Tag Archives: Councils

Earthquake-prone Buildings Amendment Bill

The proposed amendment bill raises significant concerns about the maintenance of current building stock, the character and identity of towns and cities, and the economic and financial wellbeing of provincial councils and their communities. More than 7000 buildings south of Timaru would require upgrading, at a cost of $1.77 billion over a 15-year period.

Town Halls Merge 6

### ODT Online Mon, 24 Feb 2014
Councils aghast changes could cost billions
By Andrew Ashton
South Island councils are expected to offer a ”united front” in opposing new Government building regulations that could cost councils billions of dollars to implement.
Last year the Waitaki District Council joined the Dunedin and Invercargill city councils and the Central Otago, Clutha, Gore, Mackenzie, Southland, Timaru and Waimate district councils to present a joint submission on a discussion paper detailing proposed changes to the way earthquake-prone buildings are managed.
Read more

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Image: Town Halls and auxillary functions (clockwise from top left) Invercargill, Dunedin, Timaru and Oamaru – posterised by whatifdunedin

30 Comments

Filed under #eqnz, Architecture, Business, Construction, Democracy, Design, Economics, Geography, Heritage, IPENZ, Media, Name, New Zealand, NZHPT, People, Pics, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Town planning, Urban design, What stadium

LGNZ: OAG report on Kaipara

Updated Post 7.12.13

Link received.
Saturday, December 07, 2013 4:29 PM

Anonymous says:
[An acquaintance] has been very involved with uncovering the Kaipara scandal. We’ve decided it is a genetic fiesty gene. You may be interested in putting up the following Youtube link… There are very similar parallels with the DCC!
See what you think.

Published on 22 Nov 2013. Ecocare Bear.

Mangawhai, Kaipara: When Government Goes Bad!!
Mangawhai Ratepayers and Residents Association (MRRA) goes to court in 2014. Please make donations now at http://www.MRRA.org.nz. We need your support to challenge Kaipara Council’s illegal contracts, illegal loans, 100% rates increases and abuse of law. If successful, our court ruling will help all Kiwis stop out-of-control spending by Councils around New Zealand

****

[via Far North email copy to Whatif? Dunedin]

OAG report on Kaipara
3 December 2013

Dear Mayors, Chairs and Chief Executives

This afternoon, The Office of the Auditor General released its report on the Kaipara District Council’s delivery of its wastewater project at Mangawhai and very shortly will be briefing media. The 400 plus page report (and summary report) is a sobering read. Media coverage is likely to be severe and we need to be ready for that. We would ask that you pass this communication on to all members of your council.

In summary, the Council’s management exhibited a lack of basic financial and project management expertise and little acknowledgement of relevant risks. Kaipara’s councillors also failed to assume governance responsibility for the project, assess its risks and ask the appropriate questions.

It would appear that the only positives [sic] outcomes are that Mangawhai now has a wastewater system that works and has capacity to cater for future growth. Although governance failures are not new in private, public or local government sectors, the report has highlighted significant management and governance failures and successive poor performance with Kaipara District Council’s delivery of its wastewater project.

This performance is not acceptable for local government, whether in the past, present or in the future. As all of us are acutely aware, it reflects very poorly on the sector. However, the issues have occurred – we now need to learn the lessons and take ownership of the broader governance concerns that the OAG has raised.

OAG’s report outlined areas for public sector entities to be aware of based on lessons learnt – these are outlined below. Without doubt there are many strongly governed councils in New Zealand but, as with any organisation, we can always improve. If a focus on governance ensures that a Kaipara is not repeated then the entire sector will gain from that, just as the reputation of the sector is tarnished when things go wrong on such a scale.

As we’ve discussed previously, LGNZ is introducing initiatives to lift the bar. The success of these initiatives will depend on member buy-in. In this regard, the Kaipara episode provides a powerful incentive for the membership to come together to support one another in ensuring that collectively we will strive to ensure that poor performance on this scale is never repeated.

Post-elections training for elected members is now complete. In early 2014, we will launch governance training in conjunction with the Institute of Directors to assess and improve current governance practices in councils. Councils will need to fund this training. In the light of Kaipara, I encourage you to think of such training as an investment in good outcomes and not as an unjustifiable cost.

LGNZ is also soon to introduce its centre for advice and best practice, and has articulated a strong future focus for the sector on financial effectiveness and value. Indeed, a soft launch is already underway with some councils already accessing LGNZ for advice on matters that will form a key focus of the Centre of Excellence.

Governance will be a core focus in the coming triennium. I recommend that you and your council review the report – the 40-page summary may assist here – and consider the relevance of the messages for your council. LGNZ will shortly issue a media release and I will front media as required – we need to acknowledge where there have been failings and show what we are doing to lift performance.

I will continue to write on this subject – including an article which may feature in national media in coming days and in IoD’s [Institute of Directors] Boardroom magazine later this month. It is important that our stakeholders and the public know we are strongly committed to good governance. The video clip on our recent major issues seminar held in Wellington on 21 November – “Why good governance matters in local government” – is available here on our website – this is useful viewing.

I have also provided my speech here. Michael Stiassny, Vice-President of IoD, has made several pertinent points for the sector to consider. We will continue the dialogue, and if you have any feedback for Malcolm [malcolm.alexander @ lgnz.co.nz] or myself [lawrence.yule @ hdc.govt.nz] on this subject, or any other, then please email us.

Kind regards

Lawrence Yule
President

Local Government New Zealand

OAG’s advice to public entities on lesson learnt:

Accountability
● Public entities should be meticulous about legality
● Good record-keeping is the foundation of effective accountability
● Workshops can supplement formal Council meetings, but not replace them
● Contractors need to be tied into public sector accountability mechanisms

Governance
● Understand the role and stick to it
● Common sense is a legitimate governance tool
● Understand what you need assurance on and where you will get it from
● Audit committees can provide useful support

Management
● There are limits to contracting out
● It is important to maintain appropriate financial management capacity and capability and to stick to your sphere of competence
● Project governance and management is important

PPP arrangements
● Do not underestimate what is involved in a PPP arrangement
● Accounting should not drive the decision to enter into a PPP
● Transfer of risk is not an end in itself
● PPPs are unlikely to succeed fully if the contract is not for “the complete package”

Feedback [info @ lgnz.co.nz]

——————————————————————-

[via scoop.co.nz]

Kaipara review shows a need to lift governance performance
Tuesday, 3 December 2013, 2:33 pm
Press Release: Local Government NZ
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1312/S00024/kaipara-review-shows-a-need-to-lift-governance-performance.htm

Related Posts and Comments:
12.11.13 Northland council amalgamation
29.6.13 Audit NZ and OAG clean bill of health —Suspicious!
21.4.13 Councils “in stchook” —finance & policy analyst Larry.N.Mitchell
19.3.12 Local government reform
21.2.12 Kaipara this time

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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Filed under Business, DCC, Democracy, Economics, Media, Name, New Zealand, People, Politics, Project management, What stadium

Northland council amalgamation

### radionz.co.nz Tuesday 12 November  -  12:20 pm NZT
(Updated 38 minutes ago)
RNZ News
Single council for Northland proposed
The Local Government Commission has recommended a single unitary council for the whole of Northland.
The commission at Waitangi on Tuesday revealed its draft proposal for reorganising local government in the region. It proposes one council and one mayor for Northland and a second tier of community boards.
A new nine-member council, to be based in Whangarei, would replace Far North District Council, Whangarei District Council, Kaipara District Council and Northland Regional Council.
The commission also proposes a special council committee to represent Northland’s large Maori population.
RNZ Link

Northland RC boundary map (400) 1

Related Posts and Comments:
29.6.13 Audit NZ and OAG clean bill of health —Suspicious!
21.4.13 Councils “in stchook” —finance & policy analyst Larry.N.Mitchell
19.3.12 Local government reform
21.2.12 Kaipara this time

Posted by Elizabet Kerr

2 Comments

Filed under Business, Democracy, Economics, Geography, Media, New Zealand, People, Politics, Project management

Exercise your right to VOTE

### ODT Online Thu, 3 Oct 2013
Alarm at low voter turnout
By Chris Morris
There are calls for online voting to be fast-tracked as Dunedin City Council voting returns slump towards a record low in this year’s local body elections. The idea was raised by Local Government New Zealand president Lawrence Yule as voter returns for the DCC election crawled to 11.7% by yesterday afternoon.
With 10 days until postal voting closes at noon on October 12, the figure is well down on the same point in the past two DCC elections.
In 2010, 21.12% of voters had responded by now, and in 2007, returns stood at 18.09%. In both cases, last-minute rushes saw returns reaching 52.96% (2010) and 47.47% (2007).
However, this year’s results were shaping as a record low, at least in recent memory, although another last-minute rush was possible, Dunedin electoral officer Pam Jordan said.
Mr Yule told the Otago Daily Times the returns to date in Dunedin were a ”worry” and underscored the need to move towards online voting.
Dunedin’s results appear to be at odds with most other local authorities across Otago, where returns to date are similar to the 2010 election.
Read more

Dunedin electoral information via the DCC website:
http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/your-council/electoral-information

DCC Candidates —Mayor, Councillors, Community Boards

ORC Candidates

SDHB Candidates

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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Alert: Dunedin voters —Mayors gain more powers

Following the 2013 local body elections . . .
THERE IS A MASSIVE GAME CHANGE

Is this why Greater Debt Dunedin’s campaigning so hard, with help from ‘friends’? Read on.

Firstly, ‘overthinking’ an image, and an opinion piece from the Nelson Mail (June 2013). Followed by ‘Friday news’ from New Zealand Herald, reproduced in Saturday’s Otago Daily Times (page 3). Lastly, importantly, you’re urged to VOTE – a plea appearing in the ODT, indicating 9 October is the last date by which to safely post your completed voting papers.

Emperors new clothes [catherinewhite.files.wordpress.com] re-imaged 1VOTE carefully oh so carefully, please

****

### nelsonmail.co.nz Last updated 13:39 12/06/2013
New accountability for mayors
By Keith Marshall
OPINION New law changes passed at the end of last year created some major changes ahead for local government. One of the most important changes, in my view, arises from legally and politically empowering mayors to do the job we expect of them. And, along with that legal empowerment comes some genuine public accountability to perform.
After the coming election, mayors nationwide gain new powers. A mayor will be able to legally appoint their own deputy mayor, appoint all committee chairs and determine the structure of council committees, including which elected councillors are appointed on to those. The legal power to decide their own political teams, structures and processes means that mayors will gain a huge level of political control over councils that they currently do not legally have.
Adding to this direct political control, mayors from the next election onward will also legally be personally responsible for driving the setting of council plans and budgets. This, alone, is a huge change.

Indeed, it may be surprising to learn that currently mayors around the country have no real substantive legal powers – largely the current legal role is one of a “first citizen” and in chairing meetings of the elected council.
Mayors, currently, do not have the legal authority to choose their own political teams nor structures, they do not determine council agendas and nor do they drive council budgets or plans. Right now, those decisions are made by the whole of the elected council and in those decisions, as in all others, mayors have just one vote at the council table, the same as all councillors.
In some ways being a mayor under the current law is a potentially thankless task – one in which they are the public face of the council, and get to be “blamed” for any and all decisions made by the elected council whether or not they personally supported or voted against those decisions.
On the other hand, the current situation also makes it very difficult for us voters to hold our current mayors, and councillors, individually accountable for the decision-making of the whole of the elected council (and the subject of a future column).

In the future, just what and how issues are dealt with will be determined by the mayors themselves; maybe in conjunction with their councillor supporters, or perhaps sometimes even just off their own cognisance.

All decisions of the council will be directly influenced by the mayor through the exercise of their new powers. This is very real political power never before seen in local government in New Zealand – something much more akin to the “presidential” type of mayor as seen in the United States.
Accordingly, at the next council elections, whoever we elect as mayors of Tasman District Council and Nelson City Council will have the legal ability to carry out any election promises they may have made. Any mayoral candidate can set out a vision for us and, unlike at any other time in the past, be in a position to bring that vision into reality if they become mayor. This is a new legal environment for local government.

So what? Well, for one thing, the new law change means that mayors (and their councillor supporters who the mayor will appoint to key roles) will now be more obviously accountable for all decisions. Along with the ability/responsibility to make things happen (via legal powers) goes some true accountability.
Read more

● Keith Marshall is a company director and the former Nelson City Council chief executive. Previously, he has owned Thrifty Rental Cars NZ, managed the last nationwide health reforms and participated in the NZ-China FTA negotiations.

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### nzherald.co.nz 1:35 PM Friday Sep 27, 2013
Mayors given extra powers
By Rebecca Quilliam
Mayors throughout the country will become more powerful under new law changes set to come into action after October’s local elections. The changes will allow mayors to appoint their own deputies, set the structure of committees and appoint committee chairpeople.
Local Government New Zealand president Lawrence Yule said the changes had the potential to bring real benefits. It enabled new councils to “hit the ground running” and for councillors to work more effectively together, Mr Yule said.

Mayors would become responsible for driving the set up of major plans and budgets, which included long-term and annual plans.

They would also be more accountable for their decisions, Mr Yule said.
The law changes bring all the country’s councils in line with the powers already granted to the Auckland Mayor under the Super City process. The new powers would encourage cross-council collaboration because, in order to use them, a mayor needed the majority support of councillors, he said.
Voting papers for city, district and regional councils have now been sent out. These must be returned posted or hand-delivered in time to reach the relevant electoral officer by noon on October 12. APNZ
NZH Link

****

DUNEDIN
Participation in electoral process urged (ODT 18.9.13)
http://www.odt.co.nz/elections-2013/dunedin/273671/participation-electoral-process-urged

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Image via catherinewhite.files.wordpress.com – ‘Emperor’s new clothes’ re-spun by Whatifdunedin

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DCC: Council consolidated debt $623 million

If taken together, core council and stadium debt has increased $130 million, from $240 million to $370 million, during the past three years.

### ODT Online Thu, 26 Sep 2013
Varied stances on question of debt
By Chris Morris
Dunedin’s debt mountain is reaching new heights, but the Dunedin City Council says everything is under control. Reporter Chris Morris speaks to the city’s mayoral candidates about whether they would do anything differently. The eight men and one woman who want to be Dunedin’s next mayor are divided over debt. They are divided over the figures, divided over the plan and divided over what they would do differently.
Some have declared themselves happy with the Dunedin City Council’s approach to debt repayments. Others remain opposed, and have called for cost-cutting, more money from the council’s companies and even for assets to be sold, including Wall Street mall and Forsyth Barr Stadium. And, in the meantime, the debt mountain continues to climb towards a projected peak that is still two years away.

As it stands, the council’s consolidated debt – shared between the council, its companies and the stadium – has reached $623 million, council staff confirmed yesterday.

That was up $125 million since the start of incumbent Mayor Dave Cull’s term in mid-2010, albeit mostly – but not completely – as a result of spending on major capital projects agreed to by previous councils.
Within the debt mountain, core council debt – the bit ratepayers are directly responsible for servicing – stands at $225 million. That has actually gone down $15 million, from $240 million in 2010, but only because stadium debt – totalling $145 million – has been split from the core council debt tally, to become its own category, since 2010. Add the $253 million in debt held by Dunedin City Holdings Ltd and its subsidiaries – the council’s group of companies – and the total reaches $623 million.
Read more + Mayoral Candidate Views

****

Mayoral candidates 2013Dunedin Mayoral Candidates 2013
Left to right, (top) Hilary Calvert, Dave Cull, Kevin Dwyer, (middle) Pete George, Aaron Hawkins, Olivier Lequeux, (bottom) Steve McGregor, Lee Vandervis, Andrew Whiley

DCC website — electoral information

Council Elections: STV Q&A – see Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgelar

Faces appearing – and disappearing – in all manner of places (ODT 26.9.13)

Vote

### ODT Online Thu, 26 Sep 2013
Editorial: Rights and responsibilities
While the eyes of some people glaze over at the mention of local body elections, the fact is they offer the biggest opportunity for the average citizen to influence the direction of their community for the next three years – and often much further into the future.
Postal voting papers should now have been delivered to households, and voters have until Saturday, October 12, to make decisions about who they want to represent them as mayor, on city or district councils, community boards, licensing trusts, regional councils and health boards.
The choices we make in these local body elections will affect us, and others in our community. They influence everything from the health services we receive, to roading, water and sewerage infrastructure, social, cultural and sporting and recreational amenities, and planning and development. There are services we take for granted, those we believe are fundamental to our lives, those we bemoan the lack of, and inefficiencies we believe frustrating or unnecessary.
The choices should not be made lightly. Voters are encouraged to carefully read their supplied candidate and voting information and as much other material as they can source in order to make informed decisions about those who will then be expected to make educated decisions on behalf of us.
Read more

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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Filed under Business, DCC, DCHL, Democracy, DVL, DVML, Economics, Media, Name, New Zealand, People, Pics, Politics, Project management, Stadiums, What stadium

Events Notice: How do I vote using STV? #Dunedin

A public talk by University of Otago Politics Department on voting in New Zealand under the STV system. Questions such as “How does STV work for me?” and “How is my vote counted under STV?” will be answered.

Thanks for the alert this morning.

Janet Gebbie
Submitted on 2013/09/19 at 7:52 am

Voting using STV
Dept of Politics at University of Otago presenting a public talk : How do I vote in local government elections using STV?

Event 1 – Wed 25 Sept 6:30pm, Barclay Theatre (Otago Museum).

Event 2 – Thurs 26 Sept 6:30pm, St Andrew’s Lounge, Caversham Presbyterian Church, Thorn Street, Caversham, Dunedin.

More information:
https://www.dunedin.govt.nz/events/talks-classes-and-workshops/how-do-i-vote-using-stv

Politics | Phone: 03 479 8663 | Email: politics @ otago.ac.nz | Website: http://www.otago.ac.nz/politicalstudies/

Related Posts and Comments:
26.8.10 In defence of STV
22.8.10 Why NOT…. the STV voting system

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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Local body elections: Voting papers due #Dunedin

The *calibre* of unknown candidates, known candidates, and all those “standing again” for the lack of transparency and non-accountability to continue at Dunedin City Council… is set to rack and torture all good voting citizens who want the council SORTED financially. Bankrupt DCC, we hear you say?

Dunedin City Council – Media Release
Voting Papers Out Soon

This item was published on 18 Sep 2013.

Voting papers for the October local body elections will be arriving in letterboxes from Friday.

The Electoral Officer for the Dunedin City Council, the Otago Regional Council and the Southern District Health Board, Pam Jordan, says the elections are held by postal vote and voting papers will arrive from 20 September to 25 September.

Voting papers must be mailed back in time to be received by 12 noon on Election Day, Saturday 12 October.

If you have not received your voting papers by 26 September, you can cast a special vote. To get special voting papers posted out phone 03 477 4000 or email specialvotes @ dcc.govt.nz. Alternatively, people can visit the Special Voting Booth in the Plaza Meeting Room in the Civic Centre, which will be open from 20 September. The booth will be open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm, and also on the morning of 12 October.

The Dunedin City Council and Southern District Health Board elections will be conducted under the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, while the Otago Regional Council will be elected under the First Past the Post (FPP) system.

Election information, including details about STV, is available at http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/elections.

This year, names on the voting papers will be in random order for the DCC, ORC and SDHB. Each voting paper will be unique.

Contact Electoral Officer on 03 477 4000.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

3 Comments

Filed under Business, CST, DCC, DCHL, Delta, Democracy, DVL, DVML, Economics, Geography, Hot air, Hotel, Media, Museums, ORFU, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Sport, Stadiums, Tourism, Town planning, University of Otago, Urban design, What stadium

Busted hacks! Media rates Cull and shiny-arsed suit brigade

Comment received.

ODT Watch
Submitted on 2013/08/06 at 2:01 pm

I see Robin Charteris, former ODT editor, has written a letter to today’s ODT concerning the proposal for a regional political party of some description. What a woeful, intellectually light letter it is too. Unbelievable for a man who once was an editor of a city daily.
He would like Ian Taylor to head it and to include Stuart McLauchlan, Dave Cull, Peter McIntyre and Richard Thomson. Talk about a less than subtle plug for the election coming up. Sorry, Robin, you have overplayed this one.

ODT 6.8.13 Opinion page (detail) re-imaged

SMELL THAT SWEET SUCCESS
The stadium, ORFU, Delta, Hillside, lack of core infrastructure investment, St Clair seawall, +$650M council consolidated debt, storm damage, multimillion-dollar cycleways, ratepayer subsidy to DVML/attraction fund, NZ Post, SH88 realignment, Invermay, centralisation of health board jobs, on it goes . . . Cull drops out of the race to take up L(l)ama farming. [Thanks, Critic]

Ineffectuals like Cull lap up the current job-loss situation, grandstanding in the pre-election period wearing nothing but dull leaden boots. Where are Eion Edgar’s ‘men’? —are they really Sir J’s scrubby old team? The club armchairs have lost their stuffing.

### ODT Online Tue, 6 Aug 2013
Call to action goes out
By Rebecca Fox
A “call to action” has been issued to southern business, local government, agricultural and tertiary education leaders from Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull as part of the fight against job losses at AgResearch’s Invermay campus. Mr Cull has organised a “summit” meeting on August 14 to discuss the announcement proposing that 85 jobs are to go from Invermay by 2016. Mr Joyce confirmed in Saturday’s Otago Daily Times he was happy to arrange for the board and executives of AgResearch to meet local representatives and said he was prepared to meet a delegation of civic and business leaders to talk about regional development.
Read more

Other ODT ‘bait’:
5.8.13 Call for South to form own party
3.8.13 Editorial: Time for South to fight

Related Posts and Comments:
2.8.13 DCC, Stadium —sorry picture
8.6.13 DCC electoral candidates 2013
22.5.13 Dunedin mayoralty and the Q-town heavies

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Images: odt.co.nz – Opinion 6.8.13, critic.co.nz – Critic culls Cull 5.5.13

28 Comments

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Nominations, TWO WEEKS to go !!!

Voting [123rf.com] 2

Nominations for Dunedin City councillorships and the mayoralty close on Friday 16 August.

So far, VERY POOR turnout —about the same for individual nominees’ expertise and capability.

Related Posts and Comments:
8.6.13 DCC electoral candidates 2013
22.5.13 Dunedin mayoralty and the Q-town heavies

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Image: 123rf.com – voting

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Dunedin, ‘small government’ —Calvert

Hilary Calvert with Rodney Hide, ACT [stuff.co.nz] 1Previous exploits, Hilary Calvert with ACT’s Rodney Hide [Photo: Stuff]

### ODT Online Wed, 17 Jul 2013
City where the real world meets the hypothetical
By Hilary Calvert
OPINION We heard through the Otago Daily Times that Dunedin must prepare for life in a changing world through an energy plan. Apparently, according to the Dunedin City Council, we need a plan to boost our ability to adapt to future change and to take advantage of economic opportunities in a changing energy context. We also must save costs and enhance quality of life resulting from energy-efficient improvements and reduce our climate change and environmental effects.
Currently, our debt is unsustainable, and it is likely, with the good job Paul Orders has been doing, we have reduced spending as much as we usefully can without making some hard decisions. We have high debt, rates running at much more than the CPI increase, which funds many households, and little understanding, it would appear, of the economic reality within which we are operating.

The council does not have capital sitting around looking for inspirational or aspirational projects to back.

Throughout New Zealand, a new group has been formed called Affordablecity. The basic idea of Affordablecity is that each candidate, or each local party with these ideas, agrees to support five core principles:

1. Lower rates.
2. Balanced budgets.
3. Making housing affordable.
4. Spending only on the basics.
5. Restoring private property rights.

They are also focused on core activities of councils, as described in section 11A of the Local Government Act; namely infrastructure, public transport, sewage, avoidance or mitigation of natural hazards, and libraries, museums reserves etc.
Read more

● Hilary Calvert is a Dunedin resident with an interest in small government.

[Does she mean ‘local government’? But hey! there’s nothing small about Dunedin, right? We’re “punching above our weight”, say the Old Boys.]

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

4 Comments

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Leave Otago white collar criminals ALONE, and other unfairness

AnneTolley PaulaBennett [3news.co.nz + zimbio.com]Ministers: Anne Tolley & Paula Bennett

### ODT Online Mon, 15 Jul 2013
Proceeds of crime forfeited
By Hamish McNeilly
Police have seized millions of dollars worth of assets – including almost $1 million from criminals in Otago and Southland – since a tough new law came into force. The Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act took effect on December 1, 2009. Assets worth an estimated $29 million have been forfeited, including cash ($10.48 million), properties ($13.67 million) and vehicles ($2 million). […] Figures released to the ODT under the Official Information Act show 14 assets with an estimated value of $862,105.22 have been forfeited in the Southern district.
Read more

● Whereabouts of Michael Swann assets?
People can contact Dunedin police on (03) 471-4800 or via the anonymous Crimestoppers line, 0800-555-111.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Images: 3news.co.nz – Anne Tolley, zimbio.com – Paula Bennett

77 Comments

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Audit NZ and OAG clean bill of health —Suspicious!

Received from Martin Legge
Saturday, 29 June 2013 9:53 a.m.

Learn how the Kaipara council was repeatedly given a clean bill of health by Audit NZ despite the massive debt and obvious governance problems.

Compares with how OAG assured me they were closely monitoring the TTCF investigation into how it was that ORFU and Racing were able to fleece $7 million from the South Auckland community. The truth is, DIA lost that file and therefore didn’t investigate and instead deliberately covered the loss up. OAG appear OK with this and issued DIA with a clean bill of health.

Our trust and faith in the work of these well resourced “highly educated desk jockeys” is misplaced!!!

### NZ Herald Online Saturday, 29 Jun 2013 8:48 AM
Fresh probe begins into debt-ridden council
By Andrew Laxon
The commissioners of debt-ridden Kaipara District Council have begun a new inquiry into its past financial decisions, including the advice it received from former chief executive Jack McKerchar. The tiny Northland council is struggling under an $80 million debt, a long-running rates strike and court action by its own ratepayers over more than $17 million of illegally set rates dating back to 2006. Its former councillors stepped down last year in response to a damning report, making way for Government-appointed commissioners.

Three inquiries are under way into what went wrong. They consist of

● An Auditor-General’s investigation into how the cost of a sewerage scheme at Mangawhai blew out from $11 million in 1999 to $62 million, creating most of the council’s debt.
● An independent inquiry into how the Audit Office failed to notice the excessive debt and repeatedly gave the council a clean bill of health.
● The commissioners’ investigation into other financial transactions they have discovered since taking over last September and see as questionable.

Northland MP Mike Sabin told Parliament ratepayers had been woefully let down by the council’s “mismanagement, incompetence, carelessness and dysfunctional governance”. Mr Sabin, who is sponsoring a local bill to retrospectively validate the illegal rates, said the bill was necessary to keep the council functioning but it would not allow anyone responsible for poor decisions to duck the consequences.
The separate inquiry into the Audit Office’s actions, undertaken by Auditing and Assurance Standards Board chairman Neil Cherry, was not finished.
Read more

Related Posts and Comments:
21.4.13 Councils “in stchook” —finance & policy analyst Larry.N.Mitchell
31.3.13 DIA and OAG stuff up bigtime #pokierorts
21.2.13 DIA, SFO investigation #pokierorts
3.11.12 Stadium: DCC caught in headlights
29.10.12 DCC consolidated debt substantially more than $616m
21.2.12 Kaipara this time

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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SFO investigates Taupo District Council

### stuff.co.nz Last updated 16:49 17/06/2013
SFO investigates Taupo District Council
By Mike Watson – Waikato Times
The Serious Fraud Office has launched an investigation into alleged fraud at the Taupo District Council but would not reveal the reason for the inquiry. SFO acting chief executive Simon McArley today confirmed the agency was investigating the council after a complaint had been lodged.
“We have received complaints in matters relating to Taupo District Council,” Mr McArley said. “The SFO is continuing its investigation of those matters but is unable to provide any further detail in relation to them at this time.”
Stuff Link

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### rotoruadailypost.co.nz 18 Jun 2013 11:45 AM Updated: 1:25 PM
Update: SFO investigating Taupo District Council
By Laurilee McMichael
Taupo Mayor Rick Cooper says he’s aghast, shattered and stunned at news the Taupo District Council is being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office. Mr Cooper said he doesn’t know what the alleged fraud is in relation to or who it involves but said it’s definitely not him. However he’s challenging whoever made the complaint or complaints to “put up or shut up” and notes that there is a local government election in October. He believes there’s a vendetta against the council and that people are trying to manipulate public opinion.

Mr Cooper and the Taupo district councillors were informed last week the SFO had launched an investigation but were given no more detail.

The SFO focuses on serious or complex fraud in which there are multiple victims, the sum of money lost exceeds $2 million, or has significant legal or financial complexity beyond the resources of most other law enforcement agencies. Its brief includes bribery and corruption crimes involving public officials.
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DCC electoral candidates 2013

DCClogo_landscape (1)

Update 16.8.13
The full nominations list is published today at
DCC nominations —All the mops, brooms and feather dusters

So far . . .
14.8.13 Mayoral candidates expand to five
14.8.13 Cr Bill Acklin (stadium supporter) not standing
10.8.13 DCC nominations on a par with 2010
19.6.13 Cr Syd Brown, FSD Chairman (stadium supporter) leaving council
8.6.13 Electoral challenge to Brown intensifies

Mayoral candidates confirmed:
Hilary Calvert (independent), Mayor Dave Cull (Greater Dunedin), Kevin Dwyer (independent), Aaron Hawkins (Green Party), Andrew Whiley (independent)

Mayoral nominations not received:
Olivier Lequeux (independent), Cr Lee Vandervis (independent)

Central Ward candidates confirmed:
David Benson-Pope (independent), Cr John Bezett (independent), Hilary Calvert (independent), Ali Copeman (Greater Dunedin), Kevin Dwyer (independent), Pete George (indendent), Aaron Hawkins (Green Party), Francisco Hernandez (independent), Tat Loo (?), Cr Jinty MacTavish (Greater Dunedin), Kevin Neill (?), Neville Peat (independent), Deputy Mayor Chris Staynes (Greater Dunedin), Cr Teresa Stevenson (independent), Cr Richard Thomson (Greater Dunedin), Warren Voight (?), Andrew Whiley (independent)

Mosgiel-Taieri Ward candidates confirmed:
Martin Dillon (independent), Mike Lord (Greater Dunedin), Cr Kate Wilson (Greater Dunedin)

Waikouaiti Coast-Chalmers Ward candidates confirmed:
Cr Andrew Noone (independent)

Stepping down:
Cr Bill Acklin, Cr Syd Brown, Cr Fliss Butcher, Cr Neil Collins, Cr Colin Weatherall

Nominations not received:
Calvin Fisher (union official), Doug Hall (businessman), Cr Paul Hudson (independent), Irene Mosley (Greater Dunedin), Letisha Nicholas (Greater Dunedin), Cr Lee Vandervis (independent)

Related Post and Comments:
12.8.13 ELECTION NEWS: Stadium councillors getting the message!
6.8.13 Busted hacks! Media rates Cull and shiny-arsed suit brigade
3.8.13 Nominations, TWO WEEKS to go !!!
24.7.13 DCC / DCHL shake up !!!
17.7.13 Dunedin, ‘small government’ —Calvert
15.7.13 Delta, Carisbrook, Fubar Stadium —Councillors “weak”, or worse
12.7.13 Hudson, DCC (ex DCHL)
22.5.13 Dunedin mayoralty and the Q-town heavies

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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Councils “in schtook” —finance & policy analyst Larry Mitchell

Received Sun, 21 Apr 2013 14:45:37 +1200
Topic ring a bell? We are using DCC and Kaipara as the salutary case studies.

Larry N. Mitchell
Finance & Policy Analyst (Local Government)

PO Box 404 103, Puhoi 0951, Auckland, New Zealand
Phone: 09 422 0598 Mobile: 027 479 2328
Email: larry@kauriglen.co.nz

Read here or scroll to end of post to download this paper.

Councils “in stchook”
… their debt is way too high … it matters … so do proper disclosures

Dealing as I do, with matters of New Zealand Council finances, the one area that produces most comment, sometimes heated debate, is Council debt. Public discussion of Council debt is muddled, an often fractious difference of opinion generating more heat than light.

For example, the most recent (March 2013) Office of the Auditor General’s report of their findings from New Zealand Local Government audits concludes that Councils have their debt levels “within a reasonable range”. Recent New Zealand Local Government Association press releases concur.

Compare these reassuring findings to those of the 2013 NZ LG League Table where the lowest ranked 15% (10 in number) of New Zealand Councils are revealed as exhibiting unfavourable financial sustainability and community affordability issues. Both contradictory positions can’t be right. Unfortunately, the debate over Council debt is complicated by unsatisfactory public reporting-disclosures.

Discussions of Council debt are often compounded by current Council practices. These amount to opaque, imprecise Council debt accounting and “smoke and mirrors” disclosures. It is tempting to suggest that these are deliberate attempts to suppress discussion of Council debt on a “don’t scare the horses” basis.

This is particularly evident for use of the term by Councils of “Internal Borrowing”, a meaningless label, better described as “Robbing Peter”, covering as it does Council treasury management dealings involving a clear misuse (some might say misappropriation) of asset replacement funds.

Add to these sleights of hand a motivation for the more highly indebted Councils to keep their heads down when their debt totals soar, along with a tendency toward misinformation.
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Local Government Act Amendment Bill

Federated Farmers
Media Release

Local Government Bill passes, but funding must be next

30/11/2012 4:10:00 p.m.

Federated Farmers welcomes the passage of the Local Government Act Amendment Bill, but more must be done to contain and reduce the rates burden.

“The passage of the Bill is good news for ratepayers. Since 2002 rates have increased an average of 7 percent per year,” Ms Milne says.

“This growth is unsustainable and to rein it in councils and communities need better guidance and clarity on local government spending priorities.

“The Bill does this by changing the purpose of local government away from its activist, open-ended job description towards something more like what most people think local government should focus on: local infrastructure, local public services and local regulation.

“However, the Bill really just tinkers at the margin and will only go part of the way to containing and reducing the rates burden.

“What‘s needed now is funding reform, which so far has been the missing element of the Government’s work.

“It is well known that rates fall heavily and inequitably, with farmers being particularly hard hit. Far too many farmers pay more than $20,000 per year in general rates to fund activities they barely use or benefit from.

“What is perhaps less well understood is that funding policy also affects councils’ regulatory performance, especially when central government makes laws for councils to enforce, but does not provide any resources. The incentives are all wrong.

“We also think limited funding options are a factor in housing affordability, for example when councils impose high development contributions that push up the costs of sections.

“The burden of funding local government must be spread more equitably and that means moving away from the over-reliance on a 17th century system of property value rates and finding new and better tools for councils operating in the 21st century.

“Federated Farmers has always been up for this debate. With growing concern about housing affordability we sense the time is right to make some progress,” Ms Milne says.

For further information contact:

Katie Milne, Federated Farmers rural security spokesperson, 0274 244 546, 03 738 0189

Link to article

Related Post:
24.9.12 DCC against imposition of local government reforms

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Govt to open up more land for houses

Twenty years ago the average price of a house cost around four times the average income but now it is nearly double that.

### tvnz.co.nz 5:30AM Monday October 29, 2012
‘No silver bullet’ for housing affordability crisis – PM
Source: ONE News
Prime Minister John Key says fast tracking the supply of land should help solve the current housing affordability crisis. The long-awaited housing plan is due to go before Cabinet today to be signed off, seven months after the Productivity Commission released a report on housing affordability. […] “The sorts of things the Productivity Commission is talking about, and the Government’s going to adopt, is how do we speed up the supply of land so that’s both what we call greenfields, paddocks sitting out there that you extend the urban limit, and secondly brownfield development, so that’s where you don’t have a lot of intensification in a certain area but you allow that to happen more quickly.” […] The soaring price of property has been blamed on a shortage of availability, and Key told TVNZ Breakfast this morning that changing the Resource Management Act (RMA) to speed up the development of land will help solve the supply and demand issue. He said the RMA process at the moment it is often arduous and long – to the detriment of the consumer.
Read more + Videos [Link not available]

New Zealand Productivity Commission
http://www.productivity.govt.nz/

“We’ve got to be careful about Government not blundering in here too much into council business because we don’t understand all the local issues.”

The Government plans to change local government legislation and the Resource Management Act to make it easier for developers to build houses. Finance Minister Bill English wants to make more land available for housing – and to speed up consent processes. [Today] he will take a paper to Cabinet, outlining a response to a Productivity Commission report on housing affordability. Finance Minister Bill English said the cost of building is too high and there is a supply shortage, particularly of good quality, lower priced housing.
DOMINION POST

“The Government owns $15 billion worth of houses, and, in most cities, the best opportunities … [are] on the government-owned Housing Corp land.”

Tackling the high cost of home ownership:
* Government will work with councils on urban planning to make it easier to build houses on “greenfield” sites outside city boundaries and on “brownfield” sites within cities.
* Further Tamaki Transformation-style redevelopments of state housing assets will be done.
* Changes will be made to the Local Government and Resource Management Act to make it easier, quicker and cheaper to build houses.
* Building costs will be reduced through work on the Building Act.
NZ HERALD

### radionz.co.nz Monday 29 October 2012
Morning Report with Geoff Robinson & Simon Mercep
07:15 Government to change rules to make houses more affordable
The Finance Minister, Bill English, has indicated that changing the planning and consent process is among the changes. (4′57″)
Audio | Download: Ogg Vorbis MP3 | Embed

### radionz.co.nz Monday 29 October 2012
Morning Report with Geoff Robinson & Simon Mercep
08:12 Cabinet to decide today to relax planning rules for housing
The Cabinet will decide today on changes aimed at making new houses more affordable. (3′13″)
Audio | Download: Ogg Vorbis MP3 | Embed

### radionz.co.nz Monday 29 October 2012
Nine To Noon with Kathryn Ryan
11:07 Politics with Matthew Hooton and Josie Pagani
Talking today about the Governments response to the productivity commission. (24′02″)
Audio | Download: Ogg Vorbis MP3 | Embed

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Local government change: council rates, core services, efficiencies

The Dunedin City Council and Otago Regional Council in May confirmed they were considering the potential benefits of merging.

### ODT Online Wed, 25 Jul 2012
Editorial: The role of local government
Local and central government are set to go head to head when the issue of what councils would like and what they can afford to provide for their communities is debated as part of the Better Local Government law changes before Parliament. Prime Minister John Key has called for local authorities to cut spending to keep rates affordable and has said the Government would like to see more council mergers. Speaking at the Local Government New Zealand conference in Queenstown last week, Mr Key told delegates the job would not be an easy one. They faced high expectations – but “we all have to face up to making difficult choices”. That is correct, of course. Businesses and households make difficult choices every day. And decision-makers must realise increases in public spending often put pressure on those who can least afford it. There is no doubt council spending on big-budget projects, viewed by many as “non-core” council business, fuels frustration in communities.

One thing is certain: if local authorities are against changes to their structure, and communities remain as divided about such matters as whether ocean-side drives should be for pedestrians or vehicles (or even dog sleds and skiers), the regional debate about those issues – let alone rates, priorities and costs – will surely drown out the current discussions in Parliament.

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Dunedin City Council is over extended… the result of ten years of imprudent debt funding (core business and pet projects), and a lack of overall conservative management on behalf of residents and ratepayers. Cr Syd Brown claims the council’s debt – excluding its companies – stands at $217 million, following the transfer of stadium debt to Dunedin Venues Ltd. This is how your elected representatives and council staff operate, entirely through obfuscation and fudging of true debt levels and annual spending by the city council and its entities.

### ODT Online Wed, 25 Jul 2012
Costs will rise: mayor
By Chris Morris
Ratepayers across New Zealand – including those in Dunedin – could be left to foot the bill as local government reforms drive up the cost of borrowing for councils, it has been claimed. The warning came as Dunedin city councillors prepared to complete their response to the Better Local Government reforms at a Dunedin City Council finance, strategy and development committee meeting today. The reforms – unveiled in March – included plans to introduce new benchmarks to assess the financial performance of councils, as part of a push to control local government debt levels and limit rates increases. However, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the reforms “run the risk of doing exactly the opposite” by forcing up the council’s debt-servicing costs by $1 million a year.

Local Government Minister David Carter rejected the claims last night, saying “the exact opposite” could happen if new rules inspired greater confidence in council financial decision-making.

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Larry Mitchell: 2012 Local Govt League Table Summary

Press Release
Councils continue to struggle and spend … May 25th Release of the League Table

2012 Local Government League Table Executive Summary

• The 2012 LGLT covering all 67 New Zealand territorial local authorities ‘fits’ neatly within the Government’s recent announcements of local government reforms and validates (from its data) public concerns of some poor Council performance. No Council scores higher than 36 out of 50 for the financial and economic metricated measures of the LGLT;

• The bulk of Councils score only ‘Fair’ results (with scores of from 23 to 30 on the 50 point metric scale) and are ranked in a range from 31st to 57th out of 67 compared to their peers;

• Auckland Council has yet to provide meaningful public information on its financial performance improvement programmes. No useful Auckland Council comparisons with the pre-amalgamation financial and economic status of its seven predecessor Councils has been provided by which the Auckland Council’s comparative post-amalgamation performance could be gauged;

‘At risk’ Councils – the ten poorest performers – whose ‘stats’ indicate a combination of unsustainable Council finances and/or unaffordable rates or charges include the Kaipara District (whose present difficulties are well known). Kaipara is the biggest downgrade dropping 49 places to 65th out of 67 for its metric results – plus it receives a double red traffic light downgrade warning;

• Hauraki and Upper Hutt have regressed, the latter has dropped 15 places to 58th … in spite of recent announcements that the Mayor and Council have declined their increased salaries! Kaipara and Tararua have yet to file audited accounts;

• The ‘Southern Scots’, Clutha and Southland Districts have swapped the top two places at the head of this (parsimonious) League Table;

• The LGLT uses financial and economic assessment ratios closely allied to the measures that by law will soon be introduced for all Councils relating to their financial management performance and public reporting;

• The 2012 League Table indicates little overall performance improvement in 2011-2012;

• The metric measures have scarcely moved from an average of 30 out of 50 last year to 29 out of 50 in 2012. The consistency of these results over the three or more years of the assessments suggest a reliability and robustness of the methodology;

• Two Councils – Queenstown and Carterton are the biggest improvers both making the top 10 for the first time.

All enquiries to Larry.N.Mitchell, Finance & Policy Analyst (Local Government)
Phone 09 4220598, email larry at kauriglen dot co dot nz or see website www.kauriglen.co.nz/larry select BASE STATS WITH TRENDZ/LEAGUE TABLE.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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Kaipara this time

If the council does not raise the rates, the Government will install a commissioner who will.

### radionz.co.nz Updated 19 minutes ago
Kaipara mayor warns of leap in rates
Kaipara district mayor Neil Tiller has confirmed the small Northland rural district is facing massive rate rises to cope with its debt crisis, saying the council has been forced to resort to borrowing to “pay for its groceries”.
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### radionz.co.nz Updated at 12:45 pm today
Farming leader calls for council to resign
A Northland farming leader has taken out an ad in his local paper claiming the Kaipara District Council is bankrupt and the council should resign. The operations director of Farmers of New Zealand, Bill Guest, says the small council is now nearly $90 million in debt.
Read more

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Local government finances

Are many councils about to hit the wall financially and what impact will that have on the rates you pay?

### rnz.co.nz Monday 4 July 2011 at 09:08
Nine To Noon with Kathryn Ryan
Are many councils about to hit the wall financially?
Larry N. Mitchell is an independent finance and policy consultant and Lawrence Yule is President of Local Government New Zealand and Hastings Mayor.
Audio Ogg Vorbis MP3 (27′05″)

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Ho ho ho, restraint – what’s that?

DCC hasn’t got the message. Still doing stupid deals behind scenes; and look at the inexperience around the council table – FRIGHTENING.

###Last updated 05:00 21/04/2011
Councils ditch projects in favour of restraint
By Katie Chapman
Business as usual is the new catchcry for councils as they ditch big projects in favour of restraint. Throughout New Zealand, people are being asked to comment on their local authorities’ draft annual plans – and proposed rates increases – as debate over next year’s budgets gets under way. But big blowouts have been abandoned, with more than half the councils proposing increases below the rate of inflation, which rose to 4.5 per cent this week.
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### ODT Online Thu, 21 Apr 2011
Extraordinary meeting
An extraordinary non-public meeting of the Dunedin City Council was held last night to discuss the Citibus sale and the community pools upgrade.
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21.4.11 ODT Editorial: Era ends for Dunedin buses

In the jargon of business, Citibus has made efforts to be a “good corporate citizen” . . . The question must be asked about the ability of the council, even at arm’s length through a company structure and with independent directors, to run successful businesses in highly competitive markets.

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Tweet:
@10PARK Fuck (oops) – DCC has a “MoveMe” marketing campaign… http://bit.ly/g7tAaY *criesandcries

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We love National. NOT. GST effect on rates.

### ODT Online Thu, 8 Apr 2010
GST rise would push rates up
By Chris Morris
Ratepayers across Otago face the possibility of unscheduled rates hikes within months if the Government confirms plans to lift GST as high as 15%. The warning came from most Otago councils yesterday, after Dunedin City Council finance and corporate support general manager Athol Stephens highlighted the likely effect of an expected GST hike.

In Dunedin, the increase would add an additional 1.67% to city council rates forecasts for the 2010-11 financial year, taking the rise from 5.3% to 6.97%. A further 0.55% jump would occur in 2011-12, from 9% to 9.55%.

The cost of the council’s planned capital expenditure programme – including the Forsyth Barr Stadium – would not be affected, as the council could claim back GST on capital projects, making increases “cash neutral”.
-Athol Stephens, DCC finance and corporate support general manager

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Post by Elizabeth Kerr

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Consulting ratepayers

### ODT Online Mon, 2 Mar 2009
Councils should consult ratepayers before raising rates – Hide

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide wants rates capped at the rate of inflation and says councils should seek approval from ratepayers before raising them above that.

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Previous posts:

### Sorry saga of cost overruns, Kerr 11 February 2009

### A pleasant afternoon with Council 9 February 2009

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