Dunedin City Council says a decade of big building projects is over as it begins to pay off large debts.
The turnaround is shown in draft budgets released on Tuesday for next year's annual plan.
The council has spent about $400 million on large city projects since 2002, including museum and wastewater upgrades and a controversial new stadium.
Council chief executive Paul Orders says that era is over as the council moves from investment mode to maintenance mode.
Mr Orders says the city will begin paying off more than it borrows for the first time in 10 years, and money for any new projects would have to be taken from other budgets.
Mayor Dave Cull says the city embarked on too many large projects too quickly.
"It was probably somewhat imprudently ambitious to cram that many big capital projects into such a short time frame.
"You can say that with hindsight. That's the situation we're in, and we're dealing with it."
The youngest councillor, Jinty MacTavish, says she is relieved to see the end of a culture of putting projects on the city's credit card for future generations to pay.