Westland mayor Maureen Pugh says her council doesn't have a deficit problem, despite a protest by residents saying it has had a budget blowout.
Westland District ratepayers protested in Hokitika on Tuesday over the council's debt level of $18 million and an 8% rates increase this year.
Mrs Pugh says Westland's debt is not significant compared with other councils in New Zealand.
She says the council has debt because it has spent money on improving its assets.
Westland residents spokesperson Anthea Keenan says ratepayers are angry with the council's extravagant spending and are calling for the mayor to step down.
However, Maureen Pugh says she has no plans to leave her job.