Mayor Vanessa achieves her fi­nan­cial goals

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - DEB­BIE JAMIESON

‘‘It is in­cum­bent on us to say 'is it fair, rea­son­able and what we should do with other peo­ple's money?'’’

If you look at the floor as you walk into the of­fice of out­go­ing Queen­stown Lakes Dis­trict Mayor Vanessa van Uden, you might no­tice the car­pet is dif­fer­ent from the rest of the build­ing.

She was new to the of­fice in 2010 when she was ad­vised new car­pet was be­ing laid.

‘‘I said ‘there’s noth­ing wrong with this car­pet’. They said ‘but we’ve got the money to do it’. I said: ‘Use it on some­thing else’.’’

It is sym­bolic of the pride she takes in her fru­gal ap­proach. A re­cent flick through the can­di­dates’ pro­file book pub­lished as she bid to step up from coun­cil­lor to mayor in that same year shows her promis­ing to bring coun­cil spend­ing and rates in­creases un­der con­trol with a fo­cus on coun­cil ser­vices.

As she pre­pares to hand over the may­oral chains fol­low­ing six years in the job, she says she achieved her fi­nan­cial goals - try­ing to achieve ef­fi­ciency in ser­vices, without cut­ting them.

Coun­cil ve­hi­cles, phones and le­gal fees were tar­geted. Staff muffins for morn­ing tea and coun­cil lunches at 12.30 be­fore a 1pm meet­ing went too.

‘‘This is other peo­ple’s money that we are spend­ing,’’ she says. ’’It is in­cum­bent on us to say ‘Is it fair, rea­son­able and what we should do with other peo­ple’s money?’ be­cause we don’t give them any choice about tak­ing it off them.’’

The coun­cil staff re­struc­ture was nec­es­sary, although the re­build was not done as well as it should have been and caused more angst than nec­es­sary, she says.

De­spite pop­u­lar opin­ion, the pro­posed Queen­stown Con­ven­tion Cen­tre was a ‘‘van­ity project’’ she says she only picked up af­ter the Prime Min­is­ter sug­gested it and the busi­ness com­mu­nity called for more work to be done.

Her re­main­ing frus­tra­tion is that she is not leav­ing coun­cil in as good a shape as she wants it to be.

How­ever, she was pleased to achieve zero rates rises.

‘‘At the stage that I took over we were about $100m in debt. Through good pru­dent fi­nan­cial management across the or­gan­i­sa­tion we are now cur­rently about $95m in debt.’’

❚ Vanessa van Uden’s full story is fea­tured on Stuff. • North­land • Waikato • Hawkes Bay • Manawatu • Dan­nevirke • • • •

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DEB­BIE JAMIESON

Queen­stown Lakes Dis­trict Mayor Vanessa van Uden is leav­ing af­ter six years in the role.

van Uden re­fused to get new car­pet in her coun­cil of­fice.

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