Increase of 26.9% for ORC general rates

Cr Michael Deaker.
Cr Michael Deaker.
Otago Regional Council general rates will jump 26.9% and not be subject to formal public consultation.

Yesterday the council passed changes to its draft annual plan which included an overall rate revenue of $26.36million.

This is an increase of $2.37million in general rates and $0.82million in targeted rates compared to last year.

The combined general and targeted rates increase is 13.8%.

This would mean the average general rate bill increase would be $24.65 in Dunedin city, $23.85 in Queenstown Lakes, $11.88 in Central Otago, $10.43 in Clutha and $13.63 in Waitaki.

Cr Michael Deaker said the ORC's expenditure was rising because the community wanted the council to do more.

The extra spending is spread throughout council works, however, the largest leap is biodiversity, rising from $1,801,000 last year to $3,761,000.

It was also adopting a ''less formal'' approach to public engagement, which meant no hearings or formal submissions and the draft document would not be delivered to every household.

A paper to council said it was able to do this as there were no ''significant or material differences'' from when it consulted the public on its long-term plan last year.

It would still seek feedback, and instead engage through means including community events, video content, media releases and social media.

Cr Michael Laws said there would be many groups who now would not be able to give feedback.

''You guys don't understand democracy.''

Council corporate services general manager Nick Donnelly hit back, saying it was Cr Laws who did not understand.

''You obviously haven't read the report and don't understand the legislation.''

Council chief executive Sarah Gardner said it was the way many city and district councils in the region operated.

Cr Gretchen Robertson said previous formal consultation had not met the needs of the community.

''People like other ways of engaging ... I think we're going to learn a lot.''

Cr Andrew Noone said he thought the new method would be ''just as effective''.

The council sent out a release yesterday describing the rates increase as ''small''.

Otago Federated Farmers president Simon Davies said 26.9% seemed to him to be a big increase.

It would work out as between $250 and $500 extra for his property, he said.

''Which is not insignificant ... it's a bit frustrating.''

He had his own concerns about the council's fiscal decisions, he said.

However, he understood much of the cost was coming from new rules which were being pushed on it by central Government, he said.

''Things like new freshwater management standards - if we want to do this, someone's got to pay for it.''

General rates make up 16.5% of council revenue, whereas targeted rates make up 22.4%.

The council's total revenue would be $67,928,000 this financial year compared to $64,221,000 last year.

Comments

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This organisation is a blackhole. I have called them in the past to ask why should I pay such increases when I receive absolutely NOTHING, directly from them in terms of services. They gave a 'standard stock' answer. If I took someones money without justifying it via services/products- it would be called 'theft'. Technocrats feathering their own nest and self worth.

Mr Donnelly sounds like a character out of Orwell's 1984 — democracy is whatever the current government defines it to be.

This raises the question of why we need ORC in the first place. They have proved to be incompetent at most levels, isn't it time they were scrapped?

Mr. Michael Deaker, could you please define the meaning of democracy? It is for my child homework. Thanks

I'd like to know what is meant by new freshwater management standards?

'Cr Michael Deaker said the ORC's expenditure was rising because the community wanted the council to do more'. In truth "the ORC"s expenditure was rising because staff and councillors are paid excessive amounts (by us ratepayers) and use it to do little except waste money on empire building and self promotion. I never hear a good word about them.

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