Dunedin City Council critic Calvin Oaten, in a piece he has also sent to the mayor and incoming council, proposes the city should be run on a ”no-growth basis”.
### ODT Online Thu, 24 Oct 2013
Dunedin, no-growth city?
By Calvin Oaten
Maybe a good starting point would be to review some recent history. The health of any community is unarguably based on its financial stability and its leaders being fully mindful of the need to protect the citizens’ treasure, spending it wisely, and quietly maintaining and improving their wellbeing.
Has this been the priority of our leaders over time? Recently it seems not. In fact one sometimes wonders if there is any comprehension at all of what is meant by good governance and prudence.
When I look at the long-term annual plan of 2003-04 I found the city’s net debt was $53.463 million and was scheduled to peak in 2011-12 at $147.466 million. Looking at it 10 years later, the 2013-14 plan shows the debt at $270.290 million. If we include stadium debt of $146 million, this comes to a total of $416.290 million. So, an increase over 10 years of $362.82 million. Does that indicate financial prudence?
Oh, and we should not forget DCHL’s contribution to our malaise. It has been extorted and mismanaged to the point where it and the DCC’s combined consolidated debt amounts to about $623 million. As shareholders, this by extension is ours. Think about that.
Dunedin has been in a slow, inexorable decline, whether we acknowledge it or not.
The statistics demonstrate this clearly and concisely. The 1901 census shows Dunedin’s population was 70,000 while New Zealand’s was 815,862. We were 8.5% of that total. In 1921 we were 81,848 souls and New Zealand 1,284,873. We were 6.3% of that total. Then in 1936, 82,000, 1950, 91,200 and in 2006, 118,683. Meanwhile, New Zealand in 2013 is 4,480,182. We are just 2.64% of that. Put another way, in 105 years Dunedin grew by 69%, while the country grew by 450%.
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