DCC: Outsourcing water and wastewater network maintenance

Updated Post 3:45pm – The Dunedin City Council is consulting with staff over a proposal to outsource its water and wastewater network maintenance. Read media release here.

City operations general manager Tony Avery confirmed a proposal was delivered to staff on Thursday. He declined to elaborate until a public release today, although he was swift to clarify it was ”definitely not” privatisation.


The council decided last year not to proceed with creating a council-controlled organisation (CCO) to run the city’s entire water and waste service, following a recommendation from a councillor working party that deliberated for more than 18 months. An external financial consultant had recommended creating a CCO.


The working party chairman, Cr Andrew Noone, said on Friday he understood the review focused largely on operations and maintenance, as recommended.

### ODT Online Mon, 6 May 2013
DCC may outsource water and waste
By Debbie Porteous
Proposals to outsource Dunedin City Council water and waste maintenance and operations are expected to be announced today, potentially affecting dozens of jobs. In 2011, 71 staff worked in maintenance and operations, which is part of the council’s water and waste services business unit. The service costs $19.5 million a year.

A member of the public contacted the Otago Daily Times on Friday after council staff repairing a leaking pipe near his property told him their work was being privatised from November.

City operations general manager Tony Avery confirmed a proposal was delivered to staff on Thursday. He declined to elaborate until a public release today, although he was swift to clarify it was ”definitely not” privatisation.
Read more

● The council is to release the results of the water and waste services review at 12.30pm.

DCC homepage portrait nightmares 6.1.13 (screenshot)

Related Posts and Comments:
24.8.12 Dunedin’s 3 waters, no CCO
16.8.12 Dunedin water assets
30.12.11 DCC Water and Waste Services
20.8.11 Your City What Future $$$$$$$$$$ ? (broke Council means corporatising OUR water doesn’t it)
22.1.11 Our water assets
19.1.11 Dunedin: your water
26.12.10 DCC – will there be a “corporate grab” of water infrastructure!?
30.1.10 ODT on “fiscal creep” + the 3 Waters bonanza

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Business, DCC, DCHL, Economics, Geography, Media, Name, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site

103 responses to “DCC: Outsourcing water and wastewater network maintenance

  1. Anonymous

    This man should not be in charge of any kind of operation whatsoever.

  2. He is the last of the ‘nincompoops’ of Harland’s era. Couldn’t organise a booze up in a brewery.

  3. Feed him to Doug Hall? That would be a fitting end.

  4. Hype O'Thermia

    Too right, Calvin. Change his name to Solid Phil…..

  5. Whippet

    Don’t shoot the messenger just yet. This goes much deeper than that. Could it be the start of the softening up process of ratepayers, that will eventually lead to privatising the whole water setup. The news release smells of the new million dollar spooks department at work, and of course the same councillors who made all those promises about the stadium that they couldn’t or didn’t want to keep. Question for Mr Orders. Why was this all kept under wraps until after the submissions for the Annual Plan closed. We may be starting to see the true Mr Orders starting to appear.

    • Still not seeing the water and waste services review that was for release at 12.30pm. If anyone has a link to the report/media release please publish it here.

  6. Mr Orders is between a rock and a hard place. He has my full sympathy, I honestly don’t think they seriously entertain ‘privatising’ water and waste services. I think it is a matter of, if we have this subsidiary Delta, why shouldn’t we put it onto them. They have all the expertise and facilities for it. The in-house position as at present is an abstraction, left over from the time of restructuring. In a word, duplication.
    The privatisation is a whole other question which I suspect is not a runner in view of the public distrust of the process. Time has moved on and ‘Rogernomics’ has been shown for the fraud that it was (I hope).

  7. Hype O'Thermia

    Your use of the term “to _put up_ (my emphasis) a … media release” put me in mind of barrage balloons. Weren’t they used to baffle [German] pilots and prevent clear sight of and passage to their objectives?

    • Hype, I like the analogy.
      The use of barrage balloons came up when Shane McGrath’s ‘yellow balloon’ – Gelber LuftBallon – was flown at Dunedin waterfront on 15 April. It’s fun to google that term.

      [aside] Here is one account via http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/83/a4551383.shtml (some rainy day reading):

      At the beginning of 1942 London was being heavily bombed and dive bombers were hitting their target. The Germans aim was to flatten London, and they might of succeeded had it not been for the barrage balloons.
      A barrage balloon was three times the size of a cricket pitch. They were made in Cadington. The balloons consisted of several panels of very tight fabric, at the back were three fins. The top of the balloon was filled with hydrogen, the bottom half was left empty, so when it was put up at a certain height it filled with natural air. If there wasn’t enough wind, the tail fins looked floppy but in time they filled with air. Balloons lost a certain amount of hydrogen when flying so they had to be topped up every day at the sites.
      Balloons were held by cables which were fixed to winches on lorries. Cables were more important than the balloons as an aircraft had only to touch a cable and it would be destroyed straight away. If the balloon was shot it exploded, taking the aircraft with it.
      The bombers had to fly over the balloons, so they couldn’t get any accuracy with their bombing, and they couldn’t dive bomb. It was dangerous to be near a cable is a balloon was shot down as the falling cable could kill a person. The winch has an altimeter which told you how high to fly the balloon, as they were flown at different heights. It was a hazardous job when you were winching up in a confined space, in wind and rain. If there was a strong wind the balloon would take itself off. It had to be handled with care because of the hydrogen.
      The rope attachments consisted of metal rings which secured the balloon when it was down. Because of wear and tear the ropes were becoming dangerous so they were replaced with wire, and the metal rings were put on the wire.
      Headquarters knew where the balloon sites were, usually they flew over important buildings like docks and shipping, and you were told how high the balloons should go and the plotters would tell us where the planes were. As soon as we received the information that aircraft were approaching, up would go the balloon; sometimes they would go up when a raid was anticipated. I was one of a crew of twenty so day and night were covered. We were housed in sport centres, schools and around cricket pitches.
      The repair centre was near Portsmouth, when I first volunteered to help with the balloons I had to go on a course there.
      A few elderly men were employed to pick up the balloon when it fell and take it to be repaired.
      The bottom half of the balloon was deflated and the hydrogen was removed.
      We used a large hoover like machine to keep it inflated while we were inside repairing the hole, and also outside. The paint and glue around the hole had to be removed and then large sticky glue patches were put over the hole. Three coats of silver dope was painted over the patch so that the hydrogen couldn’t escape.
      Weather often deteriorated the paint so we often had to repaint the balloon with three coats of silver paint. It was very toxic and we didn’t wear goggles or masks or special clothing. As we were in a hanger we’d work for half an hour, then spend twenty minutes in the fresh air.
      The Germans lost so many men and planes that they left us alone, then we started bombing Germany and that was one of the turning points of the war.

  8. Whippet

    Come on Calvin. Don’t get sucked in by the spooks. This is the start of privatisation of water services. Look how successful the change over in running the city forests mill at Milton has been. Wait till after the elections and see how quickly the ownership of that changes.

    • Here it is via Graham McKerracher (email Monday, 6 May 2013 3:10 p.m.):


      Dunedin City Council – Media Release
      Consultation Underway Over Proposal to Outsource Network Maintenance

      This item was published on 06 May 2013.

      The Dunedin City Council is consulting with staff over a proposal to outsource its water and wastewater network maintenance.

      A review of the Water and Waste Services business unit (WWS) has been carried out to look at ways to reduce costs to ratepayers while maintaining or improving service levels.

      Key points of the proposal are:
      ● The DCC retains full ownership and control over the water and waste services network. The proposal would not affect service delivery or public accountability.
      ● The proposal to contract out network maintenance is in line with most other councils. About 75% of New Zealand’s water maintenance work is either contracted out or carried out by a Council Controlled Organisation (CCO).
      ● Annual savings of $300,000 to $550,000 are expected if all of the water and wastewater network maintenance is contracted out.

      The outsourcing proposal was presented to affected staff last week. A consultation period with staff and unions is underway, closing on 4 June.

      DCC Water and Waste Services Manager Dr Laura McElhone says, “I am aware this is a difficult time for staff, but the DCC has to consider whether there are better ways to deliver the services.”

      Under the proposal, 30 staff would be transferred to the contractor on their existing terms and conditions of employment. The roles of two other staff would change, with redeployment options to be discussed. No redundancies are anticipated as a result of the proposed outsourcing.

      In proposing an outsourcing model, the DCC is confident there will be interested contractors who can deliver the same or better service at lower costs, for reasons such as economies of scale. To ensure there would be sufficient interest from suitably experienced contractors, expressions of interest will be sought at the same time as staff are being consulted.

      Dr McElhone says seeking expressions of interest at the same time does not mean a decision has already been made on the proposal. Rather it means the DCC Executive Management Team will have all the necessary information before making a final decision in June.

      In September last year, the Council decided not to create a CCO for water, wastewater and stormwater. Following that decision, all elements of water and wastewater services were reviewed to identify opportunities for improvement. The review was carried out by the WWS management team, with support from an external industry expert.

      Key findings included that the DCC was delivering required levels of service, but that costs were high compared to other New Zealand cities. Following on from the review, an overall process for change has been put forward. The proposal to contract out network maintenance is the first stage and a decision will be made in late June.

      Water and wastewater services receive $44 million of rates funding annually and employ 98.2 FTEs.

      What would remain in-house are all aspects of the network that ensure residents receive good quality drinking water. This includes operation and maintenance of the treatment plants and pumping stations, and all asset planning and investment decisions.

      The only work to be outsourced would be maintenance relating to the water and wastewater pipes.

      Contact Water and Waste Services Manager, Dunedin City Council on 477 4000.


      DCC Water and Waste Services Manager Dr Laura McElhone

      [public domain]

      [public domain]
      via NZ Herald 29.4.10
      Dr McElhone questioned whether New Zealand councils had the contract management skills to sit on the other side of the negotiating table with private companies.

  9. Hype O'Thermia

    “Annual savings of $300,000 to $550,000 are expected if all of the water and wastewater network maintenance is contracted out.” Further along this is explained as being down to economies of scale.

    I don’t understand. Are there companies doing the same kind of work already in Dunedin therefore currently duplication of machinery, and it would be cheaper to bulk-order materials delivered to Dunedin?
    The other explanation would have to be that the DCC is running these services like a bunch of unrestrained bozos still stuck in cost-plus protocols where wastefulness and cockups don’t matter.

    I knew a guy who worked for Post Office building & maintenance. When it all changed he tried being self-employed. He’d do things like measuring & cutting in haste so timber ended up too short, wasted. He was used to no consequences, just go to the store and get another one, no worries. Is that how council services run now? If so I can imagine why this change will lead to lower charges, otherwise paying enough for outsiders to make a profit doesn’t “add up”.

    • That is a very small cost saving – barely worth the exercise. Obviously other Council agendas are at work here.

      • I notice the newspaper takes the higher figure (not $300,000) for a potential cost saving. Meanwhile, DCC increases its spend on DVML, harp harp.

        Full coverage at ODT tomorrow – they better get their critical hats on BIGTIME and not just take the DCC party line as a given ~!!!

        ### ODT Online Mon, 6 May 2013
        DCC cost-cutting plan affects 30 staff
        By Rosie Manins
        Thirty staff would no longer be employed by the Dunedin City Council under a plan to save $550,000 a year by contracting out servicing of waste and water infrastructure. The contractor would be obliged to employ the 30 staff affected if the plan goes ahead. Those employees and two managers have been asked to provide feedback on the council’s proposal, which was today released to media by chief executive Paul Orders. They have until June 4 to make submissions before the council’s executive management team decides whether to implement the plan.

        Mr Orders said the council faced an extra $30 million in maintenance and renewal costs for its ageing waste and water infrastructure over the next decade.

        Contracting the servicing of that infrastructure was part of ensuring ratepayers did not face rates increases of more than 3% each year, he said.
        ODT Link

        • I’ve added a profile at the bottom of the DCC media release, and comment to NZ Herald in 2010…

          Whippet has a point re privatisation, a point that is also well made by others in recent times at What if?

          Rob Hamlin has posted various comments in relation to our community-owned assets, worth recalling:

          27.6.12 Insuring infrastructure assets

          29.5.12 Assets: city water and sewage system

          2.11.11 SCF, DCHL, threat to council assets

          19.10.11 Feral ‘Great and the Good’ (G&G) motives

          19.10.11 The Delta CCTO/CCO option

          13.4.11 Water and sewage are natural monopolies

          24.1.11 Water, as a basic necessity

          16.1.11 Dear Richard… “the primary responsibility of Council”

        • ### ch9.co.nz May 6, 2013 – 7:24pm
          DCC considering outsourcing work
          The DCC is considering out-sourcing the work of more than 30 of its staff. The council’s chief executive says the move will save ratepayers up to half a million dollars a year. But he says despite promises staff will be transferred on existing terms and conditions, he understands they will be worried about their future.

        • ### ODT Online Tue, 7 May 2013
          30 jobs to go to contract
          By Rosie Manins
          Thirty Dunedin City Council staff will be transferred to a contractor under the first phase of an overhaul of the council’s water and waste services unit. The overhaul could also include redundancies from the unit later this year. The 30 labourers maintain and repair the council’s water and wastewater infrastructure, dealing with floods, blocks, leaks and other on-site jobs. This work will be contracted out by the council if its executive management team approves a proposal being considered by affected staff. The 30 workers will be employed under existing terms and conditions by a successful contractor as part of its agreement with the council, although chief executive Paul Orders confirmed that deal was only valid ”at the point of transfer”. ”It will then be up to the staff and their new employer to negotiate terms and conditions.”
          Read more

        • ### ODT Online Sun, 12 May 2013
          Union says council workers fobbed off over contracting
          By Rosie Manins
          Dunedin City Council staff facing job transfers under a waste and water services proposal have been ”fobbed off”, the Amalgamated Workers Union New Zealand says. Thirty water and wastewater technicians will be employed by a contractor if the council’s executive management team approves a proposal to outsource their jobs in an effort to save money. The roles of a further two council staff will change under the proposal. Of those affected, 28 were members of the Amalgamated Workers Union New Zealand Southern branch.

          Union representative Stephen Scandrett, of Dunedin, said workers were dismayed by the council’s ”clinical and contradictory manner” in publicly releasing details of the proposal this week.

          Many of the affected staff had been long-serving council employees and were made to feel ”like a commodity”, he said. ”They are and have been extremely loyal to this council. They are a highly skilled and qualified workforce working in an environment of deferred capital expenditure, no positive direction and a management structure that has ballooned.”
          Read more

        • ### ch9.co.nz June 18, 2013 – 6:55pm
          Council affirms outsourcing of jobs
          The DCC has confirmed it will move ahead with a decision to outsource the jobs of 30 staff at its Midland Street depot.


          Dunedin City Council – Media Release
          DCC to Proceed with Outsourcing Network Maintenance

          This item was published on 18 Jun 2013.

          Following consultation, the Dunedin City Council has decided to outsource its water and wastewater network maintenance.

          The DCC’s Executive Management Team has decided to proceed with the outsourcing proposal released last month, with some minor changes arising from staff submissions. These relate to keeping the maintenance of pressure-reducing valves in-house. The original proposal was for 30 staff to be transferred to a contractor on their existing terms and conditions of employment. The roles of two other staff would change, with redeployment options to be discussed. DCC Water and Waste Services Manager Dr Laura McElhone says, “We understand this is a difficult time for staff. We recognise that their skill, experience and knowledge are important to maintaining the network for the city’s future benefit. We are working constructively with the unions and will continue to do so during the transfer process.”

          Amalgamated Workers Union NZ official Stephen Scandrett says, “Contracting out or outsourcing always has the potential for workers to be disadvantaged in respect to ongoing employment and conditions of employment; or employment at all. Given Council has reached this decision, we will be working with Council to ensure the impact of Council’s decision on members is minimised.”

          To ensure there would be sufficient interest from suitably experienced contractors in taking on the network maintenance contract, expressions of interest were sought. Six expressions of interest were received and Dr McElhone says the potential contractors showed a “depth and breadth of experience to deliver the services”. Four contractors have been shortlisted to proceed to the request for proposals stage. These are: City Care, Downer, Fulton Hogan and Veolia.

          Contact Water and Waste Services Manager on 477 4000.
          DCC Link

        • ### ODT Online Wed, 19 Jun 2013
          Water and waste change
          By Eileen Goodwin
          Water and wastewater network maintenance will be outsourced to an outside provider, the Dunedin City Council announced yesterday. The decision follows a consultation process. City operations general manager Tony Avery said 30 water and wastewater maintenance workers at the Turakina Rd depot would transfer to an external employer. […] At a media conference, council chief executive Paul Orders acknowledged it was stressful for staff, who were told yesterday.
          Read more

  10. Robert Hamlin

    Let me explain this in simple language:

    1) DCHL was forced to swallow the Stadium poison pill. Paying $225 million for an asset that was worthless, non convertible and a chronic lossmaker.

    2) DCHL needs an antidote to this poison pill, and it needs it fast. The antidote is the opposite of the poison.An asset that is worth far more than its nominal transfer price to the DCC and that can actually generate significant real profits.

    3) DCC has only one antidote in the drugs cabinet, the three waters asset. It matters not one jot what the Three Waters Working Group say. The patient is about to expire and the antidote needs to be administered pronto. There is no alternative if the true fiscal situation is not to be embarrassingly revealed – and we don’t want that now do we? – At least not before November.

    4) However, the antidote is a class 1 politically proscribed drug. No worries. Just as VIAGRA was rebranded as AVIGRA, the antidote pill can be disguised and moved around. In this initial case as an ‘outsourcing’ arrangement. The antidote pill in various disguises will be transferred from one glass to another with bewildering speed until the magic moment when the audience’s eyes are distracted – when it will be swiftly quaffed by the grateful patient.

    5) Matters can then be arranged so that various additional ‘bonuses’ can be acquired. The DCC can recognise a ‘profit’ on the assets transfer to DCHL (As in the Foobar ‘purchase’ by DCHL – $9 million remember?). I have no doubt that in this case the ‘profit’ will more than cover the rebuild of Carisbrook to pro-rugby’s required standards and the astroturfing of the Foobar when the ‘OOPS!’ moment arrives and the FIFA Soccer event and Highlanders are double-booked into the Foobar next year. I have heard whispers that the FIFA event may be back on the DCC ratepayer ‘tit’. Carisbrook also remains pristine, and as far as I know not formally in the hands of Calder Stewart (not that that’s any protection at all while the grass remains pristine).

    6) Who eventually pays the bill? – You do, when your rates are higher than they are now and you also are getting a $400 monthly water bill in your mail box and water (and worse) is pissing out down the road as the pipes rust out. This will of course not be happening in Wanaka where what was your cash will actually be residing.

  11. Anonymous

    This council was once run by visionaries. Now it is run by corrupt madmen with flawed visions. This is all about lining pockets and the council’s position is propaganda at its lowest.

    There are two sides of the argument for replacing the council but Farsignted is correct in that they must remove this council now. Waiting for the next election just gives them more time to stamp their golden tickets.

    Submitted by farsighted on Mon, 06/05/2013 – 8:10am.
    Dissolve Council. Appoint a Commissioner. Do it now.

  12. Anonymous

    Rob is correct in the sense that Water & Waste is the only salvation for the debt crisis. Since a territorial local authority cannot use its water and waste assets as security for anything, we can safely assume that they have not been used as leverage for borrowing. This means that no bank has any claim on them, therefore even selling them off would be the only way to reduce the debt burden effectively. The City Property Portfolio is the only other such asset. In any other scenario, liquidating an asset cannot be done as it is only leveraged against the principal of the debt, not the compounded interest.

  13. Anon; The City Property portfolio ought to be the first up on the block. The sale of all non strategic properties could realise in the vicinity of $90 to $115 million in my estimation. A $100m reduction of the stadium debt would make a monumental difference to the city’s finances. In a word, a divestment with the added bonus of shutting down City Property with its associated overheads. Something I have already suggested to Dave Cull and Paul Orders. Dave Cull couldn’t see the logic here. His reply was “These properties are showing good returns so why would we sell them?” Say no more, the returns are no more than a figment of Mr Clark’s imagination.
    On the other hand, water and waste services are strategic, and very much in the interests of the citizens that they remain in social control. Contract out the maintenance by all means but retain in-house the technical ability to oversee the costs/value ratios of the work. We have already been taken to the cleaners enough by Jim Harland’s move of disestabishing the remnants of our in-house engineering. Look at the St Clair Sea Wall for one example. The Pipeline outfall is another cost blowout, and God knows how the Tahuna Upgrade finishes up.
    Besides, the water and waste services have an estimated below ground plus treatment etc value in $billions. How would you arrive at transfer value here? If, for instance, it was transferred to Delta/DCHL and treated like the other assets and just charged interest. How would DCHL come up with around $60m pa at say 5%? Get real. The only way would be for Delta to charge like a wounded bull for all services. Either way, it is only a shifting of the deck chairs kind of exercise. The ownership should stay exactly where it is. But no doubt some, if not all of the dopes around that table will be conned and watch the ratepayers get shafted then. We just can’t trust them to do the right thing.

  14. Anonymous

    It puzzles me why a full-scale liquidation of City Property assets is not underway. As you point out (and has been independently discovered in the case of Wall St), the returns are mostly imaginary.

  15. Whippet

    Quote from Mr Orders in today’s ODT:
    ‘Contracting services would save between $300,000 and $500,000 a year, avoid the need for further investment of about $590,000, AND SEE ASSETS WORTH ABOUT $900,000 SOLD.’
    Privatisation here we come.

  16. Mike

    given the small size of the $900k figure I think that means they would sell the ditch diggers and other such equipment to whomever gets the contract (rather than the pipes) – but well done Rob for guessing the short term budget-gaming implications

  17. Hype O'Thermia

    “Begorrah, that’s a lot of expensive wheelbarrows,” said Paddy.

  18. Tomo

    The only reason for any consideration to sell anything, is because of the council’s debt. How was this debt created? The Stadium. Who authorised the stadium? The same councillors that are now going to sell the family silver to pay off the debt they created in the first place.

  19. Whippet; Privatisation here we come. I don’t think so. If the recent report about the state of the water/sewerage below ground infrastructure is only half right, the forward costs are huge and speculative. On that basis what commercial enterprise would want a bar of it? It is not like you can walk around it, kick its tyres, check out its paintwork or lift its bonnet. No, it would be pure conjecture as to the condition and that’s a fact. I believe it is unsaleable and belongs with us for better or worse. Probably the latter.

  20. Whippet

    Calvin. Privatisation of the water/sewerage would be a deal made in heaven for any commercial enterprise. With the rundown state of the infrastructure, commercial enterprise would be rubbing their hands with glee. All that work that needs to be done (and the huge profits for doing it) to bring it up to working order.
    No need to go to the bank for a loan, just keep putting the price of water up to the captive user. The ratepayer. They have no option but to pay up or lose it. Just imagine the queue at the Speight’s water tap. Mum, dad, kids & the cat and dog, all with their water containers. You had better hurry down there Calvin before the queue gets to long. Mind you, you could always kick a few tyres, and check out the paintwork while you wait.

  21. Whippet; I hear what you are saying, but Paul Orders would know the ramifications for the citizens, even if the other ‘muppets’ couldn’t. Wouldn’t he???

  22. Whippet

    Calvin. Councillors set the policy. Paul Orders Administers the policy. If councilors say ‘reduce debt’ and set no boundaries (as they have done) then everything is fair game. At the end of the day if Mr Orders can reduce Dunedin’s debt, by fair or foul means then he has done what he was employed to do, and when he moves on, that achievement (mission impossible) will look good on his cv. He is the type of administrator that could run any business any day, and name his price. The queue for his services would be longer than at the Speight’s water tap.

  23. Anonymous

    It is also a cunning way to reduce head counts and only slightly more aggressive than the non-replacement and sinking-lid employment policies. The method above chosen by Paul Orders also moves the cut-throat decisions and psychological damage for the other party to deal with. We all know who is bleeding Delta so he and its human resources department are likely to show the usual empathy for the actual people being thrown at them.

    Expect a few “we care, we really, truly, care, but sorry, you must go” stories in the ODT and the usual absence of stories about “another public chief executive getting a massive salary, creating jobs for his executive buddies and helping a stakeholder or two out”.


  24. Anonymous

    How many locally-based utility companies could put in a tender?

  25. It would make sense for Delta to be the successful tenderer as it would keep the merry go round ‘in house’. If it enhanced Delta’s balance sheet then the DCC’s dividends would be safer. If it goes outside, so do the rewards, not unlike Key’s idea of selling down (robbing) taxpayers’ investment in the power companies. It just transfers wealth from the citizen/taxpayers to the ‘fat cats’ who are very often offshore. I know that is socialism (a dirty word to many) but in these instances, to me it makes sense for the society to be part of and to an extent in control of strategic assets. Non strategic – like investment property portfolios – are fair game and central and local governments should have no part in them.

  26. THINK. CORRUPTED. INFRASTRUCTURE. If Anon you mean Delta, then that is a management problem. Deal to that first, not send all our in-house work elsewhere. That is where Paul Orders’ influence could be applied. I don’t think he has a slash and burn approach, rather a ‘softly softly catchee monkey’ style. I actually have a lot of faith in him as a straight shooter. More than we could say for the last shower.

  27. Elizabeth; that’s what I said. Fix that and the rest could fall into place. That is where I see Paul Orders’ insight coming into play. I know that technically, the DCHL group is outside the DCC’s influence, but let’s not forget who the one and only shareholder is. You have to believe he has a handle on the crap that has gone down within that group by now. Even the change of directors have made as much impact as any bunch of self opinionated greed merchants would.

    • Just making the distinction between governance and management, Calvin – since DCC itself continually blurs that same important distinction – and we lose, we lose lots and lots of money because of it.

  28. Talking about governance, on a totally different line, I see the Malaysian people are unhappy with their election results. Claim ballot fraud. Common enough around the world these days. Here at home we hear that the asset sales referendum has over 30% of invalid votes. Spot the difference?

    • [referendum] I and others know we inadvertently signed in the street twice across some months (in different years) – for starters (poor memories). No guards in place to prevent that.

  29. Whippet

    I suggest that you read CEO Paul Orders reply to Syd Adie in today’s ODT twice. The second time read between the lines. It is written like it should be, by someone who takes the orders from councillors and implements them. Councilors can hide behind this, as they are, and change policy any time they like. This reply to Syd is just another trap set by the privatisation mob on council, to lull you into thinking that nothing will change, and it won’t either. Until after the elections. The only way that you will stop this privatisation mob is to vote for change at the next elections.

  30. Hype O'Thermia

    Yes, effectively it was “we don’t have water metering on the job-sheet NOW” followed by a big silent “BUT…..” .

  31. Whippet

    You are on to it Hype

  32. Phil

    I don’t have a huge problem with water metering, providing it is being paid for fairly and equally. We were 2 people in a large house of an above average value. We paid more in our rates for water than our neighbours who lived in a smaller house of lower value with 4 teeneage kids. Our water consumption was maybe 1/3 of that of our neighbour. Having consequences for excessive water consumption can help people to consider excessive water useage. Having been metered in the past, we were given 1 unit of water (1 cubic metre, or 1,000 litres) free per day. We paid for daily water useage beyond that 1 cubic metre. 1 unit is quite a lot and allows for 2 hours of showers every day. We struggled to use our free allocation. So it wasn’t like people were going to be dying of thirst because they had no money. The right to water is a right. The right to excessive water consumption is not a right.

    As I mentioned at the start, I have no problem in paying for my water consumption. HOWEVER, I will expect that the entire portion of my rates allocated to water services be removed from my rates bill. My biggest concern with this Council is that water metering will be used to gather additional revenue rather than to replace an existing revenue source. For that reason alone I am hesitant.

  33. We will have a newly elected council soon. It would be unwise for a CEO to give any assurances as to what policies that council might implement. And I’m with Phil. I have no problem per se with paying for the water we use. Ditto for rubbish (except I think there is still a standing cost, in addition to the fee for the bag we put out every 5-6 weeks?).

  34. ### ODT Online Sun, 9 Jun 2013
    Council quiet on feedback
    By Rosie Manins
    The Dunedin City Council is revealing nothing about feedback received on its proposal to contract out maintenance of its water and wastewater network after submissions on the proposal closed this week. DCC water and waste services manager Laura McElhone, who helped write the proposal, would not reveal how many submissions were received.
    Read more

  35. ### ODT Online Sat, 12 Oct 2013
    Chch firm tipped to get work
    By Chris Morris
    The Dunedin City Council appears poised to outsource part of its water maintenance work, and 30 of its staff, to Christchurch City Council-owned company City Care.
    The Otago Daily Times understands a final decision on the proposal is expected to be made at a meeting of the council’s executive management team on Tuesday. Staff will be informed of the outcome the following morning, and a public announcement is due hours later.
    Most of the details were confirmed by council infrastructure and services general manager Tony Avery yesterday, following a tip-off to the newspaper from an anonymous council water and waste services employee.
    Mr Avery would not comment on, or rule out, ”speculation” City Care was poised to be named as the successful company bidding for the work. More than one company remained in the running at this stage, he said.
    The worker – who would not be named for fear of losing his job – told the ODT he and his colleagues understood City Care was the successful tenderer.
    A shortlist of four companies bidding for the work had been whittled down after French-owned Veolia and Fulton Hogan either withdrew or missed out, he said. That left City Care and Downer in the running, and City Care vehicles had recently been spotted at the Tahuna wastewater treatment plant, the man said.
    Read more

    Related comments at another thread:

    Calvin Oaten 28.6.13

    Elizabeth 28.6.13

      • ### ODT Online Fri, 6 Dec 2013
        Christchurch firm gets Dunedin water contract
        Christchurch-based company City Care has been awarded the tender to maintain Dunedin’s water and wastewater network, in a decision that affects 30 Dunedin City Council staff. It was not yet known if there would be redundancies.
        Read more

        • Dunedin City Council – Media Release
          City Care Confirmed as Contractor

          This item was published on 06 Dec 2013.

          City Care has been awarded the tender to maintain Dunedin’s water and wastewater network.
          DCC Group Manager Water and Waste Laura McElhone says City Care, a Christchurch City Council-owned company, currently maintains water and drainage networks serving 1.5 million New Zealanders.

          “We are confident City Care will deliver a step change improvement in service levels, while delivering considerable savings to ratepayers and improving our understanding of our assets so we can plan better for the future.”

          The contract, which starts on 28 February 2014, is expected to deliver annual savings of at least $350,000. The annual contract value is $4.6 million a year, with an additional $159,000 of transition costs in the first year.
          City Care employees will carry out the maintenance work on the water and wastewater network, such as turning up to fix a burst water main or a blocked sewer.
          City Care’s General Manager National Maintenance Tim Gibson says the company is looking forward to working with the DCC and to establishing a presence in the region.

          “City Care is a leading New Zealand provider of construction, maintenance and management services with a national footprint and a large workforce. We’ve recently extended our service offerings to include building construction, complementing our full suite of infrastructure services.”

          The decision to outsource water and wastewater network maintenance affects 30 DCC staff. All staff that transfer to City Care will be transferred on their existing terms and conditions of employment under a collective agreement.
          Dr McElhone says it is not known at this stage if there will be redundancies and the DCC is continuing to work constructively with the unions. She emphasised the jobs which would be transferred would remain in Dunedin. City Care will be setting up a depot in the city.
          The DCC’s Executive Leadership Team (ELT) awarded the tender to City Care last week. Dr McElhone says the contract has an eight-year term, provided that contract performance measures are met, because that provided better value.
          As well as cost savings, the contract will deliver other considerable benefits. These include more assessment of sewer pipe condition through the dedicated use of specialist equipment, which will enable better renewal planning. It will also allow more wastewater and stormwater sewers to be cleaned regularly, which will reduce the risk of flooding, as well as reducing the amount of sediment reaching the Otago Harbour.
          City Care also has more advanced IT systems than the Water and Waste Services business unit, such as hand-held computers in the field, which will lead to better customer service.
          For more information

          Dr Laura McElhone
          Water and Waste Services Manager
          Tel 474 4000

          In September last year, the Council decided not to create a CCO for water, wastewater and stormwater. Following that decision, all elements of water and wastewater services were reviewed to identify opportunities for improvement.
          Key findings of the review included that the DCC was delivering required levels of service, but that costs were high compared to other New Zealand cities.
          The outsourcing proposal arose from a review of the Water and Waste Services business unit, which was carried out to look at ways to reduce costs to ratepayers while maintaining or improving service levels.
          In June, the DCC announced four contractors had been shortlisted to proceed to the request for proposals stage. In October, City Care emerged as the leading contractor.

          Key points of the outsourcing decision are:

          ● The DCC retains full ownership and control over the water and waste services network. The change to outsourcing will not affect service delivery or public accountability.
          ● Most other councils contract out network maintenance. About 75% of New Zealand’s water maintenance work is either contracted out or carried out by a Council Controlled Organisation (CCO).
          ● Annual savings of $350,000 to $500,000 are expected when all of the water and wastewater network maintenance is contracted out.

          The only work to be outsourced will be maintenance relating to the water and wastewater pipes.
          What will remain in-house are all aspects of the network that ensure residents receive good quality drinking water. This includes operation and maintenance of the treatment plants and pumping stations, and all asset planning and investment decisions.
          DCC Link

        • ### dunedintv.co.nz December 6, 2013 – 7:03pm
          Christchurch firm to maintain Dunedin’s water and waste water networks
          Final confirmation has come a Christchurch City Council-owned firm has taken a multi-million dollar contract to maintain the Dunedin City Council’s water and waste-water network. The change affects 30 council staff in Dunedin, though most are expected to either go to the new company, or stay within the council.

        • Trust our council to get half a message right. “Exports are good for the economy”, they got that bit. More sophisticated thinkers know the (usually accepted as being bleeding obvious, not needing to be stated) second part: “except when the exports are money and jobs”.

        • Wondering if DCC top shelf know more than they’re letting on about the current/future status of Delta – therefore, avoidance.

  36. Another example of bureaucratic stupidity. [The] DCC waste and water services manager decides in [their] wisdom that the bottom line is all that counts. Never mind that the front runner for the maintenance contract is a Christchurch Delta look alike (probably equally mismanaged and likely to go the same way), cheaper than our Delta and local private Fulton Hogan Ltd (with a proven record for efficiency), with no consideration for local jobs. It is the same ‘blank intellect’ that brought us the Hillside demise. Just where these sad people get their authority from is a constant mystery. If ever there was a need for Mayor and the new council to step up to the plate and take control then now is it.

    {Moderated. -Eds}

  37. Anonymous

    People are actually flabbergasted over this. So in disbelief that many are lost for words. The only thing few of those people are not surprised about is that it continues to occur with this out of control council. Too many of the bureaucrats believe in their own madness and dismiss those at the coal face as acceptable losses in their rush to change one side of the ledger. Outsourcing is a repugnant concept, embraced by a new generation of closet narcissists and abused by the wealthy driven by greed. The council should not be sending jobs elsewhere and clearly it is still not working in the best interests of the city. If this is the only solution a council manager can think up then it is time the council returning to hiring staff who can see the wider picture by investing locally.

    • Anonymous and Calvin please copy Paul Orders with your comments here, as is.

      • Believe it or not…

        Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull defended the selection of a Christchurch-based company yesterday, saying there were “no local companies that could do it”.

        ### ODT Online Thu, 17 Oct 2013
        Few water job losses, DCC says
        By Chris Morris
        A small number of redundancies are expected as the Dunedin City Council moves to outsource some of its water maintenance work to Christchurch City Council-owned City Care. However, council staff said most of the up to 30 workers affected by the outsourcing plan were expected to secure new jobs within City Care. Others were expected to remain with the council to keep key reservoir, pressure valve and other maintenance skills in-house.
        Read more

    • ### dunedintv.co.nz October 16, 2013 – 7:01pm
      Christchurch City Council-owned company only company left in the race
      A Christchurch City Council-owned company has been confirmed as the only company left in the race for a contract to maintain Dunedin’s water and waste-water network.

  38. Anonymous

    A small number of workers would be retained by the council, and a ”very small” number made redundant, as a result of the outsourcing proposal, she said.

    There’s no such thing as small if even one person loses their job. The consequences are massive.

    ### ODT Online Thu, 17 Oct 2013
    Few water job losses, DCC says
    By Chris Morris
    A small number of redundancies are expected as the Dunedin City Council moves to outsource some of its water maintenance work to Christchurch City Council-owned City Care.
    Read more

  39. And a ‘small amount of Dunedin’s treasure’ will be exported to Christchurch to pay for this cost reduction? Jobs and money add up to nothing in real savings for the ratepayers, just a further erosion of the city’s viability.

  40. Anonymous

    Just feel the kindness the Oddity extended the DCC… use of unnecessary words and the downplay of severity. The first paragraph could have just as easily said:

    Redundancies are expected as the Dunedin City Council moves to outsource some of its water maintenance work to Christchurch.

    A small thing readers, nothing to worry about here. Isn’t there something you need to be looking at on Youtube?

  41. Hey! that’s great. An economic benefit to the city of $4.6 million. Oops! sorry, it’s $4.6m to Christchurch isn’t it? So, that’s $44.6m exported from Dunedin in return for fixing our plumbing. Hmmm…. why does that seem strange, when Dave and John are aiming to create 10,000 new jobs and a $10,000 increase in the median income in the next ten years? Great start for [the group manager water and waste], don’t tackle a local problem cos’ it’s too hard, just buy a solution. Maybe that is what’s wrong with Dunedin. Too many doctors, not enough calloused hands.

    {Moderated. -Eds}

  42. Anonymous

    Commencement date for the contract, which is expected to deliver annual savings of at least $350,000, is February 28 next year.

    As if the condition of the roads weren’t bad enough already. Can anyone calculate what this out-sourcing, job losses and “savings” will produce in additional pot-holes, deferred maintenance and ignored roads?

    Savings? Bull. Shit. It only creates greater problems with this council.

    • Future uncertain for water staff
      The Dunedin City Council has confirmed Christchurch City Council-owned company City Care has been awarded the tender to maintain Dunedin’s water and wastewater network.

      • Anonymous

        Yep, the first couple of years will be stunning – “We told you so!” – and then it goes to custard rapidly. Reduced focus, reduced staff, reduced equipment, reduced service. That goes on for about five years. Then people take notice. That’s two years. Somewhere along the line a new CEO will realise it’s “no longer the service expected” and lifts the head on the record and puts it back to the start. Queue council messages about saving money and behind the scenes some waving the advertising budget in front of the media to remind them of their place in the cycle.

        Meanwhile you and I get to dodge pot-holes and re-filled re-filled holes.

        Thank Eion* and Farry* for the Stadium.

        * Their chaffeurs will have received military-grade training for pot-hole avoidance while passing through Dunedin and these two will be unaware of the meaning behind this current cost-saving association.

  43. Anonymous

    I often wonder what will be the trigger event to finally push people to that action. It’s been close on occasion. I guess the council is still only being seen to snip at essential services and the ODT-COC affair continues to minimise reporting about job losses. The news threshold is 50-70+ jobs now isn’t it? They keep hoping nobody will connect that frightening issue of 1-3+ jobs being lost from many workplaces. There won’t be enough Yellow Pages type jobs left for the Select vultures to offer us shortly.

  44. ### dunedintv.co.nz February 28, 2014 – 6:54pm
    CCC-owned firm taking over tomorrow
    A Christchurch City Council-owned firm will begin maintaining the Dunedin City Council’s water and waste-water network from tomorrow.

    • ### ODT Online Sat, 1 Mar 2014
      City Care contract takes effect today
      Christchurch City Council-owned company City Care takes over maintenance of Dunedin’s water and wastewater network from today. The main difference the public would see was vehicles branded with the City Care logo attending to network problems such as burst water mains or blocked sewers.
      People should still call the DCC’s customer services agency on (03) 477-4000 to report any issues and would still be dealing with DCC staff if they had specific complaints or queries.
      DCC staff would remain responsible for looking after treatment plants, pumping stations and water reservoirs.
      Read more

  45. Anonymous

    Dirty scumsucking moneyraking fraudulent pack of crooks at this council.

    First they sneak in water metering. Then they want to use it for paying off their stadium…

    Fraudulent scumsucking pack of bastards – they’ve all creamed millions off of this rort and now they’re sitting back and letting the ratepayers pay for their bloody fraud.

    … and they expect everyone to be able to afford 50c per litre over and above an abysmal 45 litres per day?


    Bloody corrupt council. Dunedin City Council: You suck!


  46. Down with the last shower. RIP.

  47. Anybody heard of “April Fools Day”?

    • Russell Garbutt

      Truly staggering numbers on ODT online that were sucked in to this story for April 1st. NZ Herald ran a good one about Geoff Robinson being selected as an MP for Kim Dotcom. But intriguing to see that people would believe this of the DCC. If only they had done one on bikes in cycle lanes…….

    • Anonymous

      Yes, but what can I say? The Otago Daily Times and the Dunedin City Council still think nearly a billion dollars in ratepayer debt is a joke.

      • Anonymous, your point is most profound. Who cares, the Royals are coming to town. Once again the public get slamdunked at the stadium. I’m sure the ODT-Stand-Sponsor will be all over it to sell newspapers.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      It’s a good one this year, the real catch being that the council has come up with so many irresponsible ways of pillaging the ratepayers’ pockets it’s not much different from reality here in Fubarville.
      I’m not surprised people believe it.
      Today it’s a joke. A few months from now, though ???

  48. I think Rob Fischer fell for the April Fool’s joke last year too. Doh.

  49. Further, it casts some ‘members’ of antistadia in a rather poor unsuspicious light.

  50. Reckless on Meter removal
    I called the council after finding a meter outside my house.
    They said to just pull it out of the ground and leave it for
    workmen who will begin collecting them at 12.00pm.


  51. jeff dickie

    The serious side to this is that in Dunedin, what starts out as a Fool’s Day joke has a habit of becoming a reality! Think of the stadium, the 28 storey hotel, and now the water. It is certain the DCC will sell off water to reduce the staggering $624M debt. Why has DCC Water being installing water meters for years? Maybe the joke is not on those who believed this 1st April hoax!

    • With Stuart McLauchlan whispering sweet nothings in Mayor Daaave’s ear, of course we will pay for our water sooner rather than later (3 Waters strategy, people!).

      Plus he’ll sell the water treatment plants to the Chinese so they can “add value”. Just like Fonterra, and the smaller dairy processor sell-outs like Synlait. New Zealand is dumb. Dunedin is dumb and dumber.

      • Anonymous

        I believe the ODT went too far with this April Fool’s joke. It really should avoid mocking something it knows to be a contentious issue affecting the city’s ratepayers, particularly as it has the potential to upset its own readership. A joke has certainly gone too far when it starts costing time and money for the services it affects. A lot of concerned people probably called the council and while that may appear somewhat funny at first, it’s not when you’re the person getting it on the phone. If you feel the same way you might like to save yourself a couple of dollars each day by making your position on this felt.

        To me this whole stupid business feels like the spooks at DCC engaged the ODT to test broader reaction to water charging. While there were a lot of mocking comments made at ODT Online about its timing, it also demonstrated how shortsighted and trusting people are towards a council who has long since stopped working in their best interests.

        Excepting a typo in the 50c per litre it could just have been “news”.

  52. John P.Evans, concerned citizen

    An April Fool’s joke is normally an outrageous suggestion that could not possibly happen, believed by a few. What this demonstrates is that the public (including me) have zero trust in the DCC and its plans and ambitions and believed that there was indeed a possibility that dumb and dumber might introduce such a crazy solution. The brothers Grimm, might even have suggested that the boy who cried wolf was a publicist for the DCC.

    We are so inured towards stupidity, the stupider the suggestion the more likely it is to be true.

    Shakespeare could not have written the tragedy that is Dunedin today.

  53. Mike

    I’ve decided to avoid the ODT April fool thread – a few years ago I thought I’d join the fun, piling on, going over the top, acting the aggrieved ratepayer, but carefully crafting the first letter of every sentence to read “April Fool” ….. I was abridged, more fool me.

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