Opinion

OPINION: Mayoral candidate Rick Ireland

Rick Ireland. Photo: Supplied.

Rick Ireland is pledging to curb rates if elected.

I’m standing for mayor because rates are increasing every year and are becoming unaffordable for those on fixed incomes, those on lower incomes, and young families just starting out.

Rates are being driven up by massive borrowing which must be paid by the ratepayer. Back in 2005, the Council debt was less than $2 million which wasn’t unreasonable. Now, according to the council, the debt is around $48 million.

In addition, the council has demanded dividends from mainly Port Marlborough, for which Port Marlborough has apparently had to borrow in order to pay. One way to look at this is that the council has been shifting its debt off its own balance sheet and onto other balance sheets.

The council asserts that it’s in good financial health, but then forecasts a total debt peaking in three years at an eye-watering $270 million. This will have to be paid for and the ratepayers will be on the hook. Just the interest, even in these economically benign times, will cost ratepayers about $1 million. Per month.

If the head winds come, and, as most of us know, the head winds will always come, it won’t matter who Marlborough elects to council. The rate increases will go out regardless. There won’t be any choice.

We may buy nice furniture for our homes but we’re all very careful about it because we know it must be paid for. And we’re all unimpressed with those who just stick it on the credit card and then sit at their nice new table wondering how it all went so wrong. The council should be no different.

The debt must not be increased but be reduced. If I’m elected, it will be. As a result, there’ll be no pressure to keep raising the rates. No more elderly people wondering if they should turn the heater off or spending a little less food because their rate demand has increased. No more young families spreading their finances ever thinner because the rates go up far faster than their income increases. No more “credit card spending”.

However, the council does need to spend money in the district. We should do it the old-fashioned way. Attract more people and businesses to Marlborough which will increase revenue, and then wait until we can afford it.

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