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Concerns about rates, public transport targeted rate - ORC Long Term Plan submissions

The Wānaka App

12 May 2024, 5:06 PM

Concerns about rates, public transport targeted rate - ORC Long Term Plan submissionsA major theme of submissions was the proposal for Queenstown’s public transport to be subsidised by Wānaka ratepayers. PHOTO: Supplied

Otago Regional Council (ORC) has received more than 400 public submissions on its Long Term Plan, giving strong views and feedback from all over Otago on a range of topics.


ORC has proposed a programme of works in the draft LTP which would mean Otago ratepayers would need to fork out for an average rates increase of 18.6 percent in 2024-2025, 11.2 percent in 2025-26 and 9.4 percent in 2026-27.



The increase would be even higher for Queenstown Lakes ratepayers because of a proposed targeted rate for public transport (PT) which would mean Wānaka ratepayers would subsidise Queenstown PT.


Read more: Public transport dominates discussion at drop-in session


The council received 70 submissions from the Queenstown Lakes District area. 

 

ORC said major themes of public submissions included concern about rising rates, and both support and opposition to investing in PT in Dunedin and Queenstown.



There was significant commentary around whether the council should stop, change or pause the amount proposed to be spent on PT in the region.

 

Submitters were also interested in proposals associated with transport trials in the likes of Wānaka and Oamaru. Some asked for the reintroduction of train services in Otago.

 

People felt investment was needed in Queenstown’s public transport system due to traffic congestion to reduce emissions and to extend service hours. They also wanted public transport to support local activities, such as swim clubs.


Wānaka Upper Clutha Community Board member John Wellington and QLDC deputy mayor Quentin Smith in discussion with ORC councillor Alexa Forbes at the Wānaka drop-in session last month. PHOTO: Wānaka App


ORC said there appeared to be more support for introducing the proposed target and general rating splits for flood and drainage services. Extending the general rate component of these costs across the region was also favoured.


For and against views were also shared on proposals for new rates being introduced to fund activities such as navigational safety and catchment management plans, and on ORC’s financial strategy and rating changes, with some people’s rates proposed to reduce, others to go up, under a raft of new rating categories.

 

“Understandably for many at this time, the cost of providing services, the size of rates bills and affordability is a concern for people,” ORC chair Gretchen Robertson said.



“While some also submitted it was still important to continue looking after Otago’s water quality, air and environment as a whole.” 

 

A new environmental fund (put forward because the government’s funding for such projects to protect the environment is coming to an end) received broad support.

 

Many favoured funding the new dedicated environmental fund for large-scale projects that would be over and above the council’s grants scheme such as the annual ECO Fund.

 

Large-scale environmental projects funded under this new proposed scheme might include pest management and water quality projects aimed at maintaining the environmental gains made when the government provided the funding.

 

A public hearing for 53 submitters wishing to present their views in person will take place on May 20 at the Queenstown Lakes District Council chambers (11am-2pm).


After ORC has considered all submissions, it will make final decisions about the consulted proposals on May 29 and 30. The final Long-Term Plan will be prepared for adoption on June 26. Implementation of the plan will begin on July 1.