Media release

Media release: ORC approves draft Annual Plan, with new rates forecast, to now seek public feedback

Thursday 23 February 2023

The Otago Regional Council on Wednesday approved its draft 2023/24 Annual Plan, forecasting an 18.8% average increase in rates across Otago. In dollar terms, this means an $84 rise on annual average rates per household.

From mid-March, Otago residents will be able to download a copy of the draft annual plan from the council’s website and work out the impact the proposed Annual Plan would have on their households and businesses rates compared to the previous year’s rates. Ratepayers and stakeholders will also be able to comment whether they are supportive of the direction of the current work programme.

ORC Chair Gretchen Robertson says the Council has agreed there is no substantive change to the council’s consulted long-term work programme as funded by this year’s rates. This means the council can proceed with communicating that the planned-for work continues, and that the cost of that, with cumulative inflationary pressures now built in, will proceed also.

The difference is that inflationary pressures play a major role in bringing the general and targeted rates combined, signalled in the Council’s  LTP, up from the forecast 12% in 2021 to 18.8% - or 6.8% more on what was earlier forecast in the LTP. Targeted rates (for items such as flood schemes) will rise by 15.2% on average, which is very close to the original Long-Term Plan targeted rates estimate.

 “We understand that any rates increase is a very difficult message at this tough time for people. However the council is also affected by inflation on wages and goods and services, which is also a national problem. The positive investment ratepayers make is never taken for granted,” she says.

 “Last year we absorbed inflationary pressures and unfortunately, that is no longer an option, given significant rising costs similar to many other local authorities. Inflation has been the wild card since the initial 12% forecast was made and has been building over the past year.

“We are committed to the work our communities have asked us to do, to raise Otago’s environmental standards, and provide for public transport services, and so we are proposing to stick to this year’s work programme.”

Chair Robertson added that no substantial change to the work programme means the council only needs to communicate and seek some feedback on this draft Annual Plan. This is because ORC has not significantly changed this Long-Term Plan Year 3 (2023/24) work programme from that initially consulted with communities in 2021.

“We don’t want to duplicate effort and would rather keep the process of full consultation with Otago’s communities for the next long-term plan, which we will begin building this year and into next year.”

The date of updated Your Say and web material, including the ability for people to work out rates, will be publicised in future communications.