Scheme 'too rich' for NEV

A scheme to protect more than 450 Northeast Valley properties from flood damage has been axed after being judged by Otago regional councillors as ''far too rich'' for those who live in the area.

Councillors, at a committee meeting yesterday, decided not to put the $1.7 million proposal out for public consultation during its annual plan process.

As a result, the Dunedin suburb's residents will not be able to have their say on the proposal and its costs to create an area to hold flood water at Chingford Park and for a smaller area upstream of Forrester Park landfill.

To fund the scheme, ratepayers would have faced a 72% increase in their flood protection rates over nine years - a cost too great for the benefits, councillors said.

However, council chairman Stephen Woodhead, while admitting the cost was greater than he had hoped, did not support the decision due to concerns about access along North Rd by emergency vehicles to those living in the upper valley, which did not have alternative access into the city during a flood.

''It's not sensible to withdraw it at this stage. At least we would be doing something to assist the community. This is the best we can do at the least cost.''

Cr Michael Deaker said the benefits did not match the costs to the area's residents.

''It is far too rich for the rates bills of those who live in Northeast Valley.''

Cr Trevor Kempton said valley residents, during last year's annual plan consultation, did not favour a prior scheme linked to the Water of Leith flood protection work, because of the cost.

''We are offering them less and its costing them more [in this proposal]. I don't expect their attitudes will have changed on that basis.''

Cr Duncan Butcher said the council had done what it had said it would by investigating what could be done to raise the level of flood protection, but the ''cost benefit ratio'' did not stack up.

Councillors also debated how the decision not to proceed should be communicated to affected residents. Cr Gerry Eckhoff suggested a meeting and leaflet drop, but Cr Gretchen Robertson believed there would be little value in doing more because of last year's consultation.

It was decided council staff would look at a ''cost-effective way'' of explaining the decision to the community.

Councillors also decided land not needed for the management of Lindsay Creek would be sold. The council had spent about $3.5 million on land for the Leith Lindsay flood protection scheme, of which $3.1 million was for property in the Lindsay Creek area.


The history
2001-12: Flood protection for creek included in Leith Lindsay flood protection scheme.
2012: Council decides $12m price tag too high for Lindsay Creek; approves Water of Leith work.
2012: New Lindsay Creek scheme proposed.
2013: New scheme costed at $1.7m; scheme abandoned.


- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

ORC where's the money?

While I am relieved to see this latest money-grab abandoned, I wonder why the special rate levied on property owners in the area that would have "benefited" from the first version, has not been refunded.  The reason given was that they spent it buying properties in the area that would have been affected by works, coincidentally they donated to the stadium which is far from core regional council business.  When the scheme was dropped last time the special add-on was dropped from the ORC rates demand, but there was no refund.  The property bought had a value for buying it, does it not have a realisable value for selling and paying back the householders.  Or has it become a windfall asset of the ORC with an untraceable history, as if it had been suddenly plonked onto the planet at no cost to anyone?

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