Council outlines strong direction in 10 year plan for Otago region
Wednesday, 22 March 2006
The Otago Regional Council is planning some major capital development as well as strengthening its core services over the next decade, as outlined in its draft Long Term Council Community Plan. The draft document was adopted today and will now go out for public consultation.
At this afternoon's extraordinary Council meeting, Chairman Stephen Cairns described the draft LTCCP as "an inclusive plan we can all be proud of, setting out the programme of action for the next ten years. We demonstrate in this document that we appreciate and listen to our community's views and opinions," Cr Cairns said.
Among the major projects being considered are a number of initiatives to promote transport efficiency and effectiveness around the region.
"We have set up a joint working party with the Dunedin City Council to investigate ways of improving our passenger transport services in Dunedin and our LTCCP allows for investigation of a pilot study into real time passenger information system and an integrated ticketing scheme. We also plan to look into the passenger service needs of Queenstown," Cr Cairns said. "In addition, following public comment, we've changed the Dunedin Passenger Transport rate from 15 differentials to two."
As well as continuing to provide for consultation on a possible Carisbrook upgrade, the plan provides for two new significant projects, the Orokonui Ecosanctuary and an Otago Minerals Aerial Geophysical Survey. An amount of $1 million has been earmarked for the Orokonui project, to be funded from reserves and payable over a four year period.
Air quality will be an important issue for Otago over the next few years, with the Government's introduction of the Air Quality National Environment Standard which sets a standard for air that must be achieved by 2013. Included in the draft LTCCP is provision for work to be undertaken in the region over the next seven years, to ensure this new standard is met.
In light of the expanding work-load facing the Otago Regional Council and its Dunedin office proving too small in recent years, the Council is considering options for increasing the space requirement within the LTCCP. One option is to construct a new office, at a cost of $12 million. This would be funded partly by a special Port Otago dividend and sales proceeds from the Stafford Street building, with the balance from reserves.
"This option would not only fulfil our space requirements, but it could be a golden opportunity to kick-start the Harbourside regeneration initiative" Cr Cairns said. "In the plan we have proposed that construction would start in 2007/8 and be completed in 2008/9."
The draft LTCCP continues to provide for the development of the Leith Lindsay Flood Protection Scheme. Construction works are scheduled to finish in 2010/11 and enhancement works in 2012/13.
"These major commitments go alongside our usual work programme which is focused on protecting and enhancing the Otago environment," Cr Cairns said.
The proposed general rate increase for the 2006/07 year is of 2.65%. Cr Cairns said the draft LTCCP provides two possible general rate scenarios, depending on a final decision on the way to fund the monitoring of consent compliance. "Should the current policy of meeting the Council's costs via the general rate continue, that rate would increase by 2.65%. Conversely, adoption of an option to fund 50% of the Council's current monitoring costs from consent holders would provide a 1.8% decrease in the general rate."
Cr Cairns said the draft plan had undergone close scrutiny from the Council, involving four workshops, two Committee rounds and two Council meetings. It has also received an unqualified audit opinion from the Auditor General.
The draft LTCCP will be available for consultation over a four week period from 3 April to 5 May. Copies will be available online on www.orc.govt.nz/Plans or from Otago Regional Council offices in Dunedin, Alexandra and Queenstown, as well as from city and district council service centres.
For more information
Cr Stephen Cairns
03 474 0827 or 021 190 1177
Director Corporate Services
03 474 0827 or 0274 327 224