Lease interest for land owned by community board sought

Mike Kerr.
Mike Kerr
Expressions of interest are being sought for leases for farmland owned by the Maniototo Community Board (MCB), as the board decides whether to lease or sell the land to help fund a grant for the Maniototo Hospital rebuild.

The board leases out two farm properties it owns in the Lower Gimmerburn district, and the land has been identified as a potential source of income for the rebuild grant.

The MCB will provide up to $2 million towards the rebuild, to be either repaid by Maniototo ratepayers through rates or funded through sales of the two Maniototo farm properties.

In April the board decided to renew the leases on the two properties for a year while it decided whether it was best to sell or continue leasing one or both of the properties.

Farmer Mark Harris has leased the two areas since 2008, a 76.8ha area on Hall Rd at $6500 a year and 117.8ha on Wilson Rd at $18,000.

The leases would expire on March 31, 2019, and expressions of interest had been invited "from new lessee interest", Central Otago District Council property and facilities manager Mike Kerr said.

A preferred lessee for each property would then be chosen to further discuss future leasing , Mr Kerr said.

He said getting expressions of interest in leasing the farms was part of scoping options to fund the hospital grant.

"But the board is yet to determine the most appropriate method going forward, such as borrowing to fund, funding from property sales in whole or part and loan funding the balance, or a mix of both. A report will be presented to the board on all funding options."

Maniototo Health Services Ltd leaders had indicated they would need the council funding this month, Mr Kerr said.

The MCB already had access to money to pay the grant, regardless of what decision was made, Mr Kerr said.

Council staff had provided MCB members with additional information about the financial implications of the different options, he said.

• Reporting to community boards about council work being done in their region will be improved, council chief executive Sanchia Jacobs says.

Some MCB members at last month’s MCB meeting said they felt there had not been sufficient communication recently from council staff to board members about council initiatives in the Maniototo district — for example footpath sealing and a clamp-down on signage, which elected members had only heard about from residents.

Ms Jacobs said council did its best to keep elected members up to date, and did this primarily through weekly communication to elected members and update reports to committee and board meetings.

Historically, community boards have been advised of work being undertaken in their area, but this reporting had "slipped in the last year", and council was "committed to ensuring this occurs again from 2018", Ms Jacobs said.

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