Forsyth Barr Stadium, all the proof you need…

Forsyth Barr stadium in Dunedin is all the proof one needs to justify any statement about the poor financial management of councils around New Zealand.

Stadium-weary Dunedin ratepayers may have to stump up more millions for their roofed facility if the city council votes “yes” next week.

The council’s new financial officer Grant McKenzie said today that councillors would consider savings from severe council belt-tightening over the past year for repaying debt accrued by Forsyth Barr Stadium’s management company Dunedin Venues Management Ltd (DVML).

The proposal, to be tabled next week, approves $2.271m in payments to help balance the financially-troubled stadium’s accounts.

The council would also consider a report that proposes hiking ratepayer contributions towards stadium costs by an extra $715,000 annually from the next financial year. That funding would come from rates.

Bev Butler, one of the facility’s most vehement opponents, said the proposal showed it was “obviously dire straits” for the stadium.

Butler and her colleagues had city-wide support for their organisation Stop the Stadium before construction of the facility got the green light in 2009.

Today’s announcement came as Butler was fresh from addressing the council’s annual draft plan hearings about continuing concerns over soaring stadium costs.

“I mean they’re p…ing in the wind, ” Butler said today.  

“After being open for nearly three years and having had its honeymoon period and [ratepayers] paying millions and millions of dollars, the debt has actually increased.

“It is actually disgraceful that this is happening. It’s all because they never listened to the community when the community told them that their figures were wrong.”

Firstly the Luddites of the Deep South  promoted that the stadium would be profitable.

Then they claimed it would not exceed a dollar more than $188m. Well they were kind of right because it cost another $62m more dollars.

Now the council is stumping up additional cash to keep it from financial collapse. Pride it appears is still holding itself ahead of rational thinking.

If we want to take some warnings about the perilous state of local government the examples are everywhere.

In Auckland Len Brown wants to cripple future generations with debt so large it will be costing your great great grandchildren – impeding in their quality of life.

The Luddites of local government need reigning in.

Ratepayers and future generations can ill afford to wear the costs of expenditure by local councils.

Did Dunedin need a new covered stadium? Possibly, but not if it came at crippling costs and delayed expenditure on core services.

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