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Rates increase – DCC not immune from the challenges of rising costs

The cost of everything in New Zealand has gone up dramatically, especially in the past year and Dunedin is not immune to that. The Dunedin City Council’s draft 2024-25 budget reflects these challenges.

“Councils throughout the country are faced with very difficult decisions at this time because not only do we have substantial inflation and interest rate rises, we have the mandate of 3 Waters to meet as well as essential improvements across the city”, says Mayor Jules Radich.

“Our water infrastructure requires upgrade to plants, pipes and processes. There is no Government money for 3 Waters, but the work has to be done. It cannot be deferred. Water is an essential service for community health and wellbeing. We expect tap water to be drinkable and wastewater taken care of. Like it or not, we are going to have to pay for it ourselves and we have to get on with the job. That adds 5.4% to rates.”

“A constant problem in the city is torn plastic rubbish bags. From 1 July, households will have Council supplied red lidded bins which might be a cost saving for some residents given they no longer have to buy black bags. The cost per household of this improved kerbside collection will be approximately $6 per week, which is an increase of 4.4% in rates.”

“The rise in interest costs have added another 1.8% to Dunedin’s rates before we start to look at all the other cost pressures in our economy. Council has reviewed and trimmed many of its budgets while still retaining the amenities that residents require. Budgeted staff numbers have reduced by over 50 positions, projects have been deferred and service levels reviewed but there has been no avoiding an increase of 1% in general costs plus 4.9% in depreciation. This all adds up to a proposed total rates increase of 17.5%.”

Mayor Radich says “Having to present such a number to the public of Dunedin is distressing. I also know how upsetting this will be for ratepayers.”

“Council is actively working on an investment plan that is expected to reduce the need for such large increases in coming years. Financial sustainability for Dunedin is the goal and it would be preferable for our city to be in a position to halt its ever-growing debt and forge a pathway to reduction.”

“Some residents will be aware that Dunedin rates are below the nationwide average and while it is of little comfort, even after this increase I expect we will still be below the national average next year,” says Mayor Radich.

Dunedin City Councillors will discuss the draft Annual Plan 2024-25 for the purposes of consultation, including a proposed 17.5% increase in rates, at a meeting on Tuesday 12 March.

 

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