DCC Rates: LOCAL CONTEXT not Stats —Delta and Hippopotamuses

Election Year : The following opinion is offered in the public interest. -Eds

Monopoly [rdc.govt.nz]

“On almost every measure we provide a more extensive range of services for less money.” –Sue Bidrose

### ODT Online Sat, 30 Jan 2016
Dunedin rates value defended
By Vaughan Elder
Dunedin ratepayers are getting some of the best value for money in New Zealand, Dunedin City Council chief executive Sue Bidrose says. In response to questions from Cr Mike Lord during this week’s draft annual plan deliberations, chief executive Dr Bidrose said its residential rates – which in the 2015-16 year averaged $1996 per household – were in the lowest quarter in New Zealand and “certainly” the lowest among large cities.
Read more

ODT: Mayor defends rates increase

WRONG

█ At Tuesday’s pre-Draft Annual Plan meeting Cr Hilary Calvert put a direct question – on the public’s behalf – to the group manager water and waste services about the mudtanks at South Dunedin, referring to these as “the hippopotamus in the room” (or some other water-based mammal)…. The question was circumnavigated and passed to the new group manager transport who similarly went sailing. Link

█ Delta in 2015 paid DCC a dividend of $2.5M. Without this in future years there will be significant rate rises each year. –Christchurch Driver Link

One for SB, Dave, Councillors and Staff…
shimmers, lightness, fairy-like proportion, ratings, foils to decorum, tens, the completely ethereal

EllieGouldingVEVO Published on Dec 9, 2015
Ellie Goulding – Army (Live from the Victoria’s Secret 2015 Fashion Show)
From the new album DELIRIUM [latest release]
When I’m with you, I’m standing with an army….

[We’re required to be wowed.]

Related Posts and Comments:
29.1.16 Delta #EpicFail —Yaldhurst Subdivision ● Some forensics
28.1.16 New Zealand local government T-shirt #haze #corruption
25.1.16 DCC: South Dunedin Integrated Catchment Management Plan (ICMP)
21.1.16 Delta #EpicFail —Yaldhurst Subdivision
● 21.1.16 DCC LTAP 2016/17 budget discussion #ultrahelpfulhints
19.1.16 Listener 23.1.16 (letter): South Dunedin #Jun2015flood
16.1.16 NZ Listener 16.1.16 (letter): South Dunedin #Jun2015flood
12.1.16 Stone the freaking crows #SurfsUp #SeawallNightmares #Dunedin
11.1.16 Un hôtel. Dunedin.
10.1.16 Infrastructure ‘open to facile misinterpretation’…. or local ignore
8.1.16 Jafas, come hither…. it’s alright here if warped
5.1.16 Hammered from all sides #fixit [dunedinflood Jun2015]
15.12.15 Noble property subdivision aka Yaldhurst Village | Mortgagee Tender
21.9.15 DCC: Not shite (?) hitting the fan but DVL
20.7.15 Noble property subdivision —DELTA #LGOIMA
1.4.15 Christchurch subdivisions: Heat gone?
24.3.15 Noble property subdivision —DELTA
23.3.15 Noble property subdivision: “Denials suggest that we have not learned.”
17.3.15 DCC —Delta, Jacks Point Luggate II…. Noble property subdivision

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

hoopla words….

TheWeekndVEVO Published on Dec 9, 2015
The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face (Live From The Victoria’s Secret 2015 Fashion Show)

TheWeekndVEVO Published on Dec 9, 2015
The Weeknd – In The Night (Live From The Victoria’s Secret 2015 Fashion Show)

last word (valediction)

EllieGouldingVEVO Published on Dec 9, 2015
Love Me Like You Do – From “Fifty Shades Of Grey” (Live From The Victoria’s Secret 2015 Fashion Show)
From the new album DELIRIUM
Yeah, I’ll let you set the pace ’cause I’m not thinking straight

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121 Comments

Filed under Business, DCC, Delta, Democracy, Dunedin, Economics, Infrastructure, Media, Name, New Zealand, People, Pet projects, Politics, Project management, Property, South Dunedin, Travesty

121 responses to “DCC Rates: LOCAL CONTEXT not Stats —Delta and Hippopotamuses

  1. Calvin Oaten

    As the saying goes, ‘there are lies damn lies and statistics’. I have long since gone past believing anything from that building as gospel. So, the average household pays $1996. Beaut! The fact that this is a low decile city makes that OK? Not when you look at the increases coming down the track, the consolidated debt (of over $11,500 per ratepayer) with its interest costs plus the direct and indirect subsidies gouged out from the council’s moneybox by the Stadium, Conference Centre and Otago Settlers Museum just to keep them afloat. I think CEO Sue Bidrose must have got a set of very rose tinted glasses for Xmas or else she is in a $360,000 pa bubble of euphoric bewilderment. Dave Cull on the other hand has been there ever since he walked in the door.

  2. Diane Yeldon

    Apart from what this year’s rates increase is, I think it is extremely relevant what Dunedin ratepayers’ money is being spent on. There is little more futile, when it comes to managing money, than to spend money on non-essentials while paying big interest. There has been little public statement during these Annual Plan budget meetings about exactly how much the Dunedin City Council owes. Information about this is actually hard to get because some of the debt is owed by the Council Controlled Companies who can keep much of their business operations and status private (or secret) from councillors, let alone ratepayers. I noticed in the Significant Assumptions in the Annual Plan meeting reports that interest rates are assumed be around 6%. This is not a particularly high interest rate and the global financial system is currently highly volatile, to say the least. Oil prices are also extremely low at the moment, arguably politically manipulated and I think, since regardless of human squabbling oil is limited in supply, the costs may easily suddenly skyrocket. And this radio interview last election, estimated DCC debt at $350 million direct debt and about $300 million debt of the Council Controlled Companies. With these figures being disputed, of course. But the DCC has long been known to exercise financial obfuscation with robbing Peter to pay Paul and so on, using the Council Controlled Companies to totally block transparency, a very bad and undemocratic system, just begging to be abused. I doubt whether the debt is materially different from before last election, when the DCC owed about $650 million, a mind-boggling amount for a small city not exactly experiencing boom times. And what have we got to show for it? Nothing much really. And a lot of deferred (neglected) water infrastructure maintenance. Are voters really ging to let the same extremely unsafe drivers stay at the wheel? Or maybe there’s really just no-one driving. This city needs to get out of debt fast. Selling some assets to pay off debt is the only sensible approach. Not even mentioned in the supposed budget discussions.

  3. Calvin Oaten

    Diane; What about the idea of the “Citizens Bank’ as I proposed a year ago to resounding silence? It seems to me to make even more sense now as the world is heading for a major shake up of its financial ‘ponzis’, ‘pyramid’, ‘IRS’ and ‘derivative’ pigeons all likely to come home to roost.
    Too hard, to think about? For our intrepid councillors, it appears so.

    • Diane Yeldon

      Excellent idea, Calvin. Look what happened – is still happening – in Greece. The government got short of money so started pinching it out of ordinary citizens’ bank accounts! I’d rather do my financial dealings with someone local, not because I think local peopke are morally superior but because it’s possible for a group of other locals to go round and give them a good thumping if they try stealing their neighbours’ money. A strong incentive to honesty not availble in the murky waters of international banksters.

    • I think your idea of a locally owned bank makes so much sense. As a local business owner I would support this.

  4. Gurglars

    Diane, unfortunately selling assets merely reduces debt temporarily. The foxes still remain in the chookhouse and the debt increases initially arithmetically and then geometrically until all assets already paid for by ratepayers are gone.

    The only solution to the major debt problem is firstly to elect persons determined to eradicate the debt and maintain the assets and sell the liabilities.

    The only way to eradicate the DCC and ratepayers debt is to eliminate all activities which are non core and all activities which are completed and focus on maintenance of assets and core business being rubbish collection, water provision, bcommuter roading, and sewage treatment.

    An example of an activity which is completed is traffic lights. There are no street corners left.

    Dave Cull personally told me that “we need more staff”.

    What we need are proper staff, paid at a level which is acceptable to the ratepayers.

    What we don’t need is overpaid staff working on councillors’ pet projects that are not core service business. Savings of $20 million annually are possible if staff payment levels, perks, theft and unnecessary overseas travel were all managed correctly. Other savings would follow and we could then hire inhouse engineers and inhouse lawyers thus saving more millions.

    These savings put immediately into debt reduction would right the Dunedin ship.

    • Diane Yeldon

      Gurglars, good point. As long as the DCC is controlled by elected reps who have the problem of money burning a hole in their pocket, selling assets would just encourage further spending sprees. Hmm, i tend to have the problem of money burning a hole in my pocket myself, but at least it is mine and not OTHER PEOPLE’S! I think those managing other people’s money are morally obliged to be very conservative, unless speculation and wild gambles are explicitly agreed on. I notice that Dave Cull habitually puts the responsibilty for expenditure on the residents of Dunedin, as reported in the ODT along the lines of, “Well, the people told us they wanted a (fill in on dotted line). So we’re giving them one.”

  5. Rob Hamlin

    You may remember that the 2013/2014 report when released last year indicated that the DCC ‘made’ about 10 million bucks on its derivatives dabblings in the reported period – Which provoked a series of joyous meetings an gubernatorial pronouncements on how to spend that ‘windfall’.

    The latest report indicates that they lost about that same amount last year on derivatives. I have yet to hear Cull calling any meetings recently on how to ‘unspend’ stuff in order to save to match this unexpected ‘windrise’.

    The DCC financials this year are their usual mix of gibberish. This paragraph comes from page 151 if you have the patience to get that far:

    “Core Council term loans are secured by rates revenue. The term loans of the Dunedin City Holdings Limited group are secured by certain assets and undertakings of the group. The multi-option note facility has a borrowing limit of $850 million. Debt is raised by issuing long dated bonds or by the tender of promissory notes, usually issued for 90 day terms. Three independent banks have underwritten the facility up to $135 million. (2014 – $100 million).

    Under the multi-option facility cash is raised using two methods – promissory notes and bonds. The tender of promissory notes under the multi-option note facility generally raises debt for a term of 90 days before being re-tendered.

    This type of borrowing is executed at the floating rate at the date of borrowing and exposes the group to cash flow interest rate risk. Interest rate derivatives are taken out to manage that risk. The credit risk from each derivative is limited because the counterparties are banks with high credit ratings assigned by international credit rating agencies.”

    Those who have watched ‘The Big Short’ will recognise this line of patter, and identify it as an opportunity – but not for us. We are essentially exchanging the long-term certainty of a bond repayment for an unknown and amorphous mass of second, third …nth hand floating-rate derivative debt obligations of unknown quality. And we are personally liable for all of it.

    What is interesting here is how one makes/loses 10 million bucks plus over a year hedging promissory note borrowings that apparently have only a 90 day maturity (A quarter of that period). It indicates consistently winning or losing four bets in a row – or, more alarmingly, winning or losing more massive bets in each quarter than the eventual annualised net loss/gain suggests. Suggestions anyone?

    The events of 2007 showed that international credit ratings were not worth the paper that they are written on – and no decisive action appears to have been taken subsequently to change this situation. They thus in 2016 may be presumed to in no way mitigate the risk – which is impossible to quantify, but may well be extreme.

    Despite this exchange to our communal disadvantage, the DCC’s cost of ongoing borrowing, the supposed pay-off for it, still seems unusually high, given DCTL’s cast-iron access to the security of our back pockets and major household fixed asset granted via the DCC’s on-call capital commitment.

    Our obligations, as the security mentioned in line one of the quote above, to these eventual opportunistic derivatives trading ‘winners’ are essentially impossible to establish. The $850 million ‘borrowing limit’ (c. $20,000 per ratepayer) might well be the minimum, depending on how the layers of contracts within the ‘secured multi-option note facility’ black box have been written. Of the $593,574 of the DCC’s consolidated debt in the latest report, $586,817 (c. 99%) lie within this black box.

    Do not look for Jonky et al. for relief – Remember Kaipara – Winston did.

    • Calvin Oaten

      Rob, your frightening but realistic warnings of the precarious position DCTL/DCC has placed the ratepayers in, with its financial management, leaves one wondering where we’ll all be if the situation goes ‘turkey up’ as it threatens to do.
      You ask, suggestions anyone? What would you say to the Citizens Bank idea, where as quickly as practical the debt is taken in house and all connection to the ‘grey deep state’ is severed? It seemed possible given the right attitude and a definite separation of management from within. Just the fact of (at 6% interest) some $36million per year staying in the city’s money churn opposed to being exported to the trading banks and lost from our treasure ought to appeal. It seemed to me last year that it could be underwritten by the cashing up of the Waipori Fund ($70m) and the sale of all non strategic investment properties ($70 t0 $100m) thus allowing at a conservative ratio of 20% for ‘fractional reserve creation of credit’ by a licensed bank, sufficient to absorb the consolidated debt and have sufficient surplus to finance the daily requirements of the DCC/DCHL banking, would be feasible.
      All this of course would be resisted by the existing banking institutions, but I doubt it could be stopped if suitably funded. But last year in a submission to mayor and council it met with resounding silence. Too difficult I suspect.

      • Hype O'Thermia

        “But last year in a submission to mayor and council it met with resounding silence. Too difficult I suspect.”
        Calvin, you were putting forward a new idea to stale minds who can’t grasp the basic fact of household or business – or city – finances: when money’s tight stick ruthlessly to the essentials, say a firm No to demands for ice-creams. That’s how the smartest of the very very poor in this city and throughout NZ – throughout the world – manage to get from week to week without stealing or begging.
        You were pitching “how to manage money” to people the rest of the office staff wouldn’t have trusted to adequately manage the tea and biscuits supply, in any office I ever worked in.

      • Elizabeth

        Calvin, the citizen bank idea (which doesnt sound like a winner to me but other readers may see the argument) is unlikely to get any traction at all unless backed and led by people with suitable accreditation, proven experience, and immaculate industry knowledge and seniority, to provide the diligence for leaders and citizens to be convinced – ie subject to all substantial tests of workability and veracity.

        Not going to happen.

        In the meantime why not investigate (the invitation is open to All) the actual health of the ratepayer owned company Delta Utility Services Ltd, in connection to the land subdivision and financial dealings at Yaldhurst, Christchurch – which seems to be flying deep under the public radar and yet has significant exposure for Dunedin ratepayers.

        This is at least ‘to hand’ and measurable – when classed together with Luggate and Jacks Point – third time Very Unlucky. Same local players! 

        This would be of practical service to Dunedin ratepayers. Taking less than eternity to prove.

        • Calvin Oaten

          Elizabeth, isn’t it a fact that this city is already “backed and led by people with suitable accreditation, proven experience , immaculate industry knowledge and seniority, to provide the diligence for leaders and citizens to be convinced”? And look where we are. I rest my case.

        • Elizabeth

          You haven’t even started Calvin – the people in place now are not who I mean, OBVIOUSLY. Not even in the echelon. With respect, sweet dreams.

          So. Delta.

      • Diane Yeldon

        Calvin: what’s the difference between your idea and the already established Credit Union?

        • Diane Yeldon

          Apart from about 3%!

        • Calvin Oaten

          Diane, the difference is that the Credit Union is more like the old style Otago Savings Bank. Not specifically, nor offering anything to the DCC/DCHL. My suggestion is first and foremost, just that. After a period of time, once the consolidated debt has been reduced to a more comfortable level, and the city’s strategic infrastructure been rectified, then, and only then could its jurisdiction be widened and services offered to the citizens at large. I could foresee the time -perhaps decades down the track – where ‘the bank’ could be truly the Dunedin People’s Bank. It could offer full savings and investment facilities including home mortgage finance on properties within the boundaries of Dunedin. On a conservative basis of course, not just if you can ‘fog a mirror’ to qualify. Nothing wrong with a good dose of conservatism.
          If anyone was interested they could ‘google’ the North Dakota Peoples Bank USA. It was founded in 1919 as a protection for its (largely farming citizens) population who were in an agricultural downturn and being forced off their land by the usurious private banking institutions. Ninety seven years later it is the most solvent bank in the USA. The State of North Dakota is the only state in the union that is not technically bankrupt. It has over the years funded the state’s requirements in opposition to the private banks and has an impeccable record. Its obligations are to the people not shareholders. That is the difference.

        • Elizabeth

          Founded in 1919 is not today, Calvin, you’ll agree – and rural and city based New Zealanders have a number of options available that do not include the three big banks. Nope not convinced at all. Look at what Iceland did after the GFC, as a suggestion. A more realistic scenario.

      • Diane Yeldon

        Calvin: I thought with a credit union that the people ARE the shareholders. The problem with credit unions seems to me to be that they attract customers who can’t borrow money elsewhere and so their interest rates seem much higher than usual – I assume to cover greater risk of default. This seems to me to lock them in to servicing the ‘have nots’ and it’s not terrific for a bank if the majority of their customers are ‘have nots’. (Anyone who is a credit union fan, please correct me if I’m wrong about this.)
        What’s wrong with the old ‘savings banks’ or ‘building societies’, both versions of financially targeted ‘friendly societies’? They seemed to work and be trustworthy about fifty years ago, before banks became ‘diversified’ into offering “financial products” (bah humbug!).
        But am not keen on local government getting into anything complicated with money. Would rather councils behaved like a thrifty housewife and ‘cut their coat to suit their purse.’ Anything worthwhile could be set up as a local trust, at arm’s length from the council – as we see so often done here in Dunedin, along with the not-so-worthwhile and rather short arms’ lengths.

        • Hype O'Thermia

          I can’t think of any reasons against a local bank. Credit Unions are limited in what they can do. Cannot have family trust accounts at them, Could not have credit cards until fairly recently. Eftpos and debit cards, yes. Credit cards, no. I very much doubt if they are permitted to act as fully functioning banks, unfortunately. What they do very well is deal with the “have nots” and help them to manage money – though I think there is a tendency to make it too easy for reliable people to keep on borrowing when they have paid down some of their debt. They don’t explain the cost of borrowing. I found an excellent site online about mortgages and printed it out, with a variety of interest rates and repayment periods, to the astonishment of a friend who had never come across any of that stuff. Suddenly my friend realised how much money had gone out of her puny income starting with a necessity, then for nice-to-haves. The loan “wasn’t a problem” according to my friend till then because payments were manageable.
          But it’s not just CUs that are to blame, school and parents (if they “got it” themselves at any stage of their lives) and banks and WINZ and magazine articles … if only this became common knowledge … I wish, I wish.

      • Hype O'Thermia

        I like the thought of keeping all that interest back home in Otago, instead of shipping it off to Australian banks. That would be the equivalent of – wow, HOW many? – extra jobs, new industries established in Dunedin.

        • Lest we forget, the OSB became Trustbank, still a savings, not trading, Bank. Me, i was with Hokitika (Goldfields) SB. All I can say is I was v young, depositing florins. Anyway, all Trustbanks, in some vaguely anti democratic move, were merged with, or subsumed by, Westpac, formerly the Bank of New South Wales blah/offshore. All NZ Savings Banks were popular with non investor customers. I think then, people liked the idea of currency being tied to a Gold Standard, not promissory notes.

  6. russandbev

    Gurglars is dead right re the first priority being total replacement of these Councillors apart from maybe one or two that have showed some gumption.. The current mindset will not be altered as the drivers are idealogical amongst other things. Selling assets is not the answer, but ensuring that the Council companies are run correctly with far more suitable salaries being paid would be a first step.

    But to take the corrective action required firstly requires the right people being elected – all the other decisions and actions will flow from that. Everything that will ensure that the current swag are shown to be at fault needs to be made known to as many people as possible and that’s the other issue. Will the ODT be prepared to act in an investigative way and have the courage to publish what is actually going on?

    People will vote for those that are honest and willing to stand to make a real difference. Can those people be identified?

    • Diane Yeldon

      russandbev: after watching the idiocy at the recent Annual Plan budgeting meetings am thinking I might stand as could hardly do worse. Have always backed Lee but am sick of the fighting which he (unnecessarily IMO) provokes. Rather than Elizabeth banning me from What if? for electioneering (I really intended to spend my retirement gardening and probably still will), I would love to have the collective brains, experience and local knowledge of What-ifers available as a think tank. Certainly a lot more common sense and bright ideas here than I have ever read in the ODT.
      But I guess it is not appropriate for possible intending candidates to post on What if? so i had better wish everyone well and say ‘Keep up the good work.’
      Rob: much thanks for your wider perspective financial explanations. It totally mystifies me how the DCC can have access to all these financial experts and yet plan their budget as if they live in a bubble utterly insulated from the rest of the world. The F.L.A.W. in action, i guess. FLAW is the fundamental law of administrative workings – which is the assumption that the world is what the administrators’ reports say it is. (!)

      • Hype O'Thermia

        “But I guess it is not appropriate for possible intending candidates to post on What if? so i had better wish everyone well and say ‘Keep up the good work.’”
        Diane, it is totally appropriate for all intending candidates to make themselves visible, let their qualities be seen, show us voters who’s behind the names on the ballot paper. There comes a date at which “electioneering” starts. Up till then we can freely express ourselves, say why we support X and hope Y isn’t re-elected because –reasons—.
        One of the reasons the same-old get re-elected is that, faced with a long list of people who have in that last period blitzed us with their self-recommendations about their excellence, in bewilderment people tend to put their mark beside known names. Neil Collins was famous for being on the radio. Dave Cull was famous for being on TV programs.

        • Diane Yeldon

          Hype O’Thermia: Thanks for the point of view. Will stay until I’m chased away.

        • Elizabeth

          For the avoidance of a political monopoly (that might sound hypocritical) is how this website functions despite the small number of contributors and large swathe of daily readers and visitors.

          People should try to be themselves as rule of thumb, for as long as they can in Election Year – as soon as it turns to a shady form of advertising here that indeed looks like, feels like, smells like “electioneering” and manipulation of a captive audience (and haven’t set up their own websites to do the job !!!!!) people are very welcome to continue freely in discussing things around the “social and built environment”, with interesting forays here and there…..

    • Diane Yeldon

      russandbev: on second thoughts, your wishlist is totally unachievable – especially the bit about the ODT, which, like newspapers in general is dying anyway due to online competition, to say nothing of horrid reporters and the, er, um… independence of its ownership. The most realistic hope, after all, may be to support and encourage Cr Vandervis to continue to overcome apparently insurmountable obstacles, rather like a human bulldozer, despite the ‘collateral damage’.

  7. Calvin Oaten

    Elizabeth, just because it was founded in 1919 doesn’t make it any less relevant. That it is still operating today proves that. Still, I respect your stance much as it doesn’t answer the point. What in fact are the numerous options available in NZ besides the three big banks? Iceland took over its destiny because in effect the “cowboys” had ruined the country. It’s the Dunedin “cowboys” in the hands of the private banks that frighten me. I hear what you say, but what actually does it mean? Just bland dismissal? What alternative institution would entertain accommodating the DCC/DCHL mess on a not for profit basis?
    Face it, it must be either the city’s ‘gig’ or it simply couldn’t happen. It has to have its blessing, but a charter that brooks no interference in its aims and objects, policies nor its constitution. It must be that way lest it gets perverted and fails. All I’m asking is for a detailed analysis, not simple dismissal. The status quo can only end in tears. But it would take some greater intellect than exists in that building to understand the benefits of a conservatively managed disciplined institution. I invite opinions on the proposition that’s all.

    • Elizabeth

      Why are you asking for that analysis at DCC – that’s unlikely to be forthcoming and the time for that diligence would be at the ratepayers’ considerable cost (which I object to, and I doubt I’m alone). You need to unearth one or two, or a team of, champions with the background and industry expertise I’m talking about to champion and set out the full case for public scrutiny. The DCC is not independent enough to even contemplate this. And they have us in hock to the big banks which would be your direct competition and are unlikely to lessen their grip on our private assets any time soon. Selling off DCC’s realisable assets for paper money at this juncture in financial history, to fund your citizens bank is tantamount to grave robbery.

      • Calvin Oaten

        Elizabeth, you’re right, the DCC is not the place for analysis. Turkeys don’t vote for an early Xmas. I never envisaged that. What better use for the graves to be robbed than to cash up the Waipori Fund, taking it out of the casino, with interference by Dave and Jinty with their emotional abhorrence to fossil fuels. What better way than to sell to developer/investors the Wall St, Penrose Auckland, Bunnings Porirua and Burnside Christchurch properties. These proceeds could underwrite the bank proposal. Independent appraisers, preferably from outside Dunedin for due diligence. I believe it is doable given the right approach and Dunedin could be much better off than at present. Face it, it is less than a desirable place at present. What’s not to like?

        • Elizabeth

          To be honest, Calvin, unless there’s the diligence being done to back your bank theory then I would rather concentrate on the real. Right now, unless a gold mine has been hit by the claw of an excavator…. Delta is down the toilet and with straight effect on DCHL and DCC in quick succession (given all legal action in consequence, an added cost to Dunedin ratepayers). Any headbanging to be done should focus on the ++$20M exposure for Dunedin ratepayers, not yet admitted to by DCHL and DCC. Who both have had adequate warning since 2012/13 that the Yaldhurst aka Noble subdivision is in the mud, not drowning but drowned.

          Charity and righting of (zeroed) accounts starts at home. Not with a new formative bank anywhere near DCC but with tight steerage into the old mechanism of what happened at Delta, who was responsible for it, and what diligence was ever carried out that could reasonably expect not to fail – except that it crashed (!!) with full effect at a very early hurdle.

        • Diane Yeldon

          Elizabeth: the possibility of any of the DCC companies failing (going bankrupt) never occurred to me before you mentioned it here. But I can see that Delta taking at least two, maybe three, big losses as a result of its property speculation does put the company at risk. Don’t think the councillors who decided that Delta dividends would help pay for the stadium ever thought Delta would fail either.
          Wondered why Delta got involved in property speculation and thought it was probably a ‘work creation’ scheme. So a management/ governance (?) decision to benefit the employees, not the shareholders, which sounds improper to me.

  8. Gurglars

    The concept of a Dunedin bank similar to the Bendigo Bank and Dakota bank concept has real merit. It makes much sense to me to have a Dunedin entity loaning to the DCC. One of the hoped for advantages would be the scottish attitude to increasing the debt as ratepayers would have a say in the size of the loan book.

    However, it is this restraint on the DCC’s ability to expand debt and keep wage and salaries to manageable levels that would cruel the idea by the DCC. Why would the incumbent staff vote for a system that would engender sensible controls?

    Now they can borrow what they want, pay what they want without any sensible fiscal management. It has been proven also that they can steal what they want without anyone being charged.

    They are unlikely to assent to fiscal and management controls imposed by a prudent bank.

    What is the most disappointing aspect of the current situation is this.
    If a modern bank’s customer showed the financial controls, staff theft and crazy decision making on expenditure that the DCC has undergone in the last ten years, the bank would have the customer on an ever reducing loan system and a financial plan which if breached would have the bank withdraw its loans.

    Because of the legal responsibilty of the ratepayers to pay all DCC debts, the banks do not impose such restrictions on local governmemt.

    The banks if they had any moral background would still impose financial requirements. It is this lack of moral responsibility that should drive ratepayers to have the national government change the inevitability of ratepayers being bankrupted by their local government errors.

    Don’t hold your breath on that. Kaipara residents were unable to convince the government of the necessity of such action. And they had a proven legal case.

    • Calvin Oaten

      Gurglars, the staff would just have to suck up and lump it. This sort of move could only be instigated by a majority vote of council. Would that be possible? Yes, but first one or more councillors would need to promote and sell the idea to secure a mandate. Once done it would then be up to council to appoint investigators as to procedure, and these would need to be totally independent and preferably from out of Dunedin. Then it would be for council to instruct the CEO to action the sale of assets and set the bank up with an independent charter and articles of association.
      I understand Elizabeth’s priorities re Delta, but that is a totally different kettle of fish. In fact if we had a Citizens’ Bank I doubt that Delta would have gotten funding for those hair brained schemes.

      • Elizabeth

        Calvin while you’re thinking pie in sky (YES!!!) you’re ignoring ratepayers being (potentionally) fleeced by one of DCC’s trading companies. Do you not think your priorities are at best out of whack and you are no friend to the ratepayers. That is my conclusion while you falsely parade. With not an ounce of reality on your side. I don’t give a flying toss for Dakota or Bendigo banks in this local climate or pretend players pushing a citizens bank for #DUD. Major reality check needed.

        • Calvin Oaten

          Fair enough Elizabeth, maybe I’m thinking ‘pie in the sky’ with this mayor and council, but that doesn’t make the concept at best out of whack. While I falsely parade against the ratepayers interests in a state of unreality, you can join me in your delusions (YES!!!) about Delta or its staff ever being held to account.
          Major reality check needed? Indeed.

        • Elizabeth

          Calvin, I hope you read and understand CD’s posts.

          Meanwhile, this thread is about DCC rates and the process in setting rates.

          My thinking, like that of CD and Lee Vandervis, is about what’s going to happen to rates in the event Delta has to fold. It’s hardly science.

          The banking idea won’t in a month of Sundays come to fruition for Dunedin residents and ratepayers. Comments you’ve made twice in the past about the bank idea I supported – the thinking needs to progress with industry people needed to champion it for diligence – this website chatbox as you know can’t realistically be that vehicle. Those people don’t dwell here.

        • Hype O'Thermia

          Elizabeth, I take it you’re satirising the Mayoral fashion for denigrating those with whose ideas he disagrees.

    • Diane Yeldon

      Gurglars: I agree with Hype 0’Thermia that we need profit made on interest paid locally to stay local. So the DCC borrowing from a local bank sounds a good solution. If it possible to set up a bank in a very safe way as a co-operative, then the shareholders (presumably are Dunedin ratepayers who want to join) would be getting back their own money in terms of interest on the council’s borrowing. Why am I limiting shareholders of this ‘friendly society’ bank to ratepayers? Because those are the people who have made a financial commitment to the city by buying property here and pay for local government services. Historically, local government rates were paid only by those who owned property in the council area and ONLY property owners had the right to vote. There’s a lot of merit in re-introducing this system (although it would have to be done at central government level). Is it fair currently to property owners to have non-property owners making significant and far-reaching decisions, often irreversible, which affect other people’s property?

  9. Elizabeth

    Comment at ODT Online:

    Dunedin rates
    Submitted by weg2008 on Sat, 30/01/2016 – 6:29pm.

    Sue Bidrose may very well defend our rates to other cities but the point is, are we getting value for money? And is our rates money being spent on priority areas that are important to the average Dunedin ratepayer? Furthermore, her remarks raise the issue of affordability given that we have a significant number of low income households, particularly in South Dunedin where people are still waiting to see significant spending on infrastructure renewals.
    The major disquiet with the DCC is that their priorities are not our priorities.There is no action plan (with funding) for fixing up the St Clair Seawall and the loss of the sandy beach, no action plan (with funding) for addressing the badly eroded Middle Beach sand dunes and as I said nothing to address future South Dunedin flooding except $200,000 “placeholder budget for South Dunedin climate review” whatever that means.
    If Sue Bidrose came out and said we are putting an extra $200,000 into the Stormwater Budget to address pipe renewal then I am sure she would get a lot more sympathy and support for our overall financial situation. What she also fails to appreciate is that for a lot of older people in Dunedin on fixed retirement incomes $1996 pa is still a lot to find to remain solvent and avoid unnecessary financial worry in their twilight years.

  10. Elizabeth

    Comment at ODT Online:

    Leadership failure
    Submitted by JimmyJones on Fri, 29/01/2016 – 9:29pm.

    Well, ODT, there is something that Mayor Cull hasn’t told us: To achieve a 2.9% rates increase when 4.9% was originally planned for in last year’s Long Term Plan was not just because of a fortunate change in interest rates, but also because of significant and widespread cutbacks in capital expenditure. The decision of Dave Cull and his associates is now to cut funding to nearly every part of every DCC department for the renewal of worn-out assets and for providing new improvements to the city’s facilities. These cutbacks are not to the wasteful and low quality spending, but to the important and useful assets such as the libraries, cemeteries, road resurfacing, pavement improvements and pavement resurfacing.
    Of all the cutbacks in capital expenditure, the most foolish, in my view, is the reduction in spending on replacing the worn-out stormwater pipes and equipment as well as spending on making performance improvements to the system. We already know about the $60 million backlog of infrastructure renewals, but it is getting worse. For the next financial year about $57 million of DCC assets will reach the end of their economic life and will need to be replaced. The Mayor’s “very agreeable” Annual Plan means that only 56% of those worn out assets will be replaced (56%=$Renewals Capex÷$Total Depreciation). Cont/

  11. Diane Yeldon

    Jimmy Jones: here’s a good example of the power of words in politics: What were continually called ‘efficiencies’ in the Annual Plan budget discussions you call ‘cut backs’. Also repeated at the Annual Plan discussions were the claims that ‘service levels had been maintained’. Well, this would be quite true if the adverse effects of deferred maintenance resulting from ‘cut backs’ had not yet kicked in.

    • JimmyJones

      Yes, Diane, $5 million per year for the DCC spin-doctoring department and a compliant Allied Press has the effect of turning bad news into good news.
      The cutbacks in capital expenditure for essential infrastructure renewals is very serious, I think. And it’s just appalling that this means cuts to the funding of stormwater renewals and improvements so soon after the floods demonstrated how essential this spending is. Dave Cull thinks this is “very agreeable” – the flood affected residents of South Dunedin might think that this behaviour is criminally negligent. Dave and the idiot councillors need to read the LGA purpose of Local Government.

      • Hype O'Thermia

        No point in fixing the drains, Jimmy-Jones. For starters they had nothing to do with flooding South Dunedin, it’s sea level rise.
        Sea level rise is caused by climate change.
        Dunedin is already on track preventing this, by not investing in fossil fuels and by building cycle lanes.
        No more action required. Now, where’s a shiny thing for us to spend the saved money on?

  12. Lyndon Weggery

    Elizabeth – thankyou for posting my comment under weg_2008 to the ODT responding to the DCC Chief Executive Sue Bidrose’s comment about rates comparability with other Centres. It’s a great shame that she and the Mayor are not taking the same attitude as Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan who according to today’s ODT on page 9 is “launching a war on rates rises which he says are causing undue suffering for people on low incomes”. Although he sees some solution in increasing the rates base by increasing the population etc this may not necessarily be the “panacea” for Dunedin. While this may be the dubious rationale for sticking $750,000 extra funding into the draft Annual Plan for “economic development”; as a City we are in the vulnerable position of perhaps struggling with supporting infrastructure and the $60M backlog of pipe renewals.

    {Link http://www.odt.co.nz/regions/south-otago/371576/mayor-set-fight-growing-rates-rises -Eds}

  13. Gurglars

    You may have come up with the answer to a real quandary?

    Elect Brian Cadogan as mayor of Dunedin, he always seems to consider the ratepayers, a rarity in New Zealand.

  14. Calvin Oaten

    At the risk of seeming pedantic on this issue of a ‘Citizens Bank’, I would just like to point out that the Delta conundrum is interconnected with the current financial control of our city.
    The city has in effect its own de facto bank in the form of the Dunedin City Treasury (DCTL) whose main function is to arrange the financial requirements of the consolidated group. It simply receives its instructions and implements those on the best terms available. It is not its function to assess or moderate those requests.
    If you look at page 152 of the DCC Annual report 2012/13 you will see the schedule of bonds on issue with varying maturing dates and interest rates. There is also a multi-option note facility with a borrowing limit of $850million (as mentioned by Rob Hamlin) so it is conceivable that the consolidated debt could expand to that figure.
    My argument is that this is an incestuous arrangement with few if any checks and balances. Banks and financial institutions have little compunction about lending to local bodies, safe in the knowledge that it is guaranteed by the citizen/ratepayers. A frightening thought.
    A stand alone independent city owned bank with an independent charter and constitution would be much more circumspect in assessing requests for credit and would need to see strong business models for each and every instance. That could or should obviate much of the seemingly ‘shonky’ goings on within the group as it is presently set. That is why we now have a debt hovering around ($650million) and are unable to move on essential strategic facility upgrades and maintenance.
    All I would ask is that the mayor and councillors do investigate and take independent advice on the feasibility of creating its own banking facility for the good of the city as well as rationalising the very fraught existing system of cronyism as it is now. The citizens deserve at least that.

  15. Rob Hamlin

    “The city has in effect its own de facto bank in the form of the Dunedin City Treasury (DCTL)….It simply receives its instructions and implements those on the best terms available.”

    Calvin, you always do think the best of people, don’t you, you old softie!

  16. Diane Yeldon

    Actually I thought of DCTL as an agency or mechanism for robbing Peter to pay Paul and so on, making a complicated money-go-round that no one could understand. An anti-transparency and anti-accountability device. Sort of perhaps bordering on money-laundering.

  17. Lyndon Weggery

    Have been following the excellent revelations by What if? on the Delta subdivision troubles up in Christchurch. Makes me think that if this affects DCHL’s dividend stream then Councillors working on the draft Budget seemed unaware of the looming problems. That is with two exceptions. Only Councillor Vandervis frequently asks relevant questions indirectly relating to the problem and more significantly and specifically (last Thursday) only Councillor Calvert asked the Group Chief Financial Officer how can DCC set its draft Budget when it has little information on the draft Budget for DCHL? Grant McKenzie replied that DCHL has a different timing in its Budget cycle [it doesn’t have to go out to consultation], and draft figures of revenue and expenditure are not available in time for DCC to set its own for public annual plan consultation. As I recall approx. $7M dividend is promised and already Councillors have voted to add an extra $1.8881M to the draft Budget allocating funding for many dubious projects.

    {Square brackets the site editor’s.}

  18. Hype O'Thermia

    “As I recall approx. $7M dividend is promised and already Councillors have voted to add an extra $1.8881M to the draft Budget allocating funding for many dubious projects.”
    AKA “the cheque’s in the mail” and “put it on the plastic, they assured us the cheque’s in the mail”.

  19. JimmyJones

    Lyndon: shall I tell you a secret about DCHL’s dividend stream: There isn’t one. It has stopped. There is no dividend expected to be paid for the next several years – none, nought, nil, nada, nothing, zero, zilch, zip.

    This was revealed in the last Statement Of Intent (financial forecast) and confirmed by Cr Lee Vandervis’ persistent questioning of the DCC Chief Financial Officer at a Council meeting in November 2015 (I think). It’s worth looking at the YouTube to see all the evasive methods used to not answer the questions.

    The DCC gleefully tells us that DCHL pays the DCC interest every year, but it doesn’t tell us that the $100+ million loan is borrowed money and the DCC has to pay interest on this money. The interest paid about equals the interest received, so the DCHL interest payment is not a benefit to the DCC. Some of the DCHL subsidiaries are expected to make a profit, but this is partly or totally consumed because DCHL now owns the loss-making stadium companies.

    DCHL paying no dividend has been a secret because of the slackness of the ODT and the decisions of the DCC. I also accept some of the blame.

    • JimmyJones

      Have a look at this. This is the DCC Finance Committee meeting – November 16 2015 where Cr Lee Vandervis eventually forces the Group Chief Financial Officer to admit that DCHL has stopped paying dividends. Lee had already tried and failed to do this a month before. The main features about this are Lee’s persistence and patience as well as the GCFO’s extreme reluctance. He also shows us some techniques for dealing with pesky Councillors. The discussion starts at exactly 10 minutes:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TFxDdwLoHY

      • Elizabeth

        er GREAT…… must look at the Finance chairman also. [Oh. No sign on camera of his face/reaction to what Cr Vandervis has established with the GCFO.]

        No dividend is payable by DCHL (the companies) to DCC in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The LTP brings an increase in dividends payable to DCC within the 10-year period, the Group Chief Financial Officer (GCFO) maintains.

        • JimmyJones

          See how he tries to fudge the dividend and the subvention and the interest – and when that doesn’t work he changes the time period from a three year period to a ten year period. An increase in dividends over the ten years is easily achieved when you are starting from zero.

        • Elizabeth

          Yes. As you say, Cr Vandervis was quite specific with his question re dividends in the 3-year period – the GCFO was offering up dishwater like it mattered.

          Note the potential conflict of interest (COI), CFO for DCC, CFO for DCHL and companies.
          Left hand right hand, contained.

        • Hype O'Thermia

          JimmyJones: “when that doesn’t work he changes the time period from a three year period to a ten year period” – just wait till he gets really desperate. I foresee amounts of money expressed variously as yen, guineas and zloty….
          ….in base 8…
          …which as Tom Lehrer pointed out is the same as base 10, if you’re missing two fingers.

        • Elizabeth

          The heat has not got to your powers of expression, Hype O’Thermia. My godfather! (as ’twere)

      • Hype O'Thermia

        Interesting, Diane.
        Do you think a goodly proportion of councillors are as baffled as I was by this house-of-mirrors form of accounting?
        Big thankyous to Calvin who understands but is still on a level that bewilders me, and JimmyJones who takes complexity and breaks it down to my level, and the others who analyse and understand till readers of this site have the opportunity to know everything that’s not hidden.
        On the spot though, in a meeting, who’s brave enough to look dumb by asking the GCFO to explain, then to explain further, then ask for further explanations and details until it’s all clear to them? It’s one of the problems in school classes, the rest of the class may not understand either but the kid who asks gets treated like she’s dumb while everyone else is cool, so the way to be cool is don’t ask.
        It takes someone who already understands, has worked through it in detail himself – Lee Vandervis in this case – to ask the questions because he can do so not as a dumb person but in the same spirit as a lawyer cross-examining a witness, to bring a definite statement out for the benefit of all others present.

      • Diane Yeldon

        SITE NOTICE
        {Diane has requested a retraction, thus comments including this one have been moderated. -Eds}

        Hype O’Thermia: Councillors will find it difficult to know most of the stuff going on with the Council Controlled Organisations. I remember the political climate when the law allowing LATEs (local authority trading enterprises) were passed, through amendments to the Local Government Act, I think. There seem to have been further amendments. Here’s a note about CCOs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council-controlled_organisation
        But I see the problem as the law allowing CCOs to be called ‘council controlled’ and owned by local authorities as shareholders but not manage or direct the companies. So elected reps end up more or less being held to blame for any bad decisions which they had little or no power to be involved in making. For example, no elected rep on the DCC had anything to do with Delta getting involved in property speculation – they probably didn’t even know until after the fact. Is this law just an accident? Or does it benefit someone? I think it was originally passed by politicians in the grip of New Right ideology and all ideologies tend to part from common sense. How does it benefit ratepayers to have this extreme separation between the management of Council Controlled Companies and their ownership? In fact, why have Council Controlled Organisations at all? This part of the law is as clear as mud to me! http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2002/0084/latest/DLM171482.html?search=sw_096be8ed811fa8ae_concilcontrolled+organisations_25_se&p=1

        • Elizabeth

          Moderated following retraction.

          Diane – the CCOs are public companies, they are therefore answerable to the shareholders.

          Refer to the DCC website for definitions supplied in the LTP for CCOs, link as supplied previously when discussing Delta as a CCTO:

          Dunedin City Council Long Term Plan 2015/16 – 2024/25
          Section 6 – Council Controlled Organisations

          Council Controlled Organisations – Summary of Background Information
          In order to achieve specific objectives for Dunedin, the Council has established a number of Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs). These CCOs manage facilities, assets and/or deliver significant services on behalf of the Council and the wider Dunedin community. There are three kinds of CCOs – Council Controlled Trading Organisations (CCTOs); not-for-profit CCOs; and non-trading CCOs. Each of the trading CCOs prepares a “Statement of Intent” which sets out its mission, objectives and performance targets for each financial year.
          Read more

      • Hype O'Thermia

        Diane: “But I see the problem as the law allowing CCOs to be called ‘council controlled’ and owned by local authorities as shareholders but not manage or direct the companies.” Don’t manage, don’t direct? Where did the definition of “controlled” go – into the Dictionary of Antonyms?
        Trustworthy set-up? Yeahhhhhh.

      • Diane Yeldon

        Moderated following retraction.

        Hype: ….I doubt whether I could write any kind of convincing essay about the various kinds of council business enterprises the law allows. Need to learn more about this. Here’s more stuff about accountability and monitoring here:http://www.localcouncils.govt.nz/lgip.nsf/wpg_url/About-Local-Government-Local-Government-In-New-Zealand-How-a-council-can-structure-itself#CouncilOrganisations
        But although the ‘council’ can and must do various things that sound reassuring, I think this means ‘the council collectively by resolution’ and that individual councillors in practice have very little power to find out what is going on. And whether, how and how well the company is carrying out its own Statement of Intent.

  20. Calvin Oaten

    Lyndon, don’t forget the $7.292m subvention payment from Aurora as ‘life support’ for DVL/DVML for the stadium. That would equate to some $5.4m as a tax paid dividend to the DCC. So, is the $7m you cite added to that, and if so the total dividend would be $12.4m after tax from DCHL to the DCC. With its in-house Delta hiccups, a shrinking log export market plus Aurora’s substantial capital spending programme in vogue, it’s a big hope. Still, our intrepid mayor and council have every confidence.

  21. JimmyJones

    Calvin: the old $7.292m ratepayer subsidy paid to DVL doesn’t exist now. Instead, this has become a transfer between the subsidiaries of DCHL. So, instead of DCC paying DVL directly, we have DCHL being unable to pay any dividend to the DCC because it has been crippled by being the owner of DVL and DVML.
    The DCC has been talking about DCHL’s “Dividend” by which it really means the total payment of dividend plus interest. Now that there is no dividend, the term “dividend” translates to “interest”. As I said above, the interest received from DCHL is about the same as the interest that the DCC has to pay to provide the loan to DCHL and so DCHL effectively provides no benefit to the DCC. The so called “Dividend” is fake.

  22. Elizabeth

    JimmyJones – thanks extremely for the succinct bringing-up-to-speed, based on your readings and cross-reference checks. Lack of vigilance on all our parts lets DCC away with it.

    I wonder, the bumbling ad hocism that is DCC in its many splendid forms of screwy accounting never dies? Or it will, sharply, when all stars align.

  23. Lyndon Weggery

    Jimmy – thanks for your helpful explanation about dividend stream from DCHL. The draft budget presented to Council last Monday shows $5902 “DCHL Dividend plus interest” included as part of the overall Revenue. Accepting it is lower than my original figure can you shed some light on how this figure was arrived at and does it still have some credibility?

  24. JimmyJones

    Lyndon: you are correct. The $5902 is described as “DCHL Dividend plus interest”. This is true in a pedantic way, but somewhat misleading: The dividend is zero ($0.00) and the interest is $5902. This is taken from the latest Statement Of Intent (SOI). The main purpose of SOIs is to provide financial forecasts. Page 7 of the DCHL SOI shows the forecast with zero dividend for 2016, 2017, 2018.

    The SOI shows a subsidy to be paid to DVL of $5250, but with the transfer of ownership of DVL+DVML to DCHL this payment is now internal to DCHL and so the only external payment from DCHL is the interest ($5902) paid to DCC, which offsets the DCC’s costs of providing the loan (“Shareholder’s Advance”). The net advantage of owning DCHL is therefore about nothing – but it keeps the stadium fed and the free staff for ORFU.

    The DCHL SOI is here: http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/488435/ma_council_r_DCHL-DVL-DVML-SoI_2015_03_16.pdf

    The draft budget that you refer to can be seen here (see page 1): http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/529371/Section-2-Draft-Financial-Statements.pdf

    • Diane Yeldon

      Hmm, ‘transparent’ financial accounting noting a dividend of zero but adding this to another figure and claiming the second figure is dividend plus x? Not ‘transparent’ at all but looks DELIBERATELY done IMO to hide the fact that a dividend of zero is NO dividend.

  25. Gurglars

    Oh Dear.
    And imagine the real effects of a further annual loss on the interest rate swaps, with which minor fluctuations could exceed $20 million.

    The chicanery of the DCC is only matched by the mayor’s naivety.

    So we now come to Gurglars second law.

    Chicanery is only matched by naivety in Dunedin. (Corollary “within the DCC”)

    To remind you of Gurglars first law.

    The number of cycleways is inversely proportional to the number of cyclists using them.

  26. JimmyJones

    On the topic of public scrutiny: the ARS (Audit and Risk Subcommittee) met today and the agenda shows that most of it was secret. We do get to see what the secret items were:
    – minutes from the last secret meeting
    – Conflict of Interest Policy
    – Internal Audit
    – CHRIS Update
    – Purchase Card
    – Review Update
    – Department Register
    – BIS Risk Register
    – Risk Management
    – Items for Consideration

    Only three items were non secret. Not only is this stuff secret from us, but also secret from the other councillors. The ARS is Chris Staynes, Richard Thomson, Hilary Calvert, Mayor Dave Cull and two independent members.

    • Diane Yeldon

      JimmyJones: Yes, the Audit and Risk Subcommitte is murky and secretive. But to the DCC’s credit, NOT secret from councillors who are not members. Because it is constituted by council resolution as a subcommittee, all councillors have the right to attend as observers. Minutes show that Crs Vandervis and Hawkins did do this on at least one occasion each. This is a vast improvement on the DCC’s former practice of using Working Parties to evade legal transparency requirements. A particularly horrid example, where the ruling bloc in council ( led by Mayor, Dave Cull,) passed a council resolution prohibiting all non-members councillors from attending as observers, was the Council Controlled Organisations Liaison Group. The overtly expressed reason for the setting up of this Working Party ( because that was its legal status) was ‘confidentiality’ or secrecy. Absolutely and totally illegal and ‘ultra vires’ – the council cannot make resolutions contrary to statute law.
      So although i would love to know what is going on at the Audit and Risk Subcommittee ( mainly because the DCC is going to such trouble to ensure that I and ratepayers in general DON’T know), it is a big improvement with respect to transparency that this meeting has been constituted as a Subcommittee, rather than a Working Party. ( And I am using capital letters for ‘Working Party’ because these are legally defined in the council’s Standing Orders precisely so they don’t turn into secretive mechanisms for conducting council business away from public scrutiny.)

      • Diane Yeldon

        It would probably be worthwhile checking the wording of the council resolutiion which set up the Audit and Risk Subcommittee. The fact that a non-councillor is chair and another non-councillor is a member and that meetings do not have a quorum (and so cannot take place) unless one of these non-councillor members are present seems rather unusual. I wondered whether Audit NZ, who had reps present at some of the first meetings, were putting some kind of ‘iron fist in velvet glove’ pressure on the DCC to up their game with respect to financial accountability. Also maybe encouraging the bringing in of outsiders because they thought the DCC elected reps had not demonstrated enough nous when it came to managing money, financial risk and protecting themselves against fraud. Good grounds existed for any lack of confidence since council cars were being stolen etc for decades and no-one, apparently, knew. Or more likely had anyone they could tell.

        • JimmyJones

          Diane, there certainly was pressure from Audit NZ for the DCC to establish the ARS. It took several years of Audit NZ recommendations before it eventually happened. Council staff don’t like to hang their dirty washing where everyone can see.

      • JimmyJones

        I agree that Subcommittees are a step up from Working Parties. Subcommittees have agendas and minutes and are open to the public. Both the public and non-member councillors will be ejected when they have a secret session. The other Subcommittee is the SAS (Sustainability Audit Subcommittee). While public scrutiny of them is possible, not much of it happens because public attendance is mostly zero and there has never (or almost never) been any media reps in attendance.

        • Diane Yeldon

          Jimmy Jones: you are saying that when a subcommittee (or any other meeting of the council) goes into non public, then non-member councillors must leave along with members of the public (and press) and are not permitted to remain as observers? The DCC’s Standing orders state the following:

          Right to attend meetings
          2.11.2
          “A member of a local authority, or of a committee of a local
          authority, has, unless lawfully excluded, the right to attend any
          meeting of the local authority or committee.”
          [cl. 19(2), Schedule 7, LGA]
          This means the council has to actually pass a resolution to exclude any councillor from attending any meeting including the non-public part.

          (Although, I believe Cr Vandervis had to fight for his right to attend a meeting of the Audit and Risk Subcommittee as an observer. Sadly, it doesn’t surprise me that the mayor and his councillors allies don’t know their own Standing Orders – they break them so often!)
          I agree with you about the Sustainability Audit Subcommittee as being another ‘secret society’. They have met regularly in the Otaru Room which is in the council offices behind the barricades and to me sends a great big signal saying, “Public not welcome.” I have thought of going just to be irritating. But what’s the point? Because as soon as the meeting starts, it will go into non public and I (and any other members of the public present – extremely unlikely) would be be excluded. I actually officially asked the DCC when the new Contracts and Tenders policy discussed by the Audit and Risk Subcommittee would be made public and was told ‘when it went to a meeting of the council”. When it did, without more than the legally required two working days’ notice in the agenda, I was not allowed to speak on it at public forum, the reason being that there were too many other earlier booked speakers. Despite there being no public consultation on this policy and no other possible opportunity for any public input on it. Yet the DCC is a major local employer and their spending and contracting policies are of considerable public interest. Including the issue of ‘social contracting’ – whether to kindly give the deserving job opportunities and perhaps not to the not-so-deserving.

        • Diane Yeldon

          Just went for a walk down the road to the Kaikorai Common and there’s a big sign on a power pole in Nairn St referring to the DCC water infrastructure contract going on in Nairn St and neighbouring streets. Saying DCC Tender number ‘blah’. Value $1M+, Kaikorai Valley etc. For more information contact (council phone number). And at the last meeting someone said tender info is on the DCC website. So I looked and found this: http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/council-online/procurement/tenders-results
          Pretty good, I think.
          And the Kaikorai Common apple trees are overloaded with fruit just ripening (a few plums will be later). This is not that good for the trees to have such a heavy crop weighing them down. Think there should be a sign saying WALK HERE AND TAKE ONLY WHAT YOU CAN CARRY. Might encourage locals to use and care for their reserves. And get fit and healthy. Remarkably healthy trees too. Would hate someone to drive as close as they can get and meanly strip the trees. Thanks to Hendrik and Shetland Street Gardens/ Environment Centre/ Kaikorai Common Re-vegetation Project people. Wonder if the Food Bank would like some of the apples. Will let them know.

        • JimmyJones

          Diane: I think that you are correct in saying that any councillor can attend as an observer, any committee or subcommittee meeting even during the public excluded parts. The LGA Schedule 7 that that you mention makes this clear.
          I don’t think that a meeting of Council/Committee/Subcommittee is legally permitted to pass a resolution to exclude any councillor from attending any meeting because this contravenes the LGA. The Chairman of a meeting has some powers to remove members, but only for some types of bad behaviour. They should be safe if they are sitting quietly.
          The ARS has many secret sessions, but the SAS (Sustainability Audit Subcommittee) has only a few. The Otaru Room room is accessible and the public excluded parts are predetermined before you arrive and are described in the agenda. If you are lucky, Dave might offer you a cup of tea and a biscuit.

        • Diane Yeldon

          JimmyJones: I discussed by email the Council Controlled Organisations Liaison Group (Working Party) with DCC Group Manager Corporate Services Sandy Graham at length at the time. She told me that some councils had indeed passed resolutions prohibiting non-member councillors from attending a subcommittee. But in the DCC’s case, doing this with respect to a working party, was contrary to their own Standing Orders rules for working parties. So they were breaking their own rules. The resolution is still there in the DCC archives and no acknowledgment of fault has ever been made. When I emailed Dave Cull about it (still hoping at the time that his election promises about increased transparency might have some truth in them), he tried the same old ‘no decisions are being made’ spiel. The ONLY way ‘no decisions are being made’ is if working parties are limited to their proper specified purposes – which is information-gathering, after which they can make a REPORT. They CANNOT legally make a RECOMMENDATION because this involves making a decision – about what to recommend. Yet certainly in the past, working parties of all descriptions and confusing, obfuscatory names were bringing recommendations to council meetings where there was a real risk of rubber stamping. I agree with you that it SHOULDN’T be legal for a council to pass a resolution excluding any councillor from attending a meeting at least as an observer. Because to do so disenfranchises the voters who elected that person to represent them. But, alas, unless the law specifically forbids something, then councils are assumed to be able to do it. Apart from a legal challenge, which virtually no-one can afford, there is no remedy and no-one to make them accountable. The Ombudsmen do not have jurisdiction over decisions of the full council, something which I think should be changed, as councils too often act as if they are above the law.

        • Elizabeth

          Diane. The last DCC working party I was on, was clearly informed of its limited role from the get-go by the chairman, and the governance support officer who acted as secretary/admin. Ditto with the last DCC subcommittee I was a member of. It was simply unheard of to exclude a councillor who might be invited to attend or who wished to attend – and that’s the clue, “invited” was a formal process notified to the chairman before the agenda went out. It was a no-surprise courtesy and a sensible rule of thumb.

          Historically then, care was taken to stay in role and work to the letter. Most working parties and subcommittees were seen to be informed and responsible – a lot of this was down to the professionaL support and guidance of experienced, knowledgeable governance support officers from the relatively small DCC pool.

          Too easy to fling assertions, I do it often…. but I’m also fairly experienced in volunteering my time to worthy projects where a committee explores ideas and gathers information and (mutually) sticks to business rules for successful outcomes – and where applicable to DCC, those outcomes being led out through due process at standing committee and full council meetings. There are now two experienced in-house lawyers at DCC to provide backup guidance, if need, to council subcommittee-ing and work-partying. I therefore think processes at this particular level of community engagement will be practically scrutinised and guided once again (!!), if required – very likely with more certainty as to options and limits.

          My experience pre-dates Sandy’s arrival at DCC – or indeed Dave Cull and Greater Dunedin’s arrival (the funk). Realise too, I’m off at a tangent with your concern about who attends what when. The trick is indeed to consult and be guided by standing orders where they properly apply. The chairperson’s role is to know those orders, intimately, and apply them. It all falls down if the chairperson is technically inept. Where have we seen that.

      • Diane Yeldon

        Elizabeth: I didn’t arrive in Dunedin until the end of Sukhi Turner’s last term as Mayor. So my first experience of the DCC was watching the various working parties carrying out the push to build the stadium. I had checked out the ‘health’ of DCC before I made the decision to move here in 2001 and it seemed in good financial shape with its companies and had a good customer service rating. So maybe I have just unfortunately observed what might be called a ‘window of decline’, hopefully short-lived. As you say, the DCC’s in-house lawyers are extremely good to have.
        All the same, within the last couple of years, the DCC has set up a ‘group’ to discuss the PROPOSED Mosgiel pool, and another ‘group’ was set up to discuss PROPOSED cycleways (and indeed liaise with NZLTA). I suspect that both of these were legally constituted as ‘Working Parties’, despite which, both made ‘recommendations’ to either council committees or the full council. I think it is essential to avoid the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ or we might see a repeat of the seriously bad ‘Carisbrook Stadium Working Party’, chaired by DCC CEO, Jim Harland. If this totally opaque and improper process had not been used, then I doubt very much we would have the stadium and its crippling debt. The critical concept is ‘delegation’. A Working Party cannot be delegated any decision-making powers. Yet at council meetings, when Working Parties return with ‘recommendations’, it seems to me that councillors, in general, believe that such delegation has, in fact, taken place.

        • Elizabeth

          Diane. Working parties aren’t open to the public, I’m not sure how you tracked same. Also, some of what you are implying were working parties were likely not. Would need to check their constitution.

        • Elizabeth

          Establishing their WP constitution in no way allows the public to track a working party’s business. At such time a resolution is put from the working party to the standing committee it must formally report to, the public still isn’t and shouldn’t be privy to working party business that led to recommendations such that the standing party might put a resolution, except nominally. There is privilege to be respected.

        • Diane Yeldon

          Elizabeth: Working Parties are constituted by council resolution. So I knew that they had been set up when I read the Minutes.

        • Diane Yeldon

          Elizabeth: Just to explain my point a bit more clearly: If something is a ‘meeting of the council’, then the transparency provisions of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act apply – i.e the meeting must be open to the public (unless the public-exclusion provisions for specified and named agenda items apply), it must be advertised in advance, the agenda must be made public at least two working days in advance and minutes must be taken, be publicly available and archived. Any Committee or Subcommittee is a ‘meeting of the council’. (as well, of course, as meetings of the full council). A Working Party is NOT ‘ a meeting of the council’ (because it is not a decision-making body) for the purposes of the LGOIM Act and so the transparency provisions above do not apply. So ANY meeting of councilors discussing council business falls into one of these three categories – it is EITHER a meeting of the council OR it is a Working Party (regardlessof what name is bestowed on it (eg workshop/group) OR it is NOT anything to do with the council and has no delegated authority of the council. Sukhi Turner’s “Mayoral Forum on Mental Health’ was an example of the last. It was invitation only and set up by Mrs Turner after the Burton murder in response to public protest over government mental health care, or lack of it. But it had no legal standing whatsoever as anything to do with local government. It would have far more properly been called “Mrs Turner’s Forum on Mental Health.” I don’t want to distract from the central issue by mentioning the topic of mental health. It’s just that this an example of the need to use the authority of local government properly and legally and not abuse it. Or bamboozle people that authority exists where it does not. Actually there is an exception to the above three categories I mentioned above – and that is ‘joint committees’, such as the joint committee the DCC holds with the ORC. But LOGOIM Act transparency provisions apply to these. This is my understanding of the situation anyway. Am happy to be corrected by anyone with better info.

  27. Gurglars

    Suck of a Set Up.

    1. Councillors will be more likely to sell DCC assets such as forests when no dividends are expected.

    2. Purchasers will pay less for DCC assets as commercial properties are valued on yield.

    Looks like the sale of Waipori power generation. Someone is going to get richer and it isn’t the ratepayers.

    Check sale negotiator’s garages for Lamborghinis (NB this was not done in case of Swann, Bachop and others).

    • Elizabeth

      Well done, Gurglars.

      A DCC note to your mention of Waipori:

      Waipori Fund
      Established in 1999, using proceeds from the sale of the Waipori electricity generation assets, the Waipori Fund provides a valuable annual dividend to the Council. The fund value at 30 June 2014 was $74 million.

      Objectives
      The primary objective of the Waipori Fund is to generate income and increase capital value over the long term, subject to a proper consideration of investment risk.
      Subject to the income distribution needs of the fund owner and the provisions for capital protection, a key tenet is to enlarge the Waipori Fund’s capital base to protect that base from falls in the value of money. This adjustment to the capital base is described as “inflation adjusting the fund”.

      Other objectives
      ● provide a non-rates revenue source to the Council
      ● provide a source of liquidity should the need arise
      ● provide long-term wealth generation for ratepayers
      ● to hold equity investments as a hedge against inflation – and also provides an offset to other areas of the Council.

      Target
      The Council envisages a minimum return over the medium to long-term, net of all fees and charges attributable to the Fund, equivalent to the weighted average Official Cash Rate plus the movement in the ‘all groups’ consumer price index.

      DCC Link

  28. Calvin Oaten

    On a different note, I see where DVML has welcomed ‘Ticketmaster’ as its new ticketing agency. Another signal that local ain’t good enough. Ticketmaster is a USA headquartered international operation, so a portion of the fees will go offshore as usual. How Dunedin continues to get shafted is one of the big failings of our caretakers.

    • Elizabeth

      As noted earlier by the newspaper:

      ### ODT Online Sat, 19 Dec 2015
      Deal could mean more big concerts
      By Chris Morris
      Dunedin could be in line for even more big concerts following the signing of a new ticketing deal by the company running Forsyth Barr Stadium. Dunedin Venues Management Ltd, which runs the stadium and Dunedin Centre venues, yesterday announced Ticketmaster would in future act as its ticketing agent for most events at its venues. Ticketmaster NZ Ltd is a subsidiary of Live Nation, the company that brought Fleetwood Mac to Dunedin.
      Read more

      Ticketmaster NZ on Facebook (about)

      • Well this is yet another monster multinational company that is simply (if I can put it like this) ‘crowding out our own house’.

        We have been witnessing an increasing number of very large multinationals taking us over. The real danger it that we are becoming vassals in our own state. The example of the Compass Group and the immediate effect upon the quality of hospital food is a cogent example.

        We don’t need to wait for the TPPA – it’s already here.
        Here’s a resume of this outfit that we seem so keen to clutch to our collective bosum.

        Wikipedia: Live Nation Entertainment
        Type: Public company
        Traded as: NYSE: LYV
        Industry: Entertainment
        Founded: 2010
        Headquarters Beverly Hills, California
        Area served: Worldwide
        Key people: Greg Maffei (Chairman); Michael Rapino (CEO, director, president)
        Products: Ticketmaster; Live Nation Concerts; Front Line Management Group; Live Nation Network
        Revenue: Increase US$ 5.38 billion (2011)
        Operating income: Increase US$ 18.34 million (2011)
        Net income: Increase US$ -70.40 million (2011)
        Total assets: Decrease US$ 5.088 billion (2011)
        Total equity: Increase US$ 1.62 billion (2011)
        Number of employees: Full-time: 6,600; Part-time: 13,000
        Website: livenationentertainment.com

        Live Nation Entertainment is an American entertainment company, formed from the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster. It owns, leases, operates, has booking rights for and/or equity interest in a large number of U.S. entertainment venues. The leadership consists of John C. Malone, chairman of Liberty Media as chairman and Michael Rapino (previously chief executive officer of Live Nation) as president and CEO of the company.

        The merger that gave rise to the company was not without opposition. The proposed merger initially received regulatory approval in Norway and Turkey. The United States Justice Department approved the merger on January 25, 2010, with some conditions to which both parties agreed. However, in October 2009, the United Kingdom’s Competition Commission provisionally ruled against the merger. On December 22, 2009, the Competition Commission reversed its decision and cleared the proposed merger

        Opposition to merger
        A group including members of the United States Congress and business rivals of Ticketmaster and Live Nation had urged the U.S. Department of Justice to stop the merger. The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), whose members include Google, Oracle, Microsoft, Yahoo, Intuit, and eBay, also opposed the merger.

  29. Calvin Oaten

    Moderated following retraction.

    Diane, ….It all looks like it could be a case of obfuscation to hide what may well be an unsolvable situation of embarrassing proportions to a lot of so-called important people.

  30. Lyndon Weggery

    Have just viewed the Council Finance Meeting of 15 November 2015 and agree with Jimmy that Councillor Vandervis had his work cut out to obtain the revelation that no dividends are promised for the next three years from DCHL. What has struck me time and time again is the reluctance of so many other Councillors to give Senior Managers a proper (but polite) grilling on Staff Reports to really ascertain the facts on behalf of suffering Ratepayers. Furthermore, trying to determine once and for all whether or not Councillors (in the last 5 years) had faithfully followed up the 3 Water Strategy LCMP recommendations and made sure adequate funding was being channeled through to the Annual Plan budget to action the recommendations (in hindsight read South Dunedin) is like trying to get blood out of a stone!!!

    How sad and how different to the situation 20 years ago when Richard Walls and Sukhi Turner were Mayor. While I didn’t agree with everything the late Richard stood for I still have to commend his vision of setting up the Council Companies with the main purpose of producing a healthy dividend stream to keep our annual rates increases down to affordable levels. In his day (as I roughly recall) net Council debt was only $52M approx and dividends of about $11M were common as reported in the relevant Annual Plans. Now the draft budget for 2016/17 shows a net Council core debt of $224.9M and as we now know no dividend; only some promised interest payment of $5.902M as Jimmy has explained is interest on an internal loan made by DCC to DCHL and still shown as a “net cash payment from DCHL” in the revenue stream.

    So what’s changed since the 1990s? Apart from big ticket items like the Water and Tahuna Sewerage upgrade (which all Dunedin ratepayers still pay for in their rates as fixed annual charges) the other major item that Ratepayers are still “wearing” is the compulsory funding of the New Stadium. As Jimmy pointed out the $5.902M interest is on a DCC loan to DCHL as part of the Stadium financing, and last year as part of the CEO’s Stadium Review $30M extra debt was transferred off DVL and added to the DCC’s core debt to bring us up to nearly $225M. When you look back and reflect on just how bad things have deteriorated and the propensity to spend what little we have on “other things” without recourse to the basic network infrastructure, it’s high time to call those Councillors concerned, to account.

    • Calvin Oaten

      Lyndon, in fact I can remember Richard enthusing over the setting up of the DCHL group saying he believed that they would collectively be so effective that he could see the day when there would be no call for citizens’ rates but the profits from the trading enterprises would cover the city’s operating costs. So, was he really so smart?

      I can also remember around the turn of the century in Murray Douglas’ time when the DCC core debt was just $35million. Along came Jim Harland and by the time he had restructured the bureaucracy, the debt had ballooned to arguably around $280 – $300million. As well, DCHL had been at it in a big way and the consolidated debt had exceeded $623million, where I believe (despite Dave Cull’s claims to the contrary) it still probably is. There is no trend that I can see to slow expenditure, with Cycleways, Aquatic Centres, Portobello Rd improvements (again primarily for cyclist’s benefit) etc. Then there is the continuous bleeding of the DVL stadium debt costs plus DVML’s subsidising and its continuous annual deficits. Then there are the subtle injections into the stadium by DCC’s surreptitious $500,000pa by way of paying up uncalled capital shares. Not to mention the additional “events promotion funding annually”.

      Of course we ought not forget the Dunedin Town Hall Redevelopment Project debt servicing requirements as it is falling so short of use projections that it is criminal. For instance, in the consultant’s report on the basis of which the project got the go ahead, it stated that: In the first year – 2015, after completion of upgrade it was predicated that there would be 36 conferences. A budgeted revenue over expenses estimate showed a razor thin surplus before depreciation and debt servicing. Taking these into account there would be a $4.2million deficit. Now, I was there in October (2015) in a Probus group on a conducted tour of the complex. At the end we were gathered in the foyer and the hostess who conducted the tour told us about the activities catered for. I asked her that here in October, how many events had been held, and were to be held by the end of the calendar year. She thought for a moment and said there had been about a dozen. So there you are, have a guess on the shortfall.

      Then there is the Otago Settlers Museum which carries debt of around $30million. This is a venture with a large conservation and guide staff that has no revenue of any consequence due to free entry.
      All in all there are obvious reasons why there is stunned silence on the ‘Three Waters’ requirements, not to mention the St Clair Sea Wall.

      Lyndon, I think if you are placing any faith in the veracity and honesty of purpose of the bureaucracy and your elected Mayor and councillors having any real handle on the true situation then it is sadly misguided.

  31. Elizabeth

    At the pre-Draft Annual Plan meetings last week I distinctly remember Cr Thomson doing another of his put downs that might affect anyone in the room that likes to think DCC finances are shot akin to crashed. Didn’t blink. Why ever would I think that – threadbare as the DCC narrative goes.

    Needless to say there flashes a generous vision of hundreds of Dunedin ratepayers giving over their private homes and businesses to satisfy the greater DCC good when it falls over due to pitiful financial management. Nothing is too good for Cr Thomson, on his very comfortable DCC stipend plus famous earnings as a SDHB deputy-commissioner. Meeee.

  32. Anonymous

    A semi-regular question: given that all meeting rooms can be accessed publicly, how often does DCC conduct a “sweep” for electronic listening or other recording devices?

  33. Elizabeth

    Shushhhh how do you think What if? gets its intelligence.
    SAVE the bug!

  34. Delta Army Song: When Im with you, Im standing with an Army/in line for our Army cup of tea/no matter what the day is, we have no marney/so we wait for a Sally Army tea/get out of here and get me some money too.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      I couldn’t place the cup of tea song. Google: found this featuring a Salvation Army singer with a belting music-hall voice

      “Part of the Gowans and Larsson evening at the Regent Hall Salvation Army. Featuring Sue Blyth.”

    • JimmyJones

      Hype O’Thermia: Google hasn’t found this yet because Alan only wrote it last night. “When I’m with you, Im standing with an Army” comes from comes from Ellie Goulding – Army. Alan could have also called it the Dave Cull Army song or the Sue Bidrose Army song or the Flooded Again Army song. It’s good.

      • Elizabeth

        Ellie Goulding’s Army was thrown up at the post as the inspiration (by conflation) that offend too many ratepayers and residents and Dave Cull will need to deal to that army, OURS!

        Yes, recognising his spendthrift mottley crew at DCC.

        Today’s news on Portobello Rd design mishmash ($500,000 smackeroos) and the $8m cycleways (from your back pockets and every orifice as taxpayers, and as ratepayers for the blighted parking building idea and other inducements, ****eroo!)…. still probably isn’t enough to buy glitzy uniforms for the army. Sadly. Baaaa.

        • Hype O'Thermia

          Have confidence, Elizabeth! Have faith!
          “Mayor Dave Cull has defended the council in the wake of the extra costs, saying the community should be confident in its ability to roll out cycleways in the city.
          “I think the community can have confidence because we are putting in something that will work,” Mr Cull said.”

          Breaking with customary practice, eh – “we are putting in something that will work”.
          Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle, the magpies said.
          The tui’s response was deemed unsuitable for a family-friendly site like this one.

        • Elizabeth

          I’m so shattered and depressed.

          I need a new song. Alan ?

  35. Hype O'Thermia

    Yes, I recognised it was custom-built for our delight.
    I also dimly remembered there was a song with Army cup of tea in the chorus.

    “Alan could have also called it the Dave Cull Army song or the Sue Bidrose Army song or the Flooded Again Army song.” How true. Isn’t that sickening :-(
    Dunedin – The Ditzy Wee City that Can’t [get its shit together]

  36. Elizabeth

    DCC videos of pre-Draft Annual Plan meetings:

    Dunedin City Council – Annual Plan Meeting – Jan 25 2016 – Part 1 [includes introduction by CEO Sue Bidrose wrt to Central government steerage on local authority Long Term Plans and Annual Plans; and her budget overview]

    Dunedin City Council – Annual Plan Meeting – Jan 25 2016 – Part 2

  37. Elizabeth

    GLORY BE —I mean, what to say.

    ### dunedintelevision.co.nz Tue, 16 Feb 2016
    DCC spending under budget
    The city council’s books are in better shape than expected, heading into the start of a new financial year. DCC spending was under budget by about $700,000 for the six months to the end of December. That’s partly offset by higher than expected depreciation costs, and the loss of some overseas investments. But overall the council’s got almost a million dollars more in its accounts than anticipated. Staff are also reducing debt ahead of schedule, with $233m remaining.
    Ch39 Video

    ****

    ### ODT Online Tue, 16 Feb 2016
    Councillors question report’s value
    By Vaughan Elder
    Dunedin city councillors have questioned the value of comparing the city’s financial performance with the rest of New Zealand given the country’s “two-stage” economy. The comments came during yesterday’s economic development committee meeting, where a Business and Economic Research Ltd (Berl) report detailing Dunedin’s economy in the year to March last year was presented. The report showed the city’s economy was performing better than in the past, but still lagging behind New Zealand on most economic indicators.
    Read more

    ****

    ### ODT Online Tue, 16 Feb 2016
    Councillors disagree on debt repayment
    By Chris Morris
    The Dunedin City Council’s success in repaying millions of dollars of debt ahead of schedule should be a cause for celebration, a frustrated Dunedin city councillor says. Instead, the achievement sparked another verbal tussle between councillors who locked horns over the figures at yesterday’s council finance committee meeting.
    Read more

    • Elizabeth

      Comment at ODT Online:

      Celebrating a debt increase
      Submitted by JimmyJones on Tue, 16/02/2016 – 3:05pm.

      DCC councillors should be focused on the fact that the DCC core debt has increased, not decreased.
      Yesterday they were discussing the financial result for the first 6 months of the financial year (year to 31/12/15). The core debt was $234.0 million, which is an increase of $6.1 million on the debt 12 months earlier ($227.9 million). Just because the financial forecast was wrong is no reason to celebrate. Moving the $30 million of stadium debt from Dunedin Venues Ltd (not DVML) makes no difference to Dunedin ratepayers who are still being forced to pay for this debt (about $1.7 million per year).
      The debt increased by $6.1 million even with asset sales of $4.3 million. Our cheerful councillors might be celebrating even more when they learn how much the DCHL debt has increased by. The DCC credit rating is based on both the core debt and the DCHL debt. The DCHL debt information is not available yet.

  38. Hype O'Thermia

    Yes, welcome to the Grand Illusionist Show, kindly funded to appear in your own magnificent Fubarrr Stadiummmmm!!!
    Attendez-vous carefully ladies and gentlemen of the council and gullible peasants of the rating base.
    We’re shuffling the coins from one pocket to the other while our beautiful assistant Green Jeannie adjusts this scarf over our eyes.
    Voila, or indeed viola, one isn’t averse to a nice string instrument. Abracadabra, gadzooks and shiver-me-timbers, now we pull a glistening golden dollar out of Richard Thomson’s ear.

    Set your stopwatch, see if he can beat his previous record for spending this brand new magically appeared out of nowhere free money!

  39. Anonymous

    That line up of articles by the Allied Press gang reminded me to check on subscriptions… down from 36395 in September 2014 to 34986 in 2015. In the newspaper game that’s tragedy. Would be nice if the paper moved to a more discerning view of council affairs but probably no cents in questioning your mates.

    http://newspaper.abc.org.nz/audit.html?mode=embargo&npa_admin=1&org=npa&publicationtype=19&publicationid=702&memberid=412&type=21

    • Elizabeth

      Oh my! Well done Anonymous. Together with the fifty cent price increase for shop purchase, while the newspaper keeps dieting (so thin! so little news or analysis!), do we see the downward trend continuing.

      • Peter

        If the ODT was not made from newsprint, but tissue, it would be worth it. (A bit time consuming cutting it up into manageable squares though!)

        • Elizabeth

          Some days, Peter, the fish and chip paper has not enough salt.

          But adding ‘noise-ads’ to pages at ODT Online is a fatal blow… Who dreamed up that piece of crap –

  40. JimmyJones

    You would think that with the DCC debt increasing by $6 million over the last year that this would be a reason for concern. Instead the DCC has ways of turning bad news into good news and with the help of its coalition partner, we all now know why we should be celebrating along with Dave Cull, Kate Wilson etc. The question is why do parts of the Ch39 story have the same spin as the ODT story “Councillors disagree on debt repayment”. One possibility is that the DCC comms department wrote both stories. I know that Chris Morris is a real person, but it seems increasingly likely to me that “Chris Morris” and others, are often pseudonyms for the creative journalists at the DCC Communications and Marketing division who seem to have been given direct access to the ODT printing press.

    • Elizabeth

      Correct JimmyJones, and with its large budget DCC Comms can afford to be ‘propaganda city’ and mess with the minds of reporters when they turn up at DCC with blank notepads. Maybe some prep via emailed questions beforehand but on the whole nothing too serious to stir up the fleas at DCC.

    • Diane Yeldon

      JimmyJones: I think misleading media interference in this city is even worse than DCC ‘co-operating ‘ with the ODT, often to put a happy face on bad news. I think DCC is the ‘junior partner’, if they are, in fact, a partner at all – their sometimes sadly lacking performance may merely be incompetence. Rather it may be Allied Press which has an agenda of shaping political opinion in Dunedin – or, at least, is actively trying to. Allied Press (both ODT and Channel 39) reporting on DCC meetings involves ‘cherry-picking’, to say the least. Which I suppose could be attributed to the frailty of journalism rather than conspiracy. But there’s the issue of how candidates and local elected reps are portrayed in local media, and whether Allied Press shows favoritism or the opposite. Or even has protegees and villains. I’ve had a life-long interest in the writing of prose, read and studied a great deal of it and I think many of Dave Cull’s elections speeches and later opinion pieces published in the ODT were (very badly) written by the same person, or, at least, in the same bombastic, rhetorical style, stuffed full of supposedly memorable, quotable phrases. I don’t think that person was Dave Cull because he has often made public statement directly contrary in meaning to some of these opinion pieces. And his professional writing under his own name is nothing like so,… er, … florid. (Just as well!) If some other mayoral candidate starts having opinion pieces, written in exactly the same style, published in the ODT, closer to the election, I won’t be the slightest bit surprised. Instead, I will be scrutinizing their election expenses and thinking about which people, perhaps those with professional media expertise, are ‘volunteering’ to assist with their campaign.

      • Hype O'Thermia

        Diane, what writing? “And his professional writing under his own name is nothing like so,… er, … florid.”
        If book accompanying TV series, these are often written by a journo, with or without close consultation with the “star”/”author”. And then it is filtered through the editing process.

  41. Gurglars

    Its endemic within publicly funded organisations.
    This reference today outlines the spin doctors of the national government “doctoring” methods of evaluating public service performance.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/76957685/government-agencies-inventing-numbers-to-meet-targets-says-report

    As many here have noted, the no responsibility, no judgement era is upon us and a $6 million worsening in DCC debt is celebrated as a win.

    The SDHB are now paying in excess of $200,000 to new spin doctors to inform us that inedible meals are better for the recipients because less will eat them, thus saving the SDHB monies which can go to salary increases for the hard working SDHB executives.

    Until we get accountability to rate and tax payers by elected and salaried officials this larceny by trick will continue.

  42. Anonymous

    Interesting you should say that JimmyJones. I’ve noticed for some time now a certain style and structure afflicting the authors of council articles. It is challenging for a senior reporter to change his or her prose, especially to maintain it whether the reporter tolerates it morally or otherwise. Maybe it’s like a professional sports person employed by an overseas corporation to sit in an office and brought out to play when it suits the team. It’s a lifestyle that could be justified if appropriately rewarded.

    Also noticed just recently a trend to identify and preclude possible objections in an objectionable press release, thereby creating a notion in the reader any dispute is unlikely to be useful. A bit of clever buggery by the Spooks and whichever drone stole that idea from elsewhere probably got their manager a bonus.

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