A week or so ago Sideshow Bob announced that the proposed rates increase for this year would be 7.1%. Previously an increase of 5.3% had been proposed. The new figure is, supposedly , to cover 'cost increases ' incurred by the February earthquake.
But blaming this new increase on the earthquake is also a convenient way for Sideshow Bob and the Christchurch City Council to deflect attention from its own errors and misbehaviour.
What Bob has avoided saying is that an estimated 2.67% of this increase will be used to cover the debts incurred by the redevelopment of the AMI Stadium.
Christchurch ratepayers, already under considerable financial pressure, are going to be forced to foot an $50 million plus debt blowout by the city council-owned AMI stadium operator Vbase. Dozens of staff have already been sacked to save on running costs.
Whichever way you look at it, the upgrade of AMI stadium was misconceived from the start and it is the good people of Christchurch who are expected to pay for the folly of others.
Four years ago Sideshow Bob's predecessor, Garry Moore. claimed that the stadium upgrade would have no financial impact on ratepayers - 'none whatsoever', he claimed.
Moore has since been working for the Christchurch City Council on a freelance basis.
Shortly before the February quake hit Deputy-Mayor Ngaire Button defended the looming stadium bailout on the grounds that the Rugby World Cup games, scheduled to be played at the AMI Stadium, would be ' a real benefit' to the city.
This argument was dubious at best, and was rendered redundant by the earthquake.
Columnist James Dann has written in The Christchurch Mail this week:
'While the expansion was clearly designed with the Rugby World Cup in mind, once that competition was over we would have been left with more than 40,000 seats, requiring the attendance of one in every ten people from the wider Canterbury region to reach capacity. The stadium upgrade never made financial sense, and the cost to ratepayers shouldn't be attributed to the misfortune of the earthquake.'
Now the Christchurch ratepayer, effectively left impoverished by two devastating quakes, is expected to pay for the expensive blunder of people who remain in highly paid council jobs and who still think they are entitled to tell the rest of us what we should do.