ORC Chair urges ratepayers to have their say

Media Release - 20 March 2024

Wide-ranging proposals for rating changes within the Otago Regional Council’s Long-Term Plan for 2024-2034 will affect every property around Otago, says ORC Chair Gretchen Robertson.

“The Long-Term Plan is the cornerstone for setting the direction of key work programmes and it’s imperative all ratepayers have their say on these proposals. We really need people to get involved and contribute to this vitally important plan,” she says.

The potential changes include how the Council rates properties, including those with targeted rates, public transport in Dunedin and Queenstown, trials of regional public transport, flood protection and drainage schemes, river and catchment management, harbour safety, freshwater farm plans, wilding pine control and environmental projects.

“We’re very conscious of peoples’ concerns in this challenging economic environment, where councils across the country are considering increasing rates,” she says.

Because of that, Cr Robertson urges people to have their say now and tell ORC what their preferences and priorities are for the decade-ahead.

Cr Robertson says for this reason ORC is holding seven drop-in sessions for ratepayers across the region next month between April 10-18, has online and postal options available and is urging ratepayers to contact their Councillors directly [all details below].

“Ratepayers shouldn’t be put off from giving feedback or making submissions given the large scope of changes, as they can choose areas of particular interest to them,” she says.

At a full Council meeting in Dunedin today Councillors were looking at the proposals. Following public feedback which is open until 26 April [details below], final decisions on the LTP are scheduled to be made at Council’s meeting in June.

 

Proposed rate changes

Cr Robertson says 10 different rates are being considered for changes so rates can be “more fairly applied”, to have a more workable, transparent, and understandable process.

“The changes won’t impact on the current level of services we’re providing, it’s about how the work programmes are funded and who pays for them,” she says.

She says there is a “significant focus” on public transport, large-scale environmental project funding and how rates are calculated.

“The calculation changes will be different for everyone, depending on where in Otago people live,” she says. That can be complex so we have created a rates estimator to use.”

 

Public transport investment

Input from targeted rates and Waka Kotahi |NZ Transport Agency is required, as it’s proposed during the next 10-years to spend $315 million in Dunedin and near $194 million in Queenstown.

Cr Robertson says ORC wants to build on services in both areas, with an eye to helping the environment by reducing congestion and carbon emissions, the latter including upgrading the bus fleet to electric.

Cr Robertson says following calls to expand public transport beyond Dunedin and Queenstown, ORC will investigate trialling public transport in several districts.

Oamaru and Wanaka services will be trialled, funded from a targeted rate, and Alexandra, Clyde, Cromwell to Queenstown and from Balclutha to Dunedin, including the airport, the latter all funded from the general rate.

“We want to strike a balance between improving public transport and keeping costs manageable,” she says.

 

Flood protection works

With about 218km of floodbanks protecting around 43,000 hectares, Cr Robertson says there is a new infrastructure strategy for these flood and drainage schemes, covering the next 30 years.

There is about $315 million in upgrades and infrastructure renewals required, including around $57 million required over the next 10-years.

“This area is crucial, given the impacts of climate change, settlement trends and changes in land use we’re seeing,” she says.

 

The environment

With government funding for environmental projects drawing to a close, Cr Robertson says there will be a “gap” for projects such as biodiversity restoration and pest control.

The LTP proposal is to continue existing funding but have a new, dedicated environmental fund of at least $500,000 available in 2025-2026, drawn from targeted rates.

“This would support Otago projects including protection and restoration of water catchments, land or threatened ecosystems,” she says.

 

Online at ORC web site from 28 March

 

Public feedback sought, until 28 April on orc.govt.nz/ltpfeedback

Have your say: visit orc.govt.nz/ltp

Online rates estimator for properties at orc.govt.nz/ratesestimator

Copies of the LTP are available directly from ORC offices and public libraries

By post or drop off written submissions to:

ORC, Level 2, 144 Rattray Street, Dunedin 9016

ORC, Alta House, Level 1, Terrace Junction, 1092 Frankton Road, Queenstown

Want to speak to a councillor?

Come along to one of our Long-Term Plan events being held across Otago, or get in touch with a councillor to talk about what’s proposed for the next 10 years.

 

Drop-in Events

DUNEDIN
Wednesday, 10 April | 12–1.30pm | South Dunedin Presbyterian Church Hall, 395 King Edward Street


MOSGIEL
Wednesday, 10 April | 4–7pm | Mosgiel Coronation Hall, 97 Gordon Road


ŌAMARU
Thursday, 11 April | 12–2pm and 4–7pm | Early Settlers Hall, 1 Severn Street


BALCLUTHA
Monday, 15 April | 12–2pm and 4–7pm | Cross Recreation Centre, 18 Glasgow Street


ALEXANDRA
Tuesday, 16 April | 12–2pm and 4–7pm | Alexandra Community Hall, Skird Street


QUEENSTOWN
Wednesday, 17 April | 4–7pm | Mezzanine Meeting Room, Queenstown Events Centre, Frankton


WĀNAKA
Thursday, 18 April | 4–7pm | Lake Wānaka Centre, Armstrong Room, 89 Ardmore Street

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