Media release

ORC adopts Annual Plan for 2020-21

Wednesday 24 June 2020

The finished plan eliminates a general rates increase proposed in March.

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) today adopted its Annual Plan for the next financial year. Changes to the Plan’s funding and financial forecasts, following consultation, hearings and deliberation, eliminated a proposed general rates increase. Targeted rates will increase by 3.9%, creating an overall average total rates increase of 2.3% for Otago ratepayers.

Based on public feedback, Councillors made a range of additions to activity and expenditure for ORC in 2020-21, but chose a funding alternative that reduces the impact of rates increases. The revised financial forecast includes an increase of general reserve funded activity.

ORC Chair Marian Hobbs said the Council’s decision reflected the financial hardship being faced in Otago as a result of Covid-19.

“When we released our Proposed Annual Plan and opened consultation on the rates increase, the world looked pretty different. The Council’s decision to eliminate the proposed general rates increase recognises the uncertainty and stress that many people in Otago are facing as a result of Covid-19.

“I am very proud of the effort we have made as an organisation to commit to the same level of service that our communities expect of us, without burdening Otago people with significant rates rises.”

Cr Hobbs also thanked the public for having their input into the Annual Plan in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis.

“Through some unfortunate timing, we opened consultation on this plan on day one of alert level four. However, we still received around 100 submissions on the draft plan and we had over 30 people join us for online hearings. Their feedback was invaluable in advancing the Annual Plan to this stage. The community asked ORC to reconsider rates for the next year, and we have responded.”

Councillors also agreed to include the Wakatipu Ferry Service Trial Proposal in the Annual Plan 2020-21. The trial was consulted on as a parallel part of the annual planning process, and an overwhelming majority of respondents supported going ahead with it.