‘Intense’ pest control too expensive

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
An intense approach to pest management will be too heavy on Otago ratepayers, a regional councillor says.

Instead, the Otago Regional Council will moderately increase its staff capacity to manage pests.

The decision was made by councillors after deliberating on feedback to the council’s long-term plan 2021-31 during a finance committee meeting yesterday.

The plan had proposed two options for pest control — a more intense approach at the cost of $4.6million, or a moderate increase in services at the cost of $3.3million.

The council had indicated that the latter was its preferred option and chief executive Sarah Gardner said it was sticking with that preference as 55% of submitters had agreed.

While councillors also reached the same conclusion, it was not without debate.

Cr Alexa Forbes said the submitters who wanted a harder and faster approach were "ringing" in her ears.

"I want us to take that plunge."

Cr Kate Wilson agreed.

"If there is a [pest] outbreak it is so, so costly to fix," she said.

"I think we have put on many ratepayers, in the past year, a huge burden, both financially and mentally ... there is a huge demand for this and I want us to be listening."

Corporate services general manager Nick Donnelly said choosing the more expensive approach would take the proposed total rates increase of 47.5% to 52.1%

Cr Michael Deaker said that impact was "pretty heavy" and asked if there were other ways of covering the cost.

Mr Donnelly said the council had looked at increasing dividends and using reserves, but did not see that there was any capacity to "pull those levers" any more.

Crs Andrew Noone and Hilary Calvert also wanted to see more money spent on pest control, but noted that $3.3million was already a "significant jump" in the council’s service.

"The additional impact on total rates is a step too far at this point," Cr Noone said.

Councillors agreed to fund the work through a regional targeted rate, sharing the cost across all ratepayers, based on land value.


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