- Before and after pics of our vintage Hillside-built cooler carriage restoration Christmas holiday project that we milled the macrocarpa for…
- No doubt Tremain will inflame, but he is insightful all the same.
- 69th Dunedin to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
- DCC Planning and Spending based on Presumed Growth
- From today’s Economist magazine:
Before and after pics of our vintage Hillside-built cooler carriage restoration Christmas holiday project that we milled the macrocarpa for…
Who would have dreamed that a hundred+ year old American 14 litre fire-engine could be rebodied into a 100mph+ racing car, and today took off from our Octagon for the 69th Dunedin to Brighton Veteran Car Run?
Thanks to all the wonderful enthusiasts and their veteran vehicles including some that were steam powered.
Against DCC modeled predictions, a net loss of 2,000 people voted with their feet to leave Dunedin for other parts of NZ last year, when the rest of NZ population is growing at 1%.
We need to know why: to help arrest the decline and to be able to plan appropriately for actual growth.
One clue as to why people left has subsequently been available by looking at age. “The estimated population decline over 2020-22 was predominantly driven by a net loss of residents aged 20-29. This is the age group that is traditionally more mobile.”
Regarding our student population “datasets suggest that the net decline in Dunedin residents aged 20-29 is not predominantly caused by overall tertiary education trends…”
Another clue may be the 2021 DCC Residents’ Opinion Survey:
Largest decreases in satisfaction in 2021 to 2020
- Satisfaction with cleanliness of streets (down 16 points to 48%)
- Satisfaction with DCC supporting Dunedin’s economic development (down 15 points to 32%)
- Satisfaction with the performance of Mayor and Councillors (down 15 points to 25%)
- Overall satisfaction with the DCC (down 14 points to 40%)
- Satisfaction with the look and feel of the central city retail area (down 14 points to 51%)
The DCC can not afford to keep borrowing in an increasing interest-cost environment, to spend on supplying infrastructure for growth that is not happening.
DCC models for growth have been wrong for the last two years, and hoping for high growth when the data shows unexpected decline should cause us to investigate causes and review projections and budgeted spending.
The DCC 2022 graph ‘rebased growth projection’ ignores any reasons for the prior 2 year decline and restates the previous optimism by simply adjusting the starting point downwards.
The ODT report below lists various levels of Councillor denial.
“Councillor wants to know why people have left
A DUNEDIN councillor says the city needs to work out what it has done to ‘‘scare off’’ people to other parts of New Zealand.
The latest population data shows a recent drop and then lower projected growth than had been anticipated, prompting two councillors to declare they believed higher growth would materialise and one to be labelled a grinch.
A report for the council about housing capacity noted Dunedin lost an estimated 2400 residents between July 2020 and June 2022.
‘‘We need to figure out what it is we have done here in Dunedin to essentially scare off quite a significant number of people to other parts of the country,’’ Cr Lee Vandervis said.
Higher population projections were used when some key council documents were shaped, such as the 2021-31 long-term plan.
The population drop for Dunedin was mainly a consequence of migration within New Zealand, the council was told at a meeting this week.
Cr Vandervis speculated possible factors included the city having a less business-friendly rating system, or differential, than other centres, ‘‘divisiveness in the past few years about how Dunedin develops’’ and a generational schism.
‘‘I look forward to getting some more information, as has been promised, on who left and hopefully that will give us some idea of why.’’
His commentary contrasted with views offered by several other councillors, most notably Christine Garey and Andrew Whiley.
‘‘I have great faith in this city and I believe we’ll hit that high-growth target again,’’ Cr Garey said.
Cr Whiley, who highlighted the Covid-19 pandemic and immigration settings to help explain recent data, was frustrated population trends and projections about capacity needed for housing seemed to signal underwhelming ambition or vision.
‘‘I see faster growth for our city,’’ he said.
Cr Vandervis said he felt like a grinch, an assessment endorsed by Cr Jim O’Malley, and Cr Vandervis reflected on Cr Whiley’s optimism.
‘‘It’s fairly well established that optimists have happier lives, but pessimists have a better grasp of reality,’’ Cr Vandervis said.
The council is using the Statistics New Zealand medium-level scenario for population change to help shape policy about capacity for housing and business growth.
Factors in the mix include recently relaxed housing development rules, zoning changes, environmental imperatives, adjusted population projections and the pipeline of expected work, potentially including public housing.
The council was on track to go close to planning for a high-growth scenario, city development manager Dr Anna Johnson said.
Cr Garey was one councillor who said it was prudent for the council to be nimble, enabling planning for high growth, should this be needed.
Cr O’Malley said the council needed to be in a position where it could respond to growth.
The council endorsed using a medium-growth scenario, as well as adding in some strategic planning, such as having a sharper focus on community and social housing aspirations.
The Otago Regional Council adopted the same approach.
Cr O’Malley said this did not get in the way of high-growth ambition.
Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich said the population ‘‘blip’’, together with housing capacity and scope for improvement in productivity, presented opportunities for the city.
It could increase use of technology to better harness the efforts of the population and its ‘‘brain power’’. firstname.lastname@example.org“
The world of long-predicted rapidly rising interest rates and inflation is upon us… Opportunities to reduce Dunedin City Council vulnerability are still available. – my personal view.
Still no media coverage of the extraordinary content of the DCC ‘updated’ Maori Memorandum of Understanding.
The vast majority of Council voted for the new revision of the DCC 2006 Maori MoU.
In my view the vast majority of Dunedin citizens would not have approved had they been given the chance to know what this new binding agreement commits the DCC to.
One example – “Te Pae Māori will also be enduring and not subject to change by a simple majority of Council.”
Meeting video of Item 7 follows:
The Inaugural Council meeting went like a well-scripted Coronation, with the only departure being an embarrassing motion from Cr. Laufiso and the now gang of four wanting to modify Councillor pay rates to a different unequal range on a claimed basis of equality.
Less-halting speeches in Maori showed that some had been diligently practicing, Aaron eulogies were especially overwrought, and the full audience seemed well-pleased with the apparent change in leadership and hoped-for changes in DCC direction.
Lithium is the lightest metal, but lithium batteries are still damn heavy. This one is from a Nissan Leaf weighing near 300kg and being repurposed for our house solar electrical system.
Mayor Radich’s Landslide is our best hope now for reversing some of the DCC damage done over the Hawkins/Benson-Pope years
This result is based upon the counting of approximately 90% of the returned voting papers. The progress result does not include some special votes and voting papers returned today that are still in transit to the processing centre. The outcome of these elections may change once all voting papers have been counted.
RADICH Jules Team Dunedin elected
HAWKINS Aaron Green Ötepoti excluded
BARKER Sophie Independent excluded
VANDERVIS Lee Independent excluded
HOULAHAN Carmen Independent excluded
ACKLIN Bill Independent excluded
MILNE David Joseph excluded
MAYHEM-BULLOCK Mandy excluded
SEAGER Richard Southern Independents excluded
TAYLOR Pamela Independent excluded
GROSHINSKI Jett Independent excluded
The final absolute majority of votes (final quota) as determined at the last iteration was 18,761. There were 100 informal votes and 366 blank votes.
Council – At Large (14 vacancies)
BARKER Sophie Independent elected
VANDERVIS Lee Independent elected
WEATHERALL Brent Team Dunedin elected
WHILEY Andrew Team Dunedin elected
LAUFISO Marie Green Ötepoti elected
ACKLIN Bill Independent elected
GAREY Christine Independent elected
HOULAHAN Carmen Independent elected
O’MALLEY Jim Independent elected
WALKER Steve Labour elected
GILBERT Kevin Team Dunedin elected
BENSON-POPE David Independent elected
LUCAS Cherry Independent elected
MAYHEM-BULLOCK Mandy elected
ELDER Rachel Independent excluded
SCOTT Lynnette Team Dunedin excluded
MCLEAN Robyn Independent excluded
MCBRIDE Chris Independent excluded
STEELE Callum Team Dunedin excluded
DAVIS Joy Labour excluded
DCC Council Companies to remain in the too-hard-basket?
Seven years. It has been seven years since our Dunedin Council-controlled Companies have provided us with a dividend from profits.
Many decades of many millions invested in our Council Companies have given us little but massively increased debt since our last dividend in 2015.
Even those dividends before 2015 were often debt-funded, like the $10 million ‘Special Dividend’ that was needed to push Stadium construction funding over the line, later revealed to have been facilitated by Company borrowing of $13 million.
Transparency, and clearly identifying what our DCC problems are the best ways of beginning to solve those problems in my experience.
The status quo does not like change or solutions that involve loss of jobs-for-the-boys or the derailing of traditional gravy trains, but our current course and annual $100 million increase in debt is unsustainable.
So why is the DCC amassing so much debt despite record rates increases of many times the rate of inflation, and why no DCC Company dividends?
Local Directorships, some exceeding the 3 term limit are part of our Companies’ problems as the recommended use of independent non-local Directors has usually been ignored.
Easy profits from City Forests have been used to subsidise our incompetently run Lines Company Aurora and Infrastructure Company Delta, who for far too long shared the same board of directors that gave fat Aurora maintenance contracts to Delta making both companies top-heavy and inefficient on the backs of Otago electricity users.
Worse, Aurora indulged in the public ownership disease of short-termism, failing for decades to maintain its electricity distribution network resulting in failures of everything from power-poles to transformers and cables that should have been replaced decades ago. On-going electrical supply and safety failures, some fatal, have resulted in the Commerce Commission fining Aurora $5 million, but both the Cull and Hawkins Councils have looked the other way, instead spending on pet planet-saving cycleway projects while DCC Group debt has increased by nearly $100 million every one of the last 3 years.
DCC spin has allowed our $1.2 BILLION combined Company and DCC Debt to look less by only highlighting DCC book debt of around $400 million, having bounced our Stadium debt into the Companies’ books to keep up appearances.
The DCC has also found many ways of subsidising the loss-making Stadium to make things look less worrying in Annual reports.
These annual subsidies include: Event attraction funding, local event discount funding, a special Stadium rates differential, and an annual purchase of $2.55 million of Stadium shares by the DCC despite DCC already owning 100% of Stadium shares – and this is described in DCC accounts as “Investment”!
The annual total of this accounting duplicity is close to $9 million every year for a Stadium that struggles to get a major event for many months at a time and won’t even do that once Christchurch Stadium is available.
What to do?
1 – Admit and clearly identify the problems:
The DCC has failed to control or get returns on our massive investment in our Council Controlled Organisations. Like the Cull Council, the Hawkins Council has left our companies in the too-hard-basket, preferring to borrow instead.
The Stadium has ludicrously high $9 million+ annual DCC subsidies to keep it inflated with few events and fewer forecast.
Council Companies still fail to deliver dividends or proper rates of return after 7 years of massive injections of borrowed capital that were supposed to make them profitable.
The DCC has lumbered Council Companies with $2.5 million annual losses just to delay inevitable decisions on Taieri Gorge Railway and keep it mothballed for each of the last 3 years.
City Forests has been conjuring profits from revaluations and carbon credits rather than just efficiently harvesting timber.
The Hawkins’ Council itself has gone on an unprecedented spending spree on transport changes and cycleways including George st that will amount to more than $150 million of unsustainable spending on unproductive investments.
2 – Obvious solutions include: stopping or deferring cycleway and transport changes saving $150 million. Prevent City Forests from buying further farms for forestry carbon credit speculation and get them selling more trees more efficiently.
Accept that the Taieri Gorge Railway line to Middlemarch with its 37 bridges is beyond anybody’s ability to maintain safely and let a limited main-trunk line service be run locally or by an outside company if a local service cannot break even.
Get new independent outside directors for Aurora and Delta and explore partial sell-off of the Central Otago lines area for which there is competitive interest.
Spend $1 million on a low-maintenance tough artificial turf for the Stadium so that it can be used daily, cut staff overheads and allow the main ground to get used constantly by local sports/events groups. It will still lose millions but at least we will get good community use out of it.
With rapidly rising interest rates, world tensions, and cost of food, Dunedin Council must make hard decisions and make them now. We must prevent further decision delay on DCC Company restructuring, Taieri Gorge Railway, Sammy’s, Mayfair, Athenium and Fortune Theatres, groynes, the One-Way system, and a Unitary Council.
A lot of talk about Dunedin’s potential will only be realised by decisive informed course-corrections over the next 7 years.
STOLEN TANDEM TRANSPORTER TRAILER with 2.4m double-sided election signage attached on scaffolding tube at night-time from 35 Portsmouth drive outside NZ Couriers Depot. Trailer tow-ball was padlocked. Z537N number plate likely changed by now.
Distinguishing features include black strong scaf-tube construction, ally platforms, ladder-rack style ramps, led lights and hand winch.
Police have had no leads for over the last week.
Trailer needed for many farm tasks, as pictured.
Also stolen on many nights in recent weeks are 11 other placards, 2.4 metres long as pictured below,
from Burnside to Pinehill and many places between, some very well attached requiring time and tools and presumably a large van to take them away…
Any info or leads please phone Police or Lee 021-612340
Good to see the ODT putting DCC debt facts on the front page and including the Council meeting video in which Mayor Hawkins accuses me of being rude.
Not included were important details on my ‘pushed over’ placard – that DCC Companies have not returned a dividend since 2015, and that we now pay near $1 million in interest-only every week on DCC Group Debt.
3 Waters is actually 3 Kinds of Pipes that we in Dunedin have all long paid for, as Hilary Calvert writes:
Let’s ask the right questions now for those communities struggling for healthy water, writes Hilary Calvert.
Otago towns, the pipes the pipes are calling, from reservoirs and down towards the sea …
The first issue with the three waters debate is that it isn’t about waters. It is about pipes and other infrastructure.
The water is a natural treasure of New Zealand. The pipes are bought and paid for by local ratepayers. There is no sense in which they belong to anyone other than the local people, who paid for them so that all citizens could have piped fresh water, piped storm water and pipes taking our sewage to be treated and released.
Once we accept that it is the pipes, we can talk about who should own them. Usually those who pay for something own the something. If the Government removes ownership of assets we would call this nationalisation, something which tends to be done in unstable and desperate countries with a weak grip on democracy.
What actually happened in the current Government proposal was that we were told if the will of the people as expressed by their local government representatives did not want to give them up Government would not require them to. However it turns out that when local government representatives were not all supportive we were told that it would happen by force.
It appears that several thoughts were behind this backtracking manoeuvre.
The notion of nationalising the pipes was proposed to solve the problem that some communities are struggling to produce clean water in and to dispose of dirty water appropriately.
The Government could sort this problem by providing funds and if necessary taking over the operation of the pipes in such areas.
However the Government has decided that the 80% of local authorities in New Zealand who are looking after themselves will have to have their pipes taken over also, since the economies of scale sold as an inevitable result of a centralised structure would not happen.
If Bruce Munro’s “voices” (ODT, 10.9.22) are correct, there is also a fear that a nationalised pipe ownership structure could be sold to private interests. An answer to this, according to the voices, could be for mana whenua to be co-owners of the pipes, the assumption being they would never allow these assets to be sold.
Both these assumptions founder on one basic truth. The Government can change anything it wants and fund anything it wants at whatever level it wants. It can also change the ownership structure of anything in New Zealand, as it knows, since it is doing precisely that with the pipes.
Sharing ownership of nationalised assets with mana whenua does not take them out of the Government’s clutches. While we have a democracy where all New Zealanders have one vote for the government who will form a majority, the elected government on the day can do what it will.
As for economies of scale, these can of course happen, even when the Government is involved. Think Pharmac for example. However even if Pharmac can get drugs more cheaply as a central purchasing authority, the Government can refuse to provide Pharmac with the funds it needs to allow us to have drugs which are taken for granted as available in most other comparable countries.
The Government may not starve the new pipe owners of money, since the money will apparently come from the same ratepayers as it always did.
There will be a major difference however: the rates will be required of us by an owner who is entirely unaccountable to those it rates. Any transparency is unlikely, since when the Government takes over there appears no temptation to engage in sharing what is going on. (Think the new health authority and its chief providing a comment along the lines of he was not put on this earth as some sort of occupational therapy for journalists when he was asked for answers to some basic questions.)
The backtrack seems also to have came about as a result of the Government believing that local authorities think short term and keep kicking the can down the road when it comes to renewing pipes and improving the quality of what flows through them.
While this may have happened in the past, the Government has been putting out an ever-increasing series ofrules intended to improve water quality.
Local authorities are spending millions, attempting to comply with these. Any deficiencies in the outcomes are as likely to be because of the confusing nature of the rules and the ever changing requirements as they are to be because local authorities are dragging their feet.
When voting comes, and all the people make their choices, if they are gone, as gone they well may be …
It will be no comfort saying an Ave for previous politicians. We need good answers to the problems of some communities struggling to cope with the pipes needed for healthy water and a healthy environment.
Let’s ask the right questions now.
— Hilary Calvert is a councillor on the Otago Regional Council but is not standing for re-election.
Labour Political Party Puppets Pledge on Dunedin City Council?
Ever wondered why Council Candidates boosted on to the DCC by Labour vote as a block with central government policy on major issues like MP Mahuta’s 3 Waters proposed confiscation of Dunedin’s $3 BILLION 3 Waters assets?
The Labour Party Constitution updated 2020 requires all Candidates to sign this pledge.
Note “(f) If elected I will vote on all questions in accordance with the decisions of…a duly constituted meeting of Party representatives on such a body”
falsely claiming that I “publicly highlighted the pensioner’s home address details” referring to a Ms Parsons who has repeatedly interrupted my campaign speeches and pushed my DCC Group Debt graph signage to the floor at a public Mayoralty meeting. Miller previous wrote that rival candidate Mayhem-Bullock “rushed over and asked if Cr. Vandervis was picking on a little old lady.”
It turns out that this claimed little old lady was in fact an accomplice Mayoral nominator for Mayhem-Bullock, evidence for which I have made public on social media as below, without highlighting any part of the public Electoral document.
Had I redacted any of the document details, no doubt I would have been accused of interfering with or withholding public information…