Decision today on writing off Fenz debt

The Clutha District Council will decide at its meeting today whether to write off a significant loan to Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

In January last year it emerged Fenz owed a total of $1,162,591 to Waitaki, Clutha, Central Otago, Queenstown-Lakes District and Dunedin City councils, resulting from the transfer of rural fire responsibilities and associated assets from predecessor the Otago Rural Fire Authority (ORFA) in July 2017.

Current debt owed to Clutha by Fenz totals $113,884.57 - $34,491.72 on the transfer of ORFA assets, which formed part of Fenz's initial set-up, and $79,392.85 (as of February 28, 2019) on a rural fire tanker replacement.

The debts relate to Waihola and Papatowai fire stations.

In his report to council, Clutha group manager planning and regulatory Ian McCabe says while the $79,392.85 loan is budgeted to be repaid over the balance of a 25-year period, the $34,491.72 is not, and original debtor ORFA has since been dissolved.

For this reason, the report recommends writing off the smaller loan.

Although a loan in appearance, the assets relating to the funding would continue to remain in the district for its firefighting benefit, Clutha chief executive Steve Hill said last June.

To that extent, the situation with Fenz was ''unchanged'' from the days of the council's responsibilities to ORFA.

The report notes any change in the geographical use of the assets would be ''fully consulted'' with the Clutha community before approval.


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