What to do with an unspent $1m?

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull say he is committed to keeping rates within a self imposed 3% limit – about three times the inflation rate and after increasing rates in previous years.

ODT reports:

…it was signalled that $700,000 worth of extra costs discovered by council staff would make it tougher for the council to stick within the 3% limit.

But then:

Council group chief financial officer Grant McKenzie said the $1 million allocated in last year’s annual plan towards installing lights at University Oval…

…would make it easier to get rates lower? No, this is Dunedin.

…could be spent on one-off projects in the 2016-17 year, after the project was dropped.

What?

Mayor Dave Cull said having access to the funds was welcome and would allow the council to fund items the community indicated it wanted.

What about members of the community want escalating rates brought under control?

The spend mentality is one problem. So is Cull’s claim “the community indicated it wanted”? How does Cull know what “the community” want?

During feedback, submitters were positive about all areas of additional spending consulted on, Mr Cull said.

Did they choose more spending over reducing rates increases?

How many submitters? Some on the council have a habit of claiming that an active minority somehow represents everyone.

Like this today from Councillor Jinty McTavish:

It’s great to see Dunedinites calling for ANZ to follow the Council’s lead and divest from fossil fuels.

But ‘Dunedinites’ didn’t all feel the same way about the protest.

Stuff reports: Protesters blasted by passersby for blocking elderly customers from entering ANZ bank in Dunedin

More than 120 climate change protesters blocked entry to three ANZ bank branches in George Street.

Spokeswoman Niamh O’Flynn, of 350 Aotearoa, said the protest was targeting ANZ because the bank invested in, and supported, businesses that caused climate change through their activities.

Protest in a democracy. But obstructing people from going about their business isn’t as flash.

ANZProtestDunedin

Does councillor McTavish think that is good Dunedinite behaviour?

One passerby berated the protesters who refused to budge for an elderly woman wanting to use the bank.

“Come on you . . . . let the old lady in,” he said.

“Get out of the bloody way. You are doing your cause no good.”

Customer Jennifer Lee said she needed to use the bank, “and I had no choice but to take off my shoes and climb over them”.

Perhaps they are some of the same submitters who urge the council to spend more of other people’s money.

I asked Jinty how many Dunedinites thought obstructing other Dunedinites was great but she hasn’t responded yet.

DCC votes to be Green climate lobbyists

The infiltration of Green national politics into local body government took a worrying turn yesterday. Dunedin City Council has voted in four climate change resolutions:

• Urge the Government to adopt a tougher carbon emissions target.

• Support the Government in that goal by reducing Dunedin’s carbon emissions.

• Join the international ”Compact of Mayors” agreement to measure and reduce emissions across Dunedin.

• Ask the Government to place a moratorium on deep sea oil and gas exploration.

It looks like there is a big dollop of Green Party national politics in those resolutions, with the Dunedin City Council voting to allow themselves to be Government lobbiests on issues of national and international interest.

The resolutions were brought before the council by Crs Jinty MacTavish and Aaron Hawkins.

I don’t think McTavish is officially in the Green Party but is closely aligned with more extreme Green policies, and has been influential in promoting Green policies and practices at a local body level.

Hawkins stood as a Green Party candidate in 2013 local body elections when he became a councillor.

The ODT reports in Council says yes to climate change resolutions that there was some opposition:

Cr Andrew Noone said Dunedin would be better off ”walking the talk” than telling the Government what to do.

Cr John Bezett said the issue was one for central Government, and Dunedin was ”wasting our time” giving its opinion.

Cr Andrew Whiley said climate change was a problem needing to be addressed first and foremost by the world’s biggest polluters, including China and India.

Both there was more support in a fairly left leaning council:

But that view was rejected by Cr Richard Thomson, who said grass-roots pressure was what drove governments to make big decisions.

Cr David Benson-Pope brought cheers from the gallery for his speech on why Dunedin had to take a stand.

”Like it or not, colleagues, we are part of our community. In fact, we are supposed to be some of the carriers of the moral leadership.”

”There was no question what thousands of New Zealanders thought about the issue during the weekend’s climate change marches,” he said.

”They think this community needs to move.

”I agree with them, and I’m not reluctant to … tell the Government it’s time that they got real and re-established a degree of political integrity and moral fibre on this issue.”

Benson-Pope has a Labour rather than a Green background. He was an MP from 1999-2008.From 2005-2007 he was Minister for the Environment in the Clark Government.

Unusually for a setting MP he was not selected by his party to stand again for Dunedin South in 2008. It seems like he still has a hankering for being involved in national politics.

I’m not surprised with this Green politicking in Dunedin, the Greening and Lefting of the council was an issue of concern raised in the 2013 election.

I would rather the Dunedin council put more effort into administering and improving Dunedin for their rate payers rather than delving into Green national politics.

UPDATE: In other news in the ODT today things that don’t seem to matter so much to DCC councillors:

Queenstown-Lakes also fared well in the number of dwelling consents issued in October with 96, up from 65 in September and by far the highest for the past 12 months.

Central Otago had 19 dwellings consented, up from 16 and again the highest total for the past 12 months.

Dunedin slumped to 19 dwelling consents in October from 25 in September.

That’s depressing enough, but more so given the headline: New year looks good for Otago builders.  Not so much for Dunedin builders.