ORC contemplates 19.8% rate rise

Stephen Woodhead.
Stephen Woodhead.
Just think of it as two cups of coffee.

That was the advice from yesterday's meeting in Cromwell of the Otago Regional Council when the subject of its proposed 19.8% general rate increase came up for discussion.

Chairman Stephen Woodhead said while the effect on rates sounded big in percentage terms, it amounted to just $12.17 for the average property, or ''two cups of coffee''.

Cr Ella Lawton said it was a significant increase, but Queenstown Lakes ratepayers would be happy with an even bigger increase if that meant resolving water quality issues in the region.

The meeting's main purpose was to adopt the council's draft long-term plan 2018-28 before it goes out for public consultation.

As well as the 19.8% increase for the 2018-19 year, the financial strategy that accompanies the plan proposes a second rate increase of 19.2% in the 2019-20 year with ''modest'' increases after that.

The strategy says general rates cover just 14% of the council's total $63 million of expenditure each year.

''Council has recognised that with additional demands from central government and a growing work programme to meet community expectations, we need to increase our general rates to a sustainable level,'' the strategy says.

Explaining the direction of the council's long-term plan, Mr Woodhead said in the past the council had a strong history concerning hazard management, while climate change had been ''sitting in the background''.

''Now, it is front and centre and will be the focus of a much bigger block of work in future.

''Climate change is an important issue and this document shows we are showing leadership in that [area].

The plan contained three specific climate change-related projects - South Dunedin, the Clutha Delta and work on ''high-level biodiversity and water availability''.

There was also a ''large block of work'' to be done on water issues, particularly water quality.

Mr Woodhead identified work on urban stormwater systems and their ''pollution points'' as a ''big ticket'', priority issue over the next 40 years, requiring the involvement of other councils and the community.

Cr Bryan Scott said there were some significant financial impacts ahead for the council as it took on increased responsibility.

Explaining, after the meeting, what the increased responsibilities were, director of corporate services Nick Donnelly said the council had had a ''big increase in public transport'', particularly in the Queenstown-Wakatipu area.

And Mr Woodhead said the formation of Emergency Management Otago had ''turned up on our budget''.

''We've put our hand up.

''Some of them [responsibilities] have come as legislative requirements through things like national policy statements from the Government ... and others we've worked through with our stakeholders or the community and said 'Yep, we'll do that'.''

In a ''one-off'' move, the council would also use some of its $45million of reserves to pay for some operating costs over the next ten years.

About 115,000 copies of a summary of the draft long-term plan will be distributed around the province and the full documents are on line.

Public consultation will be open until May 11.



No mention of the flash new multi-million dollar headquarters the ORC want to build for themselves, paid for by the ratepayers then...?

I'm thinking of sending out a letter to all the businesses I use. I'll ask them for a discount of $13. I'm sure they'll understand when I remind them "It's only 2 cups of coffee"

19% rate increase = 25% Pay increase = NO changes to school bus routes = BS
There's only one way to describe that smug smile ... unfortunately, it would never get printed.

"Just think of it as two cups of coffee"?
It amounted to just $12.17 for the average property, or ''two cups of coffee''.
What an ignorant insult. This kind of arrogant downplaying really boils my blood.
That's not $12.17 per week Mr Woodhead, it's $632 per year! Hows them apples?
Along with everything else, rumor has it petrol's going up too.