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Council’s debt levels queried

A Greytown community leader is raising questions about South Wairarapa District Council’s [SWDC] debts, which the council plans to respond to.

Warren Woodgyer asked SWDC a raft of questions at the most recent SWDC meeting on Wednesday [27 September] about council borrowing, including the debt limit imposed by central government and annual loan repayments.

The Greytown Community Board member’s questions were initially overlooked as a follow-up action item, but this was rectified after councillor Aaron Woodcock intervened.

“Warren had three questions at the bottom of his presentation. I would like the answers to those questions to be made publicly available at the next council meeting or finance meeting,” Woodcock said.

South Wairarapa mayor Martin Connelly agreed.

“That’s no problem, there is no secret. If we approve a resolution later in the day relating to another matter, we can put it up on the website quite quickly,” he said, possibly referring to an agenda item on proactive release of information.

Woodgyer told SWDC its finance system should balance raising revenue for essential services and the rights of property owners, and the stewardship of councillors plays a critical role.

“One of their responsibilities includes transparency in decision-making. Property owners have a right to know how their rates are being used and how decisions impact their property rights,” Woodgyer said.

“The SWDC’s purchase of the Lake Ferry Campground reflects a consistent trend of borrowing, with a commitment of $500,000 plus ongoing interest.

“Upcoming expenditures include $2 million allocated for the [Greytown] wheel park and football club rooms, while the $1 million provided to Kuranui College for their hall has already been paid.

“However, ratepayers will be responsible for covering the principal and interest repayments over the next 10 years.”

Local authorities in New Zealand are legally required to manage their finances responsibly, he said.

“This includes borrowing within reasonable limits and ensuring that the debt is serviceable and can be repaid over time.” -NZLDR

    Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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