Otago COVID-19 Welfare Helpline 0800 322 4000

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The helpline is now available to coordinate requests for assistance in relation to emergency food, household good/services and other welfare-type requests for the Otago region.

Dunedin City Council via the Customer Services Contact Centre 03-4774000 will receive calls and log details on behalf of the region.   The after-hours service will also take calls outside DCC operating hours.

The number for members of the public to use is: 0800 322 4000 and will operate daily from 7am to 7pm, from today.

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Quarantine humour for a larf :<)

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No Vaccine or anti-viral yet, but

Medical science has come a long way in the 100 years since the Spanish flu, as many have said.
In my view better hygiene, control of symptoms and understanding how to slow viral spread will ensure that relatively few will die from Covid-19 in NZ because the Arden Government have wisely followed the best Taiwanese containment model.
Not so Africa and many other countries. There is no cure or vaccine yet, and a vaccine lead-time will be long.
The price of containment in NZ is stalling our economy, which will have severe personal limiting effects, unemployment misery, and long-term economic contraction.
I apologise to those offended by the scary view of my previous post which I wrote in reaction to people claiming that Covid-19 is just another flu and that it will be business as usual after the 4 week lock-down.
I believe that we are in for years of economic contraction because major industries like Tourism have stopped, and because the printing of even more money as in the 2008 bail-out spree is unsustainable. Locally, we need to alter our spending priorities now, focusing on what is really necessary.
I am using lock-down time to reassess my personal priorities and to rethink how we might optimise social positives in a contracted economy. We now have lots of technology to build our individual social capital – to share info, skills and support.
A major world positive is the current greening of the planet, allowing much more food to be grown. Happy gardening if you have that option…
Screen Shot 2020-03-18 at 10.33.30 PMScreen Shot 2019-09-14 at 8.15.00 AM

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Don’t hold any hope that Coved-19 will be over in a short period of time.

The 4-week lock-down is just the first stage.
Screen Shot 2020-03-18 at 10.33.30 PM

Ex Wikipedia –

“The Spanish flu, also known as the 1918 flu pandemic,[2] was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic. Lasting from January 1918 to December 1920, it infected 500 million people—about a quarter of the world’s population at the time.[1] The death toll is estimated to have been anywhere from 17 million[3] to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million, making it one of the deadliest epidemics in human history.”

Two years is also the Covid – 19 estimate from the prestigious Rupert Koch institute.  Yesterday’s Economist reports that “the Robert Koch Institute, a German government health agency, in saying that, in extremis, tough restrictions may need to remain in place until a vaccine can be made, tested and put into use—a period it sees as lasting up to two years.”

Today’s STAR front page highlights economic impacts but only scratches the surface of immediate recession effects and suggests people must prioritise spending on accommodation, food and power.
I suggest talking to any old people or grandparents who have had direct experience of privation in WW2, to get an idea of how to build your own supportive social network, because both local and central governments will be unable to help much other than printing money and imposing martial law. Slowing the spread of Coved-19 will help Health Support services cope, but there is no stopping Coved-19, even if a super-vaccine is invented tomorrow.
The label ‘tulip muncher’ stems from widespread starvation in Holland in WW2 and the eating of stored tulip bulbs to stay alive. “The war bulbs were old and dry and did not taste like fresh tulips. A fresh tulip bulb has a sweet, milky flavour that is actually not very bad. The tulip bulbs that were eaten during the war had a very bitter and dry taste instead.”
What got my forbearers through WW2 was a good network of friends and acquaintances that they could trust to do certain things and barter a range of skills and resources.
My advice is to look beyond what money may currently buy, since current currency values will change, and look to building your social capital, your connections with people that you can trust and barter with. Decide what you really need, and how you can help those around you with their needs at the same time. It is never too late to build social capital.
Do this on-line, on the phone, or over the fence, keeping the 2 meter distance at all times.
The economic ‘reset’ that was delayed by printing money in 2008 can no longer be delayed, and those responsible can now blame collapse on the virus.
The negativity of this post reflects the negativity of our current world, but suggests positive changes everyone can make to lessen the impacts. Gardening, reading to increase your gardening and other skills, and getting to know your neighbours and friends better to learn how we can all help each other.


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DCC request for remote meetings a week ago…

From: Lee Vandervis <lee@vandervision.co.nz>
Date: Monday, 16 March 2020 at 8:53 AM
To: Sue Bidrose <Sue.Bidrose@dcc.govt.nz>, Sandy Graham <Sandy.Graham@dcc.govt.nz>, “Council 2019-2022 (Elected Members)” <council.2019-2022@dcc.govt.nz>
Cc: Karilyn Canton <Karilyn.Canton@dcc.govt.nz>
Subject: Remote meetings

Hi Sue and Sandy,

Further to my wife having to organise contingencies for Coved 19 at Otago University [she is Head of Program for Cultures and Languages] I wish to suggest that we change our Standing Orders to allow Council meetings to legally conducted remotely, so that the decision-making functions of our Local Government can continue in the event of panoramic public meeting cancellation.
My experience of being able to engage in Council meetings while overseas with a simple audio link, suggests that we might be able to tweak standing orders for Emergency Meeting Purposes only so that voting may become legal remotely.
I am suggesting basic audio links only because the better video links would involve more people,  more bandwidth and more complexity, and in tough times the KISS principle has proven to be best.

Similarly, a redeployment plan for many Council staff who have the potential to work from home should be immediately drawn up in my view.

Looking forward to some rapid responses and further suggestions that our evolving technology may permit to keep DCC functional in a self-isolation scenario.



Response a week later…

From: Aaron Hawkins <Aaron.Hawkins@dcc.govt.nz>
Subject: Council Meetings
Date: 23 March 2020 at 4:20:21 PM NZDT
To: “Council 2019-2022 (Elected Members)” <council.2019-2022@dcc.govt.nz>
Cc: Sue Bidrose <Sue.Bidrose@dcc.govt.nz>, Sandy Graham <Sandy.Graham@dcc.govt.nz>
Kia ora koutou
Under the new regime, we all live in self isolation for the next four weeks at least.
In light of this, and given that we don’t have the capacity to hold meetings remotely, tomorrow we will formally cancel our meeting for March 31st.
Our ongoing governance arrangements will covered off in the coming days.
Stay safe (and now, dry).
Ka mihi
Aaron Hawkins
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3 NOTICES OF MOTION for the next full Council meeting 31/03/20

Following discussions with Councillors I have limited the number of needed responses to our drastically impacted society to these urgent first 3 Motions.

From: Lee Vandervis <lee@vandervision.co.nz>
Date: Friday, 20 March 2020 at 9:39 AM
To: Sue Bidrose <Sue.Bidrose@dcc.govt.nz>, Sandy Graham <Sandy.Graham@dcc.govt.nz>
Cc: “Council 2019-2022 (Elected Members)” <council.2019-2022@dcc.govt.nz>
Subject: 3 x Notices of motion

Dear Sue,

To help reassure our Dunedin citizens I believe we need to move with urgency to confirm the following recommendations to help stem the tide of personal fears, business failures, unemployment, and financial defaults that are now inevitable.

To help ease Coved-19 effects, please include the following 3 Notices of motion in the full Council agenda of 31/03/2020:

1 – that Council cancel Rates Non-payment Penalties [currently 10%] for the next 12 months to give our citizens an opportunity to defer rates expenses if hardship is claimed.

2 – that Council defer non-essential DCC projects for 12 months but continue with infrastructure projects, especially drainage, to keep local contracting businesses going.

3 – That Council reprioritise the Annual Plan budget: change to ‘Zero Rates Increase’ this year and to ‘Cover Rates Deferment for struggling families and businesses’, to be afforded by deferring non-essential projects including: George st surface treatments, University precinct surface treatments, and Waterfront development.

Cr. Lee Vandervis

[Electronic scanned signature attached]


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GOOD that Central Government have finally closed our borders.

Screen Shot 2020-03-18 at 10.33.30 PMThere is still a chance of containing Covid-19 on our remote under-populated islands.
My personal advice is to keep physical distance, avoid travel [especially in public transport like buses], and do not go to work if that involves significant social contact or close shared spaces.
Look after family members, do what work/education/entertainment you can on-line, and find some good books. [All the great books in History are available free on-line. https://thegeekpage.com/best-websites-to-download-free-ebo…/]
Garden, if you have that option.
Conserve resources and be prepared for social and financial upheaval. Tourism and Education, our two biggest industries are being forced to change…

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STAY HOME – Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

Section 83 of the Health and Safety Act details your rights;

Screen Shot 2020-03-18 at 10.33.30 PMRight of worker to cease or refuse to carry out unsafe work


A worker may cease, or refuse to carry out, work if the worker believes that carrying out the work would expose the worker, or any other person, to a serious risk to the worker’s or other person’s health or safety arising from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard.

Additional virus considerations.

My personal advice is to keep physical distance, avoid travel [especially in public transport like buses], and do not go to work if that involves significant social contact or close shared spaces.
Look after family members, do what work/education/entertainment you can on-line, and find some good books. [All the great books in History are available free on-line.] Garden, if you have that option.
Conserve resources…
Call me on 021-612340 if you would like to discuss reasons or details.   Lee

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Unsustainable DCC – the practice of our sustainability preachers.

A summary with Neil McMillan on Otago Access Radio…



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Viral positives?

‘It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good’
Travel restrictions may have a small silver lining for Dunedin ratepayers, as DCC staff discover that most travel is unnecessary…

From: Sharon Bodeker <Sharon.Bodeker@dcc.govt.nz>
Date: Tuesday, 19 November 2019 at 3:45 PM
To: Lee Vandervis <lee@vandervision.co.nz>
Subject: RE: LGOIMA information request. CEO travel.

Dear Cr Vandervis

I am writing in response to your LGOIMA request below about CEO travel.

There were 150 days of the 365 days prior to and including 25 October 2019 where the CEO did not work in her office or other DCC premises. Please note that this total includes weekend days, statutory days, annual and other leave days, and working days away from DCC.

The CEO visited two counties in these 365 days – China and the USA.

The trip to China was a ‘project China’ visit which was paid using Project China budget, and the CEO’s portion of that trip was $8,160.14. There were visits to three cities, and the purpose was to celebrate to 25th anniversary of the Shanghai Sister City agreement, the 150th anniversary of Otago University with Chinese alumni, to farewell the Mayor and to sign an MOU for deepening education collaboration, and to open the NZ-Shanghai Film Festival.

The CEO is on the International City Managers Association (ICMA) and their International Ethics Board.   The cost from the DCC CEO’s budget for this board participation and for ICMA conference attendance in the USA was $7,425.35.  The CEO also travelled within New Zealand for work purposes, and the total cost was $5,540.69.  Together, these total $12,966.04 of the CEO budget spent on travel over this period. (Note, there were no costs of any kind for ‘tours’ as mentioned in your LGOIMA request).

I trust this answers your request for information.

Kind regards

Sharon Bodeker

TEAM LEADER CIVIC               

P  03 477 4000  |  DD  03 474 3231  |  M  021 178 5337  |  E sharon.bodeker@dcc.govt.nz

Dunedin City Council, 50 The Octagon, Dunedin

PO Box 5045, Dunedin 9054

New Zealand


From: Lee Vandervis <lee@vandervision.co.nz>
Sent: Friday, 25 October 2019 4:19 p.m.
To: Sharon Bodeker <Sharon.Bodeker@dcc.govt.nz>
Subject: LGOIMA information request. CEO travel.

Hi Sharon,

Can you please tabulate how many days our CEO has been away from her DCC office in the last 365 days from today.
Can you also forward a list of countries our CEO has visited, the main reason for each visit, and what our CEO’s total national and international travel budget: flights/connections/ tours/accommodation etc. has cost during the last 365 days

Looking forward,


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Dunedin doesn’t have a Democracy, we have a Bureaucracy. There is much more to the 6.5% budgeted rates rise:

In our ‘Democracy’ local government staff are supposed to provide balanced information on which elected DCC representatives then make decisions. DCC Staff agendas and reports can run to several centimeters thick of fine print, but the relevant information is too often missing.
This year’s rates debate was preceded by a special non-public ‘Rates Workshop’, a meeting in which staff report on and explain the rating system and answer Councillors’ questions.
I asked our presenting staff expert to justify the DCC Commercial Rating Differential, the multiplier by which we charge local businesses many times more rates that we charge to our residents for similar services. Our paperwork showed that the residential differential was 1 [the standard rates charge] and that we charge Dunedin businesses a commercial differential of 2.45 times the residential rate, more than twice as much.
I asked why we charged Businesses so heavily and was told that it was because we always had in the past [even more in past years] and that the 2.45 differential was similar to other New Zealand cities. I suggested that the real reason we charged businesses so heavily was the bad reason that we don’t have many business owners and that they are a minority voting block we can safely ignore.
I asked what the Commercial Rating Differentials were for our nearest business competitors Invercargill and Christchurch, but the senior number-cruncher who had just said our Commercial Differential was ‘similar to other NZ cities’ claimed not to know about Invercargill or Christchurch.  I asked the number-cruncher to forward these competing differentials to us before the following Annual Plan Rates debate meeting, which he promised to do, but then didn’t.
In the following public Annual Plan rates debate I again had to ask what the rates differentials of our competitors was and the number-cruncher admitted that Christchurch’s differential was only 1.66 times the residential standard, and that Invercargill’s Commercial multiplier was 1 – the same as for residential!
But too late, the rubber stamps were out and the Mayor/Cr. Benson-Pope were claiming that poor Dunedin house-owners whose property values had increased by 10s of thousands this year would be hit hardest [by our unjustifiable 6.5% to maintain existing services] and further rates rorting by way of reducing fixed rates charges was needed, further increasing the disproportional burden on those Commercial rate payers that still persist in Dunedin.

So that is how it was done: with Mayoral approval staff write themselves an increase in staff costs of 7.4% on top of last year’s 8% staff increase [4xthe rate of inflation] and then claim that rates have to go up 6.5% to ‘maintain existing services’. The Mayor gets an unprecedented new 1.5 staff members to help him strategize, and staff blame reduced Landfill profits and ‘higher expectations’ for having to again gouge the ratepayer, especially our commercial ratepayers. The ODT accurately reported the unanswered questions…


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Staff costs causing rates rise

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Veteran Dunedin/Brighton Rally Speech

Veteran Dunedin to Brighton Rally.                                                                           18/01/2020

Thank you all for coming here today on the first day of summer to celebrate our brilliant Vintage fossil-fueled Heritage.
I am Cr. Lee Vandervis and on behalf of the Dunedin City Council I welcome all Vintage car enthusiasts, and especially the car owners/drivers and their understanding partners, without whom this spectacular, fascinating and historic event would not be possible.
I would like to add personally that without the magnificent men who have continuously evolved such fossil-fueled machines, our most healthy and wealthy and numerous civilisation would not be possible.

I have a bit of history here regarding the Veteran Dunedin to Brighton Run, which has kindly been provided by one of the key organisers of this annual event, Mr Mark Wilkinson. [Unless you have organised such a public event, it is difficult to appreciate just how much focused preparation and coordination goes into making it happen, so thank you Mark and all the others who have cleared all the Health and Safety hurdles to allow this assemblage of Magnificent Machines!]

The Event started in 1955 after the Mayor at the time Sir Leonard Wright wanted to have an event similar to the London to Brighton Run, which then resulted in the Dunedin to Brighton Run being formed. At around the same time it was decided by the city fathers to also run an Annual Festival Week and the Brighton Run became one of the events that started the festival. After the crowning of the Festival Queen the Mayor would flag the vehicles away for the time trial to Brighton. The Dunedin to Brighton Rally is the only surviving event from the Festival still continuing and has run continually since.
The event is open to members of the Vintage Car Club of New Zealand with vehicles registered on or before 31 December 1918 – therefore all the vehicles are over 100 years old and this event is the oldest continuous all-Veteran Rally in the Southern Hemisphere. One example of the vehicles competing today is the 1900 Wolseley owned by Colin and Judy Winter, the oldest privately-owned Wolseley in the world.

It is testament to the members of the Dunedin Vintage Car Club that these vehicles which were an important part of our history are still running today and not sitting in museums, and long may this continue.
All the best to all participants, and may everybody enjoy this 66th Veteran Dunedin to Brighton Rally.

a wonderful turn-out of people and machines




chatting with enthusiasts…


almost ready with Dougal Stevenson providing the informed commentary…


will it start?


and away they go…



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and the last away one of the quickest, Alan Dippie and Dad in a French racing car…


a happy day with family fun – Lukas and Juliette   :<)


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The DCC 2GP has made the housing crisis worse, but ODT Hawkins-friendly reporter Chris Morris fails to mention that Crs Hawkins and Benson-Pope were highly-paid Cull-appointed commissioners on the 2GP that pushed through the crazy zoning and other rules that have reduced building options in Dunedin and made the few available sections unaffordable.


Reporter Morris does say that the DCC Second Generation Plan “had been blamed for holding up the development of hundreds of new homes”, and says that “The 2GP itself has also been described by one property developer as “broken” despite rezoning 190ha of new land for residential development.”
Reporter Morris fails to report that Crs. Hawkins and Benson-Pope pushed through new harsher 2GP rules for residential building in rural and semi-rural areas where the 15 ha rule for a house has been increased to a draconian 40 hectares, massively decreasing housing section possibilities, and massively devaluing many rural and semi-rural property values. Morris fails to mention the absurd 2GP rule for granny flats requiring them to be only for a family member…
“Mr Hawkins favoured infill development over urban sprawl” says Morris, but in fact his green ideology has limited both – the 2GP won’t let you build in the country hills and the 2GP absurd requirements for houses on the low-lying flat to be ‘relocatable’ means you can’t build economically on the flat either.
The housing ‘crisis’ has been created by those that now disallow a quick fix because of their ideologies.

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Why ‘Pedestrianisation’ works in ancient European capital Downtowns but won’t work here.

Passenger Transport UK

From: Lee Vandervis <lee@vandervision.co.nz>
Date: Wednesday, 30 October 2019 at 2:11 PM
To: Monique Elleboode <Monique.Elleboode@dcc.govt.nz>, “Council 2019-2022 (Elected Members)” <council.2019-2022@dcc.govt.nz>
Cc: <chris@redheron.com>, Sue Bidrose <Sue.Bidrose@dcc.govt.nz>, Sandy Graham <Sandy.Graham@dcc.govt.nz>, Simon Drew <Simon.Drew@dcc.govt.nz>
Subject: Re: Cycleways and pedestrianisation [#ABE06C]

Dear decision-makers and Councillors,

As well as reading the suggested stories about pedestrianisation in Oslo – Norway’s Capital of nearly 700,000 of the most oil-rich people in Europe, or reading similar stories of equally dissimilar to Dunedin ancient Capitals like Copenhagen, Berlin etc. it would be in the interests of relevance to consider the pedestrianisation experiments of two small English University cities of similar population to Dunedin – Ipswich and Norwich.
Here, even after decades of pedestrianisation the results have been much more mixed, with many regrets about the downsides of pedestrianisation.


Closer to home, the pedestrianisation of Christchurch’s Cathedral Square had already banished the vibrancy and character that existed in the Square before the earthquakes permanently unsettled the whole city centre.
Christchurch’s  Square was the functional equivalent of our Octagon, the intersection and crossroads of the cities’ two main central streets, a portent of what is to come for Dunedin if our most successful George st is to become a cycleway using the biggest debt-funded street ‘surface treatments’ budget in our history.
I caution careful consideration, not of population-dense ancient European capital city centres designed before automobiles, but of how much we will certainly lose financially, as well as lose functionally, by removing parking and motorised transport from the heart of Dunedin.

Kind regards,


From: chris@redheron.com
Sent: Tuesday, 29 October 2019 12:26:12 p.m.
To: dcc@dcc.govt.nz
Subject: Cycleways and pedestrianisation

I would like the following article added to the reading list of all the councillors. I think that it could crystallize their thinking.



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What was it that enraged so many about the latest Tremain measles cartoon?

Several people have asked me why Tremain has been censored by the ODT because they had not seen the cartoon, just heard the fallout. So here it is:Screen Shot 2019-12-19 at 9.00.23 PM.png
Tremain has been accused of ‘casual and subliminal racism’, with this cartoon which the ODT Editors were slow to admit was offensive to many.
This is one of several Tremain cartoons printed dealing with measles’ resurgence. The disease transmission vector of holiday tourism is highlighted, but racial sensitivities surrounding 60+ recent measles deaths in Samoa are ignored. RNZ has reported that an outbreak of measles in Papua New Guinea killed 72 children last year and that there was a high of 7 measles deaths in NZ in 1991.

My view is that cartoonists need to criticise, offend, and indulge dark humour to make current, insightful or political points.
Sensitivity, virtue signalling, and tact should not be expected of cartoonists if they are to deal humorously with serious issues or social problems.
Human Tragedy is regularly dealt with in cartoons, both highlighting and sometimes defusing issues, and any subject that is political, tribal, racial or religious will always be offensive to some.
Measles has been a regular fatal scourge in most countries until the recent success of vaccination. Tremain has repeatedly dealt with the subject:Screen Shot 2019-12-19 at 9.38.01 PM
Screen Shot 2019-12-19 at 9.37.22 PM.png

I miss Tremain’s candid cartoons in the ODT. Are we no longer allowed to be enraged or offended or to engage in black humour?
I look at the wimpy unimaginative cartoons that now take Tremain’s place and am saddened by the loss…

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Some surprises in Election Spending and Donations, especially Cr. Garey at just under the legal $55,000 maximum just topping Cull’s last spend with the same PR business [if the 2016 $42,000+ share claimed by Cr. Staynes can be believed].


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Missing Tremain

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Screen Shot 2019-12-20 at 9.00.50 AM

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BILLION $ DEBT only admitted after Election.

DCC seeking $1b of debt facility

Photo: ODT files

Photo: ODT files

The Dunedin City Council wants to increase the amount of money it and its companies can borrow – if needed – to almost $1 billion.But it also insists the extra budget headroom created by the move will not result in the council, or ratepayers, taking on extra debt beyond what it has already committed to.

The proposal is outlined in a staff report to be considered by councillors at today’s full council meeting.

The report, by DCC finance and commercial general manager David Tombs, recommended the change to allow the council and its companies to borrow money needed for their capital spending plans.

That included Aurora’s major network upgrade, work on which was continuing.

Mr Tombs, in his report, said existing arrangements allowed DCC group debt – spread across the council and its companies – of up to $850 million.

Already, group debt was forecast to exceed $850 million by late next year, as it increased from $691 million in June this year to $927 million by 2022.

The increasing debt levels were being driven largely by the capital spending plans of the council and Aurora.

That meant the council either needed to find ways to reduce debt or ways of increasing the amount that could be borrowed, to deliver on spending plans already developed.

Mr Tombs recommended an increase in uncalled share capital in the companies’ parent body, Dunedin City Holdings Ltd, as the best way for increasing the group’s borrowing capacity.

The uncalled shares provided security for DCC group debt, and had previously been increased from $600 million to $850 million in 2010-11.

Mr Tombs said another change in uncalled share capital would not incur any “significant” cost, but would “simply enable the future debt to be available” and provide some “liquidity headroom”.

That headroom could be useful if needed, for example if a natural disaster struck the city, he said.

The council could consider joining the New Zealand Local Government Funding Agency, and borrowing from it, selling some of its $93.5 million investment property asset portfolio or cashing in part of its $92.7 million Waipori Fund.

However, Mr Tombs ruled out those suggestions, saying selling all the council’s investment properties could keep group debt below $850 million but would leave little headroom.

It was also unlikely all the properties could become “sale ready” within required timeframes, he said.

The Waipori Fund also generated $8.6 million in investment returns in 2018-19, a return of more than 9%, and using the fund to offset borrowing would have “adverse commercial ramifications” given the return it was generating, he said.

He recommended the change to DCHL uncalled share capital, while noting group debt could still not increase beyond $927 million without “explicit” approval from the council.


I GAVE CHRIS MORRIS THIS BILLION$ DEBT GRAPH MANY MONTHS AGO but the ODT refused to print it despite the proof that it was made from DCC accounting figures.

DCC Group Debt=updated 190625

I have warned repeatedly all year in public meetings of the inevitable Billion$ DCC Group Debt coming mostly from out-of-control DCC Companies, but was contradicted by ex-Mayor Cull’s misrepresentations that DCC debt was actually going down claiming “Core council debt – including stadium debt – was lower now than when he became mayor.” ! ODT 28/9/2019. He seemed to forget that most Stadium debt had been transferred to DCC Council Companies, and that the Companies, especially Aurora had committed to $100 million extra debt every year for the next 3 years, and that massive deferred maintenance by Aurora and by the DCC was an even worse kind of debt.

Yesterday, in Council I reminded the DCC Chief Financial Officer that his claim that the proposed new higher BILLION$ debt level headroom “could be useful if needed, for example if a natural disaster struck the city” [ODT 10/12/19] was misleading Council.

In fact the new BILLION$ DEBT level is already committed to fund increased DCC spending and especially DCC lines Company Aurora massive committed spend to deal with years of deferred maintenance.
There is not going to be any debt headroom for any natural disaster, because the un-natural disaster of out-of-control DCC Company Aurora is already budgeted to suck it all up. We are going to continue to throw good 100s of millions after bad because nobody has wanted to admit that Aurora is a hopeless financial and reputational liability that should have been sold long ago, as I have regularly suggested since 2010. The longer we continue to fail to act with Aurora, the deeper in unsustainable debt we get.
Mayor Hawkins has no business experience and no understanding of what changes are needed, so just keeps pushing up the debt and going with the status quo.

DELTA, the DCC maintenance company recently separated from Aurora, is not much better because of similar dysfunctional management, [DELTA CEO Grady Cameron left with a $900,000 pay-out last year] but it is smaller and therefore less damaging.
This smaller DELTA liability also needs urgent review of its operations, its liabilities, and a report to Council on whether it is worth keeping.

I again reminded Council yesterday that the previous massive increase in Debt Headroom up to $850 million was also justified as ‘liquidity headroom’ needed in case of natural disaster, but that it had simply been spent without any natural disaster.
None of these extensive year-long ‘BILLION$ elephant in the room’ and ‘I told you so’ speeches had been reported in the ODT before the election, but yesterday’s comments have come out today.


The Dunedin City Council is ‘‘locked in’’ to lifting its group debt to almost $1billion, councillors have heard.

The comment came from Cr Lee Vandervis after council staff confirmed planned spending by Aurora — a key driver of the council’s group debt position — could not be reversed.

Council finance and commercial general manager David Tombs, in a report to yesterday’s meeting, recommended lifting the amount of money the council’s ability to borrow money to $975million.

The mechanism for doing so involved increasing the uncalled share capital for Dunedin City Holdings Ltd, which provided security for debt across the council and its companies.

Increased debt was already forecast to fund council projects already committed to, including the major upgrade of Aurora’s network and council capital projects.

However, at present the council group debt was limited to $850million, and spending was forecast to push debt beyond that by late next year, as it increased from $691million in June this year to $927million by 2022.

Increasing the limit would allow the council to deliver on planned spending, but also provide some ‘‘liquidity headroom’’, for example if a natural disaster struck, he said.

Cr Vandervis told the meeting he had heard similar assurances before, including when the council lifted its ability to borrow from $600million to $850million in 2010-11.

At the time, it was also said to provide headroom to cope with any natural disasters, but had since been ‘‘gobbled up’’ by another form of disaster — Aurora, he said.

‘‘I’m having a deja vu experience,’’ he said yesterday.

He pressed Mr Tombs, asking him whether Aurora was committed to spending on its network, and therefore increased debt, contributing to an almost $300million overall increase in group debt by 2022.

When Mr Tombs said Aurora could not perform a ‘‘U-turn’’ on its spending plans, Cr Vandervis said critics — including himself — had been proven right.

‘‘We are absolutely locked in. We do have to spend this money. Richard Healey’s predictions of $1 billion, and mine earlier this year, have come true.

‘‘We told you so.’’

Delta employee-turned-whistleblower Richard Healey had predicted Aurora’s neglected network would end up delivering a $1billion bill.

The mounting council group debt had funded a wider variety of projects, including everything from the Peninsula Connection upgrade to Forsyth Barr Stadium, as well as Aurora’s network upgrade.

Mr Tombs said lifting the ability to borrow was simply about delivering on previous spending decisions, and the council’s debt-to-equity ratio would still be at the lower end of the scale compared with other councils.

Cr Mike Lord said the debt picture had been clear for more than a year, ever since the council decided not to sell properties to offset debt, and he had no issue with it.

Cr Carmen Houlahan also ‘‘fully’’ supported the report, saying investment in infrastructure was key, while deputy mayor Christine Garey said the council and its companies were investing in the city at a fiscally advantageous time, when interest rates were low.

Cr Jim O’Malley also reminded councillors the level of risk was ‘‘negligible’’ when much of the debt was secured against company assets, like City Forests, which could be sold.

Cr Vandervis maintained the council would have been ‘‘hundreds of millions’’ of dollars better off it it had sold
Aurora years ago, but Cr Jules Radich said that would have led to the kind of price hikes seen in the private sector elsewhere.

Councillors voted 13-1 to increase the council’s ability to borrow, to $975 million, although any increase beyond $927million would require a specific council resolution.







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