Rex Widerstrom interviewed the former Hutt City Council CEO Tony Stallinger about claims that former Councils had not set aside sufficient funds for depreciation and that there is now an $18 million shortfall that needs to be made up by raising rates across the city. They also discussed the controversial decision to invest in the CBD hotel and the Convention Centre, both taken while Stallinger was at the helm.
Stallinger claims, in this exclusive interview with Hutt Radio, "Any suggestion that the depreciation was calculated incorrectly is wrong as far as I'm aware, and the auditors were aware as well. When it comes to gathering rates funding to cover those depreciation costs, there's always been more than adequate collected by Council.
"I've seen some graphs published by the new chief executive and used and presented to the council. I've looked at the annual reports published by Council in the past, and it's a completely misleading presentation that's been given. If the council was to increase rates to cover that so-called $18 million hole it would result in a massive, massive overcharging of ratepayers in the city."
On the statement by current CEO Jo Miller that her and her administration are "sharing the pain" by cutting $1 million from their operations, Stallinger says "This is what used to happen every single year, not after we'd presented budgets council but before so we'd identify savings and we'd incorporate them in the first draft that the council got to see. That's why council got to see budgets proposing increases only at the level of inflation, not 7.9%. So, to put out an inflated budget, and then to come along and say, "we want another $7.9 million from ratepayers, I'm going to find $1 million worth of savings". You know, that's not impressive in my book".
He's prepared a paper which sets out how he believes the budget should have been presented and how it differs to Miller's version. You can read the full document below.