Councillors protest rates rise

The Otago Regional Council is pushing ahead with a proposed 9.1% rates rise despite the unprecedented national lockdown and the predicted economic hardship ahead due to Covid-19, and despite the fact the majority of councillors are protesting the move.

In a letter to council chairwoman Marian Hobbs on Thursday, deputy chairman Cr Michael Laws and six other councillors called for the council to examine its priorities before proceeding with the consultation approved on March 11, before the new reality of Covid-19 hit New Zealand.

‘‘Given the current Covid-19 emergency and its associated economic, social and political effects, we strongly believe that the Otago Regional Council needs to re-evaluate its policy and financial priorities for the next 12 months,’’ he said.

‘‘We do so in the knowledge that the tourism economy in New Zealand has collapsed and that there will be no short-term recovery. The consequences will be particularly severe for the Otago region, especially the Dunstan districts. New Zealand’s primary export earner has effectively ceased.

‘‘We believe that any national or regional recovery will be based upon the agrarian economy and the production of food.’’

Ms Hobbs said yesterday unlike some councils around the country, the ORC had not had the time to convene an emergency meeting to make ‘‘last-minute alterations’’ to its plans.

‘‘In some respects, this timing has been unfortunate.

‘‘However, in another sense, it now enables our annual plan to be adjusted through the normal consultative process.

‘‘We will take on-board the feedback of the community, and the way we fund our work programme will be up for discussion again before the plan is adopted and rates are struck,’’ she said.

Online-only feedback for the plan opened on Thursday.

It was opposed by Cr Laws, and Crs Hilary Calvert, Carmen Hope, Gary Kelliher, Kevin Malcolm, Andrew Noone and Kate Wilson.

The letter to Ms Hobbs also called for the council to halt consultation on Plan Change 7, and said that ‘‘the plan should be entirely withdrawn’’.

‘‘Similarly, we need to review the fundamentals and logic that led to the Omnibus Plan Change and the [Regional Policy Statement].’’

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

Comments

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Typical politician...don't let a good crisis go to waste. A crisis like this either makes or breaks a politician. They either become hero's or zero's. Hobbs just became a big, fat zero! A perfect example of what's killing Dunedin and the South. Another "expert" bludging off the government teet. Elections have consequences and this is what voter apathy brings to public office. Voters, remember what Hobbs is doing as you pay your rates. Let the anger and disgust fester until the next election. Send all these clowns back to the circus! We want competent, professional and compassionate leadership. ORC shouldn't even be getting paid, they aren't essential.

"The Otago Regional Council is pushing ahead with a proposed 9.1% rates rise". Absolutely ridiculous, typical self entitled orc, sounds like people should protest by not paying the increased rates.

Talk about tone-deaf? People in the community are losing their jobs, tourism is dead for the foreseeable future and ORC plans on ramming through a rates increase anyway? The entire budget they are seeking an increase of rates for was pre-CORVID-19, how could it be valid? Wouldnt a more logical course of action be to re-evaluate the plan and budget AFTER the CORVID-19 crisis ends? Typically, when an organization encounters tough economic situations they trim staff and cut spending. Most of the executive staff take a pay cut. Has ORC cut pay for the senior staff? As a retired MP Hobbs shouldn't need the salary so she should set an example like Bidrose and take a voluntary pay cut. The same holds true for the other members of the board. It's inconceivable that any self-respecting politician would want to inflict more economic pain on citizens in light of the long term economic pain many on our community will be experiencing for the foreseeable future. People like Hobbs who have retired from the national goverment should stay out of local government and stop trying to milk the system for all its worth! After all, its politicians that have gotten us into the mess with the CORVID19.

Simple solution to all ratepayers, if the rise goes ahead.......just dont pay any amount of it! What will they do? Take everybodies homes? Id like to see them try it!

Nothing to do with the recent 40 odd percent rise in RV's of course. This is just another filthy attempt at a cash grab from an unsympathetic, bloated, struggling council, and just when we don't need it ! Now watch some out-of-touch councilor come out and say, "well, it's just a cup of coffee a day"

Sadly the left in dunedin voted Hobbs in and they will at next election as they vote left irrespective of how they performed or what they offer...the left need their heads read voting her in this time around. If they average otago-ite witnessed how Hobbs and Laws acted after the elections in the first meeting electing the chair, almost everyone would be disgusted...

What we need when this crisis is over is a complete reform of how our local governments work and operate. The local councils have not only proven to be unable to respond in any meaningful timely manner but also to be unable to promise future assistance. Most people could see this crisis coming but our local governments forged on, business as usual, with their plans to increase public spending. Now the crisis is here the best they can offer is to reassure us that they will carry on, business as usual unless the government instruct otherwise. I also think most people will not be fooled PR pay cut stunts.

I will pay the amount of service I receive from the ORC- ZERO. This crowd of technocrats are totally non-essential.

@Driver1: Well said, and exactly right. Let them try. After I refuse to pay this perverted increase, they can repossess my house when they pry my cold dead fingers from the door.

Note this well, Ms Hobbs: We. Will. ALL. Revolt.

I suspect this increase will be pushed through as Mrs Hobbs hasn’t a clue that there is a global pandemic happening. Additionally, this will be the litmus test that Mr Hawkins (Dunedin’s “completely anonymous Mayor at time of crisis”) is looking at, to push forward with DCC rate rises.

These people are academics with no real world experience - good voting Otago!

Good Point. Fingers crossed that he keeps his head in the sand. If he doesn't do anything nobody has to fix it.

Good for those suggesting holding off the rates rise. The rise is unjustifiable anyway but really bad in the current circumstances. This is what happens when yet another failed labour politician gets involved in local councils. Hobbs should resign.
The real question really is, do we need the ORC in the first place?

Neither of these 2 idiots got my vote and I too will not be paying these rates

Neither did I. In fact, I didn't vote for Cull and his henchmen either. I'm tired of so-called University and Media types and their self entitled attitudes. I'm tired of seeing the hard earnt money of ratepayers being squandered on ego projects. I'm tired of seeing basic infastructure and services rundown.
It's well past time that we need a major reshuffle and reform in regard to WHO gets to run our councils. Fact is, we are not getting 'well rounded' experienced people holding important office and making critical decisions on our behalf. What we constantly see is 'seat warmers', looking to grow their incomes on the backs of wage and salary earners. Sitting on your backside 'theorizing' has no foundation.The study of psychology, economics, media, or any other 'seat warming' study is NOT a tangable experience that can be measured. To appreciate the toil of others you need to work along side them, only then can you consider yourself 'experienced'. For example, look what Cull does now, he wouldn't know a band-aid from a panodol, yet he's making some very big decisions. The lack of work/business 'experience/balance' speaks volumes, as does the lack of respect for the working public.

Wanda W- Your last sentence is hard to fathom.

I for one thought she was perfectly clear.

Sorry, she can't use crayons and coloring books to explain it. This medium doesn't allow it. Try and be more like your idol Hawkins, use your imagination. He does that everyday as mayor...just not very successfully.

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