Tag Archives: Irrational councillors

Editorial spin, disagrees?!

The Editor’s reply (ODT 23.1.13):
Russell Garbutt: Thanks for your comments but we don’t agree with them.

[Email]

From: Russell and Bev Garbutt
Sent: Tuesday, 22 January 2013 10:46 a.m.
To: ‘editor@odt.co.nz’
Subject: Letter for publication

[Contact details deleted. -Eds]

The Editor
Otago Daily Times
Dunedin

Dear Sir

Your editorial on the urgent need for an austerity budget for Dunedin is too little too late.

For years now at Council Plan consultation meetings also attended by your reporters, the financial stupidity of the Council’s decisions have been graphically pointed out by a long line of submitters. The practice of Council owned companies being forced to borrow to pay dividends which you now describe as being “worse than poor” was emphasised by a large number of submitters, but largely ignored by the ODT for many years.

While ultimately all of the spending decisions made by the Council are those of the Councillors – many clearly out of their depth – the weight of public opinion assisted by informed and investigative stories by the City’s only daily paper, has no small part to play in what has happened in this town over recent years. It is hard to see why the ODT has failed to meet its obligations or role in this regard. Many believe that it is because the ODT is a strong supporter of the stadium which has caused a major part of this debt, and of its proponents and major user.

While the ODT has adopted a position of supporting the new rugby stadium, even now that the full costs of the stadium are more or less known, your position is that you appear to be supporting the establishment of a significant fund to subsidise the use of the stadium – despite your reluctant acknowledgement that while the fund will cost the ratepayers dearly, there is no believable data that shows any tangible benefit.

I look forward to the ODT being part of the process in holding those that have made the decisions that have put Dunedin into these astronomical levels of debt responsible and accountable – but I’m not holding my breath.

Russell Garbutt

Read Russell’s comments in reply here.

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22.1.13 ‘Liability Cull’ and council chasten for election year

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DCC Draft Annual Plan 2013/14 – ‘Liability Cull’ and council chasten for election year

“Levels of debt are still high … you cannot say we are in a comfortable position – far from it.” -Orders

### ODT Online Tue, 22 Jan 2013
Tight years ahead for Dunedin
By Chris Morris
A decade of discipline is needed to protect the Dunedin City Council’s fragile finances until debt repayments ease the fiscal squeeze, council chief executive Paul Orders says. The warning came as Mr Orders confirmed the council was set to remain beyond a self-imposed debt ratio limit for at least the next three-year council term. The council’s 2013-14 pre-draft budget – to be considered by councillors later this week – showed the council would begin repaying more debt than it was borrowing for the first time in 10 years.

Mr Orders said the council would still have “little or no” headroom for new spending until 2022.

However, the size of the council’s debt meant it would still be operating beyond its self-imposed limit, which sought to restrict interest as a percentage of total revenue to no more than 8%, until 2016-17, Mr Orders confirmed.
Read more

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### ODT Online Tue, 22 Jan 2013
Mayor’s rates warning
By Chris Morris
Dunedin city councillors will have to choose between a 2.8% rates rise and extra spending on key priorities – including debt repayment – that will drive up the bill for ratepayers. The choice was presented in the 2013-14 pre-draft annual plan, to be considered by councillors in public for the first time this week. [Chief executive] Paul Orders said the cost-cutting had been achieved in part by reduced staff costs, including not filling all vacancies, absorbing inflation and strictly controlling the council’s capital spending programme.

Overall operational costs had increased by just $500,000 as costs were cut in other areas, while capital spending had been cut in half, from $105 million in 2012-13 to less than $50 million in each of the next three years, Mr Orders said.

Key reports were yet to be made public, including one discussing the financial future of DVML, the stadium and the need for a new events fund. Others would consider options for the Waipori Fund, car park operations in Dunedin and the city’s aquatic facilities, as well as the future of the council’s investment property portfolio.
Read more

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[On council companies…] The practice of businesses having to borrow to pay dividends is worse than poor.

### ODT Online Tue, 22 Jan 2013
Editorial: Dunedin’s austerity budget
The local government annual plan season is beginning, with councils facing austerity budgets. Some, as in Dunedin or Queenstown Lakes, have gorged on debt, and must face the slow process of digesting it. Others will be aware that communities have had enough of rates increases continually topping annual inflation. The Dunedin City Council, easily Otago’s largest council, has feasted on new projects and on high general costs, and its consolidated debt is peaking beyond the extraordinary figure of $600 million. Although it includes council company debts, it is still an astronomical figure. As projects small and large – like the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, the Town Hall, the water and sewerage system upgrade and the stadium – came up for discussion, the annual interest costs were often the financial focus.

[ODT blondness…] To make the stadium a success and to compete with other centres, the council might have to seriously consider an events fund. This will again cost ratepayers, but could benefit the city overall.

The long-term accumulation of debt and cumulative interest totals could be sidelined behind an unrealistic optimism, leaving a legacy of commitments to years of whopping rates increases. Fortunately, the folly of this course has been recognised, and vigorous efforts are being made to turn to a sustainable direction.
Read more

DCC homepage portrait nightmares 6.1.13 (screenshot)

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Filed under Business, DCC, DCHL, DVL, DVML, Economics, Media, Name, ORFU, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Sport, Stadiums, Town planning, Urban design