Clutha District Councillors made a number of Annual Plan decisions at yesterday's Council meeting. The decisions were made after Council received 136 submissions from the public.
The Annual Plan 2016/17 will not be officially adopted until 15 June 2016, which is also when the rates will be set for the coming year.The overall rates revenue received by Council will increase by 3.39%, with average urban rate increases ranging from between 5.86% in Balclutha to 0.46% in Clinton, while average rural rates generally show no increases. However, as the 3.39% rates revenue increase includes additional revenue from rural water scheme growth with more water units being purchased, the projected average rates increase to ratepayers across the district is 2.85%.
Council's decisions included:
To install a pumping station at Palmer Place in Taieri Mouth to mitigate stormwater issues in the area. Palmer Place was identified as a high priority for stormwater improvements, with the current situation having a significant impact on a number of properties. A pumping station will provide more capacity for the catchment to handle heavy or prolonged rainfall.
For Council to start a dust suppression programme that sees a semi-permanent sealing solution applied to roads, paid in part or in full by residents, in conjunction with permitting residents (subject to conditions) to arrange and pay for oiling their road themselves. This combination accommodates the preferences expressed by 70% of submitters. Until now Council had shared the cost of oiling the roads with residents but with the cost going up by more than 500% and Otago being one of the few areas where oil-based dust suppression is still permitted, it was time to review the situation.
To make two carparks in the Council-owned carpark by the Warehouse available (at fair market rental) for a proposed electric car charging station.
To introduce voluntary targeted rates schemes for home insulation (where homeowners can get financial assistance to insulate their homes under a recognised scheme, such as EECA), for connection to sewerage schemes or extensions (where a homeowner wants to connect to Council scheme and the pay the cost through their rates over time) and for dust suppression sealing.
To provide financial assistance for the 'house and land packages' in Kaitangata being promoted by the community group Kaitangata and District Promotions. Assistance would include waiving/discounting Council fees to a maximum of $5,000 using Council's existing fee reimbursement scheme.
To increase the Cross Recreation Centre's annual operating grant by $10,000 to $ 43,300. Representatives of the Centre presented a business case outlining the expected benefits from the increase, including an ability for it to generate more revenue as a result. Councillors were told during submissions that the Centre has been so successful with the number of users jumping from 60,000 to 80,000 that staff have had no capacity to pursue alternative funding and revenue streams. The funding increase should allow staff to do this. Councillors acknowledged the tremendous success of the Centre during the meeting.
To provide a one-off increase of $10,000 towards the South Otago curator position at South Otago Museum in Balclutha. Council already funds $32,800 towards the position. In additional, Council also provides $58,825 to the six museums in the district (including South Otago) towards their operational costs such as power and rates. This one-off increase of $10,000 towards the South Otago curator position would not be released until the South Otago Historical Society, which operates the Museum, is the subject of an independent review of its governance and operations.
During the meeting Councillors also made the decision (following a public consultation process) to extend the current central Balclutha liquor ban to the following areas:
- George Street between Clyde and Charlotte Streets
- John Street between Clyde and James Streets
- James Street between Elizabeth and Renfrew Streets
- Elizabeth Street between James and Clyde Streets
- 6, 8 and 10 Elizabeth Street.
This follows the Police asking Council to consider extending the ban in central Balclutha, particularly around the areas upgraded during the recent main street project that has created attractive areas for people to congregate.
Mayor Bryan Cadogan thanked all those who made the time to submit and take part in the Annual Plan process. Councillors will now adopt the final Annual Plan and officially strike the rates at a Council meeting on 15 June 2016.