Charges for jetty use to be investigated

The Southland District Council will investigate charges for non-recreational jetty use on Stewart Island.

Yesterday it approved $20,000 for this work to be funded from the Stewart Island Jetties subcommittee general reserves.

At present, the council issues licences to non-recreational users of jetties and charges $1350 per year for each vessel, allowing them to board passengers and load goods.

The subcommittee last year agreed the license fee should be removed as it might not adequately take into account the amount a licensee used the jetties or the damage caused.

Instead, it proposed commercial operators should be charged $1.50 per passenger for wharf usage. This scheme would be investigated further as part of this process.

According to the report, research had identified the Stewart Island community was aware of the need to pay for the jetty usage and supported a strategic plan.

However, subcommittee members pointed this might not be the best time to undertake this work as the visitor levy, which also relates to funding jetties, had just been reviewed.

It also said if they chose a charging regime that increased costs, residents would believe the council was not considering economic impacts on the community and local business.

There was a public outcry last year when the council proposed raising the visitor levy fee from $5 to $15.

They voted last December to keep the levy at $5 while a sustainability report of the island was completed.

At the same meeting, the council approved the replacement of the Mararoa Rd Bridge, which is closed due to safety concerns.

It awarded the contract to SouthRoads Ltd for the tender price of $673,923.53.

The replacement bridge would also be a single lane but would be much shorter, to keep down the cost.

This could increase the risk of the bridge potentially being out of use due to flooding.

Strategic manager transport Hartley Hare said local residents had been consulted and agreed to the move.

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