Across Christchurch last night many bottles of champagne would have been uncorked by business leaders, rugby bosses and right-wing councillors celebrating the city council decision by 13 to 3 to go ahead and build a budget-blown $683 million “multi-use arena” (aka rugby stadium)
The so-called “frugal five” councillors (Phil Mauger, James Gough, Aaron Keown, Sam MacDonald and Catherine Chu) have led the charge for the biggest spend in Christchurch city’s history despite no plan for how to pay for the extra $150 million they approved Thursday night.
It’s important to emphasise this. When the council voted yesterday there was NO PLAN for how to pay for the extra $150 million. That is to be left to the incoming council and “this is the way it should be” says the outgoing mayor Lianne Dalziel.
Borrowing this money will push the city close to its debt ceiling with no room to move in the case of unforeseen problems which are a natural part of any city’s contingency planning.
Needless to say the frugal five have argued (surprise, surprise) for the selling of city assets to pay the blown-out cost.
The decision has laid bare the deep socio-economic divisions in the city as well as exposing the hypocrisy of councillors who continually argue for rates to be capped, budgets to be slashed, community facilities put on the back burner, but fall over themselves in demanding spending to benefit private businesses.
The same mayor and councillors have refused to spend a cent of ratepayer money to rebuild the council rental housing destroyed in the earthquakes (they have made miserly loans at commercial rates to the Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust to do this) have feverishly supported the blown-out stadium.
Congratulations to the three councillors (Melanie Coker, Sara Templeton and Celeste Donovan) who, for principled reasons, voted against the stadium.
As Sara Templeton says “It’s a clear case of privatising the profits, and socialising the costs”