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ORC's Long Term Plan open for submissions

The Central App

01 April 2024, 4:30 PM

ORC's Long Term Plan open for submissionsORC's Long Term Plan is currently on its website for the community to make a submission. PHOTO: File

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

“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 said.

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 said.

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.

The 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.

“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 said.

At a full council meeting in Dunedin in mid March, councillors were looking at the proposals.

Following public feedback, which is open until April 26, final decisions on the LTP are scheduled to be made at council’s meeting in June.

Cr Robertson said 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 said.

She said there was 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 said.

"That can be complex, so we have created a rates estimator to use.”

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 said 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.

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 trialed, 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 said.