Councillors push back against ORC rates hike, seek cap

 

Michael Deaker. Photo: ODT
Michael Deaker. Photo: ODT

Gary Kelliher. Photo: ODT
Gary Kelliher. Photo: ODT
Otago regional councillors have pushed back against a recommended 20% rates rise next year.

Instead, councillors sought to cap the rates increase to what was indicated in the 2021-31 long-term plan - 18%.

Nevertheless, any increase will follow this year’s 48.5% rates rise.

Cr Michael Deaker said a 20% increase at this time would be "particularly merciless".

"If I was a general ratepayer, which I am, I would be spitting sparks," Cr Deaker said.

"I’m suggesting that before we make any decision about lifting that 18% - that God knows is high enough - we have a very sharp look at the proposed expenditure and we have another sharp look at the word ‘no’."

Cr Gary Kelliher said there needed to be an upper limit on a proposed rates increase otherwise councillors would be saying ratepayers were a "bottomless pit".

"I for one am not prepared to have an ever-increasing upper limit on these increases year by year," Cr Kelliher said.

The council is in the first year of a long-term plan that was heralded as pivotal in the council’s history when it was approved in June.

But the rates rise has not been popular with some, and several councillors pushed back at a staff report which the council’s finance committee was asked to consider last week.

Staff had finished a review of year 2 in the long-term plan, the report said.

The review process included an aim to keep a check on the pressure to do more at the council, and rein in spending to within or at least close to the planned 18% total rates increase, the report said.

Staff spoke to councillors about the direction the council was taking at workshops in October, it said.

Among the changes signalled in the report was about $500,000 in targeted rates for a restructure and associated increase in staffing for Civil Defence Emergency Management, which the council runs.

A $500,000 increase in general rates was deemed necessary as work picked up across the range of the organisation’s work, which also included the addition of a few new staff.

Cr Hilary Calvert initiated the push for the forecast 18% rise to function as a maximum increase.

She noted that auditors of the council’s annual report for 2020-21 said the council had spent millions more than the amount in the budget for each of the last five years.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

Comments

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20% rate rise for 100% incompetence. Thanks but no thanks ORC management, its time for you to resign instead

Nice to see push back from an almost 50% increase this year that they feel a 18% increase is too much why not the push back 12 months prior and just out of interest can someone explain why we have to pay for 2 councils in one city? Guess you have to make sure we have lots of so called elected members representing us. Shame very few of them do

Spitting sparks is an understatement Cr Deaker, it's time to sell the property that the ORC has, a council does not require property for any reason, and it's quite right to bring up the FACT that the rate payers are not a bottomless pit of money and that goes for the DCC as well.

Yes I agree. 2% more lets draw a line. Of course the other 66.5% is perfectly acceptable though. Ahh lip service its great

The vast majority of what the ORC is supposed to do, is keep farmers from further destroying our water and landscape, for their own profit.
It appears, time and time again, that they are terrible at doing this, and now they want to hike our rates to try and do it a different way. One of their biggest issues is that the farmers legal war fund is so much greater than theirs.
If only there was a bigger entity that could take on the farmers. A sort of collective regional council if you will....
Oh wait, there is! Bring on three waters I say, and stop this inefficient tinkering and bureaucratic wasting of money.

Lol, three waters has nothing to do with the regional council and 100% to do with the District Council. Your credibility is gone.

Since the appointment of the current executive we have seen more than $20 million spent looking for new office accommodation, the number of staff doubled, failure to meet basic RMA responsibilities for water and air quality, a breakdown of relationships between Councillors and the Executive, a 72% rates increase. None of these things have added any value to the services provided. Whatever this Council touches fails, a further increase in rates is more waste at our expense.

Crocodile Tears. These people are the architects of the 72% rates rise and the failure of ORC to meet ratepayers expectations. They are treating ratepayers with contempt if they really think we are dumb enough to think they care less. I wonder what they are going to spend their $6,200 bonus following the Hobbs resignation? They are utterly despicable!

The problem is, much like central government, the majority of voters are either ill-informed or idiots. They vote for the pretty face or familiar name. Many a competent person has run for Council and did not obtain the numbers. So we get the dregs instead.

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