relevant details to ratepayers. The public generally don’t believe DCC “facts or figures” any more.

We need to move away from secrecy and clandestine deals, such as the purchase by Delta of 175 Central Otago sections, that most ratepayers still remain blissfully unaware of. Similarly, the highly questionable squandering of $360,000 of ratepayers’ money on the “Hungry Frenchman” restaurant debacle. In this case, every trick in the book was used to hide the figures. It was only brought to light by the vigilance of a little old man from Pine Hill. This unpaid individual knows more about what is happening in local politics than practically all of the elected and unelected members of council.

The DCC created a monster in the CST. And another monster in DVML. I would urge you to annul the unholy union with the ORFU, while you still can. Do NOT waste any more ratepayers’ money on sport.

Finally, I would like to encourage young people with vision, like Jinty, to run at the next election. You are right when you say it is your generation and your children that will inherit this massive ratepayer debt.. You have been criticised for using the Moana Pool, which was paid for by a previous generation, while being unwilling to pay for the stadium. The reality is that you will be paying for the stadium along with a huge majority who didn’t want it regardless. You don’t have a choice. However, it is a foolish comparison. Moana Pool is used by a huge number of people of all age groups and is busy every day. Unlike spectator sport, swimming keeps people fit and saves lives. The pool has a real income. People can afford to go there. The stadium is vacant week in, week out. It has no income.

Jinty, don’t be discouraged by comments tainted by the long gone glory days of rugby. We need young people who can prepare Dunedin for the future and intelligently invest the city’s money and resources. If the stadium remains, it should become a symbol of anachronistic backward thinking and hopefully motivate Dunedin’s future leaders to be more responsible.

[ends]

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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15 Comments

Filed under DCC, Economics, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Stadiums

15 responses to “Submission to DCC draft long term plan (1)

  1. Elizabeth

    Jeff says: “I see a ray of hope in the new CEO, Paul Orders. I would like to thank him for coming here. I strongly suspect when he applied for the job he had no idea of the scale of the financial mess. I would urge Paul Orders and Dave Cull to move rapidly to disseminate all relevant details to ratepayers. The public generally don’t believe DCC “facts or figures” any more.”

    I’m pretty impressed by Paul Orders, myself. He’ll need support from this community to ring the changes at DCC should that meet internal resistance. I’m prepared to think Dave Cull has sufficient of his mayoral term remaining to take a take a firmer grip, in full glare of public scrutiny. Less of the grey papers, Paul and Dave. Move the vidcam into council meetings and do the Youtube thing, for us all.

  2. Paul

    I submitted yesterday too – just to expand on what the ODT quoted today:

    Like a lot of people I’ve refused to use the stadium because of the way that it all went down – this year I’ve twice had to tell friends organizing local conferences that I couldn’t attend if they held them there, luckily they’ve both chosen different venues. But I did ask myself “what would it take for me to actually go to something at the stadium?” – I decided that the rugby mob who’d pushed it through needed to take financial responsibility for what they had wrought.

    So I proposed that the city take all the expenses on professional rugby, 2/3 of the stadium build cost and financing, all the losses from running it, ORFU bailouts, RWC expenses, interest we’re still paying on Carisbrook upgrades, stuff funneled through Delta etc etc and line item it on our rates bill as a “rugby rate”.

    Then make it voluntary – I’m sure the rugby fans will flock to support their sport, by taking ownership of the problem that they’ve created the rugby community will help heal the divide they’ve created in our community.

    Of course it’s possible that the rugby community wont step up and do the right thing, if they aren’t prepared to pay the rugby rate it’s unlikely the the citizens who are not rugby supporters would want to support rugby even more – it would mean the council has no mandate to fund rugby.

    I also proposed that the council institute a zero rates rise (inflation adjusted) so that our older citizens on fixed incomes are not priced out of the city by our current compounding rates.

    ——————————————————————————-

    Yes I know it was a bit of a naive thing to propose – but I was trying to give the politicians an out, they’re all seem kind of stuck at the moment.

    I got applause from the peanut gallery, none of whom I knew, I wasn’t expecting that

    Waiting to present was interesting, my wife kept jabbing me in the ribs pointing at the councilor (Hudson) who kept nodding off while citizens were presenting, while one other councilor continually displayed an email on his laptop to the audience which said in 24pt text “I miss you sweetie XXXXXXXX”

  3. Hype O'Thermia

    I’m guessing Bill Acklin, sounds like his reputation, of which I’ve been hearing more recently from someone who was in the music biz with him.

  4. Russell Garbutt

    Look at the seating arrangements at the Council table whereby a laptop screen being used by a Councillor could be seen by the audience. Acklin is the most obvious on that side. Staynes was using an iPad and I don’t think Hudson would know how to operate anything like that.

  5. Hype O'Thermia

    It also fits perfectly with his … ah-um … character.

  6. Radio Sport says according to PWC and the DCC the revised stadium construction cost is $8 million over budget.
    This seems very unlikely given that the fake valuation ($226m) was actually an estimate of the construction cost. Also the sale price (to DVL) has been fixed at $224m. Neither of these prices include various excluded items like SH88.

  7. Anonymouse

    The ODT are reporting the cost at 224m which correctly includes the interest during the construction phase. So the $208m is wishful thinking.
    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/208914/budget-blowout-pushes-stadium-cost-224m

  8. The previously undisclosed $18 million of capitalized interest is the main cause of the blowout. From memory we were told $91.4m, then $198m and now it is allegedly $224.4m. I am sure Malcolm has thought-up some excuses for why his construction is officially 45% over-budget. I would like him to tell us what happened to the Guaranteed Maximum Price.

  9. Hype O'Thermia

    He’s put the blame for making the decision onto the DCC – correctly, but leaving out some considerations. Public support was drummed up by his sales spiel – the rock concerts, private funding, vastly understating the price that would be paid by ratepayers etc etc. What was different about the spiel delivered by CST to the council? Yes, of course they should have engaged brains and done a bit of hard thinking and examination of FACTS – real old-fashioned facts and figures – but there were the two handicaps. One was the pro-rugby purblindness of a large number of senior councillors with reputations for bullying any who disagreed, the other was lifelong utter incompetence with money evidenced by some – one in particular – of the councillors who became a strong supporter of chucking another few million, and another and another at the Fubar.

    Critical thinking, asking for the details to be laid out in plain sight – the council failed at those.
    As for those members of the general public who rah-rah’d along with Malc, these are the people whose gullibility makes it worthwhile for Nigerian scamsters to keep on spamming with promises of “something for nothing” that end up costing them every cent they can lay their hands on.

  10. ormk

    Was it Farry that made the guarantee personally? Or on behalf of the CST? Or the construction company? Was it a real guarantee at all?……..should it have been reported in the ODT as a guarantee or was it just lose words?

  11. Hype O'Thermia

    ……..his mouth was moving.

  12. Anonymous

    Be assured that the GMP will be the GMP as proposed by CST and as delivered, on time and on budget.

    This does not of course include items that were not in the GMP as they were added extras after the CST handover.

    The process of what got thrown out of the GMP, by whom and when, questions can be addressed to the Project Delivery Team, who I am sure will answer in great detail and transparent fashion.
    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/28103/reviews-stadium-project-be-carried-out

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Fri, 11 May 2012
      Ratepayers vent anger over stadium
      By Debbie Porteous
      Ratepayers concerned about the Dunedin City Council’s financial involvement with the Forsyth Barr stadium continued yesterday to vent their feelings about the situation to councillors hearing submissions on the council’s draft annual and long-term plans yesterday, offering various thoughts on how the council could approach the problem it was now “landed with”.

      Some, like Jeff Dickie, suggested the council had credibility issues with ratepayers, which could only be regained by including in its budgets a forensic audit of both the Carisbrook Stadium Trust and the Otago Rugby Football Union.

      Read more

      ****

      http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/208838/democracy-action
      Today will be the final day of public submission hearings. Councillors will also have to absorb another 850 submissions on the draft budgets, to which submitters did not want to speak, before they begin deliberating on the budgets next week.

  13. A correction to my last comment about the construction cost blowout – the total cost to the DCC was agreed by council to be $91.4m (March 2008- PWC report para #45) and the actual DCC total spending is now $162.7m (PWC report para #168). This is a cost increase of $71m or 78%.

    The reason that this seems such a humungous increase is because it includes a $45m (aprox.) funding shortfall which was gloriously reborn as the famous Private Sector Funding. This transformation was a public relations success because all the DCC-ORC councilors believed it. The DCC have recently been forced by the auditors to refer to this as Private Sector Debt, but this is still a big fat lie because it is almost all DCC debt (i.e. public debt). So it’s not “Funding” and it’s not “Private”, but the PR firm that created it is quite proud (and well paid).

    The DCC spending of $162.7m is consistent with PWC’s total construction cost of $224.4m considering that the external funding was $62m. PWC acknowledge that they haven’t included roading costs (SH88) and I expect that there are various other costs not included also.

  14. Elizabeth

    This week’s D Scene arrived not long ago online – at page 2 Cull sounds like a prat, proud of his 5% rates increase: “I’m pleased we weren’t so focused on cutting the budget this year that we neglected to plan for the future.”

    Luckily, after reporter Wilma McCorkindale’s STRANGE capitulation to the stadium project last week, in which she took on the Mayor’s mantra of looking forward… D Scene received enough correspondence to fill ‘Your Say’ this week and next. See today’s page 4 ‘$162 million – and losing’, letters by Terry Wilson, Parkside; Ian Smith, Waverley; and Peter Attwooll, City Rise. On page 8 ‘Face up to the awful truth’ of stadium’, letters by Lyndon Weggery, Chairperson Dunedin Ratepayers & Householders Association; GR Macdonald, St Kilda; and Brian Andrews, St Kilda.

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