Taieri funding unlikely to change

Taieri farmers' quest for a greater rates contribution from the wider community, in recognition of the significant contribution their area makes to Dunedin, might be unsuccessful.

Otago regional councillors will today consider a report recommending the revenue policy for the lower Taieri flood protection scheme remains the same.

That means the scheme will continue be funded 2% by the general regional rate, 2% by a general Dunedin city rate and 96% by those who most benefit from the work.

The farmers made submissions to last year's draft long-term plan asking for the general rate contribution to the Taieri flood and drainage schemes be increased, some suggesting it should be the same 7% contribution as the Leith flood protection scheme.

At the time, the council did not support a change in the revenue policy for the drainage schemes, believing they provided a ''wholly private benefit''.

However, the council decided to review the general rate contribution to the scheme before this year's annual plan process, which begins next month.

That review found an independent economic assessment of the benefits could be done but at significant cost and would result in all flood protection schemes being assessed to ensure consistency.

When the council developed its funding policy in the late 1990s, it considered the public and private benefits.

It decided on 2% because the work ensures access to Dunedin International Airport, and 2% because it provides protection to the roading network. The rest was to be picked up by those who directly benefited.

The Leith scheme received a 5% general regional rate contribution and 2% from general rates, recognising the potential flood effect on public assets such as the university and hospital, the report said.

If it were to increase the general rate contribution to match the Leith scheme, it would be saying the Lower Taieri generated ''an equivalent amount of public benefit''.

''This is a matter of judgement and for the council to determine.''

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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