### ODT Online Thu, 8 Sep 2016 Scope for more democracy with checks and balances
By Hilary Calvert
OPINION In the past three years Dunedin City Council has functioned just as central government does, with a government and an opposition. But the problem is that in Dunedin it means central government-style politics without the checks and balances. Because the mayor of the day is allowed to choose the chairs of the council committees, if the mayor anoints those who are similar in their views to him or her, effectively a “government” is formed. Those on the “government” side support each other, forming a version of the “cabinet”, with meetings between themselves alongside senior council staff to discuss the issues of the day. Those who are not part of this grouping are obliged to form a loose “opposition”, because this is the only place where any public challenges and questions are likely to come from.
In Dunedin […] the chairs of committees forming the “cabinet” meet secretly and without any minutes which can be accessed. They may be part of working parties with other groups, which never report back to the council, for example groups meeting with NZTA about cycleways. They may have information either before the rest of the council or outside the rest of council papers, never to be seen by council. […] In Dunedin, the ODT describes what happens in council meetings, talks to the chairs of the meetings, and prints press releases, having clarified the situation with a relevant staff member. There is little chance for any challenge of prevailing views unless a major debate happens during meetings, or unless the issues raised are ones which the ODT chooses to follow up in an in-depth way. Read more
● Hilary Calvert is a Dunedin City councillor, who is not standing for re-election.
Leunig Cartoons @leunigcartoons · Sep 8
B L O W N ● O U T ● O F ● P R O P O R T I O N ● B Y ● C U L L
If, for example, the solutions involved “massive urban renewal or massive pumps” then Government help could be sought.
### ODT Online Fri, 9 Sep 2016 Work on South D issues
By Vaughan Elder
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says it is too early to make a formal approach to the Government for help with the problems facing South Dunedin. Mr Cull made the comments while outlining the council’s response to its vote last month to “immediately engage” the Government over the threat groundwater and sea-level changes pose to the low-lying area. Mr Cull said that in recent weeks he and chief executive Sue Bidrose briefed local MPs on the situation in South Dunedin and in the past he had spoken to ministers Bill English and Paula Bennett about the possibility of “collaboration” between local and central government in addressing South Dunedin’s issues. Read more
Dunedin City Council – Media Release
Another Busy Year Ahead With Cycleways
This item was published on 10 Apr 2015
Dunedin residents will be able to make the most of safer cycle routes in coming months as the city’s cycleway network continues to expand. Dunedin City Council Infrastructure Services Committee Chair Cr Kate Wilson says cycleways make the streets safer for all road users and hopefully encourage more people to get on bikes.
“For years people have been asking the Council for enhanced cycleways in Dunedin. We have a responsibility to provide networks that give people travel choices, whether that be cycling, walking or taking a bus or car. The more of the network that is completed, the more we can provide for people who want to use cycleways, whether it’s a child cycling to school, an adult cycling recreationally, or anything in between.”
It is also a central government priority to rapidly expand and enhance networks of cycleways around the country, recognising the benefits to health, the economy and the environment. The DCC has received $570,000 from the Government’s Urban Cycleway Fund and the Council has decided the funding will be used to enhance and expand the South Dunedin Cycle Network. The DCC also receives funding from the NZ Transport Agency to build the network.
“Taking advantage of Government funding now is important as we have a limited window of opportunity to capitalise on our position as one of only a few cities with the requisite Strategic Cycle Network Plan. We are a financially constrained Council and the more funding we get from outside sources the less we need from ratepayers.”
In August 2011, the Council adopted the Strategic Cycle Network for Dunedin, which gave the South Dunedin network of routes the highest priority for design and construction. Cr Wilson says 40% of people living in South Dunedin do not have access to a car, which is a key reason for South Dunedin cycle routes being prioritised.
“We understand introducing cycleways to our streets has been a big change for some people, but we’ve got a great opportunity here to improve our city in a very positive way for current and future generations.”
Here’s an outline of what’s happening with South Dunedin cycleways over the next month.
● Portobello Road (between Timaru Street and Portsmouth Drive) – wider consultation on a revised concept plan for this stretch of road.
● Hillside Road/McBride Street – staff are reviewing the proposed cycleway design after meeting with local businesses.
● Neville/Wilkie Streets – a final decision on the type of cycleway for these streets will be made in April. Construction is scheduled to begin in May.
● Harbourside/Roberts Street – the Harbourside Working Group will meet again in mid April.
● Richardson/Coughtrey, Fingall/Tedder, Bellona/New Streets – Construction of these ‘quiet streets’ and dedicated cycleway should be finished in the next couple of weeks.
Residents, businesses and property owners in areas where cycleways are planned will be contacted directly.
Saturday, December 07, 2013 4:29 PM
[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.
Local Government New Zealand
OAG’s advice to public entities on lesson learnt:
● 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
● 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
● 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
● 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”
### 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
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.
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.
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”. Read more
### 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
### ODT Online Sat, 30 Jan 2010 Editorial: Restraint inertia
It is good finally to see some vigour coming from Dunedin City councillors as they examine ways to tackle spiralling rate increases, even if such efforts are years too late. The mayor and councillors for far too long have acquiesced to plans and proposals that have ratcheted up costs. Read more
### ODT Online Sat, 30 Jan 2010 Water infrastructure challenges identified
By Chris Morris
Climate change, peak oil and a $1 billion bill are just some of the challenges identified in the Dunedin City Council’s 3 Waters strategy document. However, the 3 Waters Strategic Direction Statement 2010-2060, to be considered at Monday’s infrastructure services committee, also outlined the high-level thinking behind plans to tackle each, as well as identifying opportunities. Read more
### ODT Online Sat, 30 Jan 2010 City’s $1b water bill
By Chris Morris
The Dunedin City Council is facing a billion-dollar bill to maintain existing water services over the next 50 years. The forecast costs were outlined in the council’s “3 Waters” strategy, along with a warning “trade-offs” would be needed – reducing funding for some non-essential water services – to minimise the effect.
Cr Butcher said the [“3 Waters”] document showed the council’s decision to invest in the Forsyth Barr Stadium, despite concerns held by some about the financial position of the council, was “coming home to roost”. She also accused staff of deliberately withholding details of the pending bill during earlier stadium deliberations. “I’m pretty upset about it . . . We should have had this information before we made the stadium decision, because it makes a huge difference.”
Yesterday and today, spurred by the stadium debate, Richard Walls provides opinion in the Otago Daily Times on Council debt levels, borrowings, investment and effect on rates. The newspaper properly credits the writer as a Dunedin ratepayer, city councillor and chair of the DCC’s Finance and Strategy committee. Far be it from us to add the word redoubtable before the good Councillor’s name.
### ODT Online: Opinion Thu, 12 Feb 2009 Answering stadium critics
Debt (read borrowings) has become something of a touchstone for those who oppose a particular capital works project. Indeed at times, I and others wonder if the confusing mix of opinion and “own fact” by regular critics of council borrowing is really another imaginative creation from the Miramar workshops of Weta!
### ODT Online: Opinion Fri, 13 Feb 2009 Actual borrowings by DCC ‘low’
Why does the Dunedin City Council borrow and how has Dunedin City Holdings Ltd performed over the past 15 years? In the second of a two-part article Richard Walls defends the council’s rates record.
Cr Walls was always going to have his field day. It would be no surprise then if he earned a stinging rebuttal from local resident Calvin Oaten who is mentioned severally throughout the mountains and valleys of Cr Walls’ thought.
We persisted with his views, not sure if other Councillors would share them or the historical account proffered to get us where we might be today. Nevertheless, we thank him for his trouble.
By the end of the read, perhaps, we had suffered or become faithless – or had slaved as devotees. But at any rate (!!) there is the tendency to become less critical of the stadium project itself at the expense of disproportionate rise in critical appreciation of the Council and its moral baggage, not all of it in a good calm light.
We look forward to public reaction as may suit writers, speakers and users of gestures!