Otago regional ratepayers will face a 5.34% increase in
general rates if the Otago Regional Council votes to go ahead
with investing in Tarras Water Ltd's irrigation scheme.
While the council will not make its decision on the
irrigation scheme until March 27, it has put the investment
in its draft annual plan to be considered by the council's
finance and corporate committee tomorrow. Chairman Stephen
Woodhead said yesterday the inclusion of the Tarras
investment did not prejudge the outcome of the decision or
that of water plan 6A, which was also included, although a
recommendation was yet to be made on that also.
The Tarras investment - $3.5 million in dry shares and
ongoing fixed costs - had been included because the council
had agreed to amend its long-term plan to allow the
investment last month.
Putting out two plans, one with the investment in and one
with it out, as the council had done for other projects in
the past, was a ''headache for staff and auditors'', he said.
If the council decided not to go ahead with the Tarras
investment, then when the plan was adopted in June it would
exclude the proposal and cut its rates increase.
Without Tarras, the proposed general rate increase would be
2.97%, although that could change as a result of public
If the council went ahead with its Tarras investment, the
5.34% increase translated into anywhere from an 18c increase
for a $250,000 house in the Waitaki to a $2.68 increase for a
$500,000 house in Dunedin.
Usually, investment income was used to offset general rates
but, because there would be no return until the Tarras shares
were sold, the amount of the offset would be reduced - for
2013-14 it would be about $113,000, the draft plan said.
The draft plan also included provision for implementing plan
change 6A (water), although the hearing panel was yet to make
its recommendation to the council.
It was expected to be presented at the March 27 meeting as
well and the council did not know what the recommendation
would be, Mr Woodhead said.
''Whatever form 6A takes, some ongoing work will need
Another uncertain aspect included was provision for some
Dunedin bus contracts. The council rated for targeted
activities such as flood and drainage schemes, public
transport and improving air quality and overall the rate
intake for those was decreasing 2.6%.
While 10 targeted rates remained unchanged, seven had
increased and two had decreased. The major drop was the
transition to commercial services for the Wakatipu bus
service, which meant the Queenstown targeted rate dropped by
The budget also included $8.6 million for work on flood and
drainage schemes, including $5.9 million on the Water of
If the draft plan was approved by the committee it would go
out for public consultation, and submissions would be able to
be made until May 3.