Letter to Wanganui Chronicle Editor - Cr Vinsen and debt - 1/03/2010
Office of the Mayor
Wanganui District Council
It is not unusual for Cr Vinsen to be wrong on council-related matters. In fact, one might argue that it is his especial role – whether acting as a gang apologist or campaigning against the right of Wanganui to be spelt as the majority of us would want.
But now he is attempting to willfully mislead the good citizens of our city with regard to the council debt. He insists that the council’s debt is not due, in large part, to the $120 million wastewater/sewage scheme that my council inherited.
In fact, it is. If there was no project, then the council would not be projecting a peak debt in excess of $90 million. In fact, we would have no civic debt at all. We would not have needed to borrow for other major capital works including water supply, roading and the new amenities like the Splash Centre. We could have easily paid those sums out of either rates and/or short-term loans.
But the key issue about debt is never its size. It is whether it can be serviced. And whether it is likely to continue upwards. As the council’s plans clearly demonstrate the answer to both those questions is ‘Yes’ and ‘No’.
Better still we are able to balance those demands with a low rates environment – one of the lowest in New Zealand.
That judicious balance has been an outstanding success story for Council despite the vicissitudes of unexpected crises. If Cr Vinsen is not happy with that outcome then I am happy for him to publicly moan his upset. It is, after all, his way.