AN idea has been floated to introduce an electronically-monitored landing fee for non-recreational jetty users on Rakiura/Stewart Island.
After three years of back and forth discussions between Southland District Council (SDC) and various Rakiura/Stewart Island jetty stakeholders, a new method for charging non-recreational jetty users was presented at a council meeting last week.
Councillor Karyn Owen questioned whether or not the Rakiura-Stewart Island Community Board had considered the option of charging a base rate, plus a landing fee, which could be monitored by an electronic tag-on, tag-off system.
It would cut administration time and costs for operators, as well as cover the cost of jetty “wear and tear”.
Cr Bruce Ford said the board had not considered the option but was likely to be open to it.
At present, non-recreational users of the jetties hold a licence from the SDC to use the jetties for commercial purposes, including embarkation and disembarkation of passengers and for the loading and unloading of goods.
The annual licence fee is $1350.
In 2017, the Stewart Island/Rakiura jetties subcommittee suggested a new charging regime for non-recreational jetty use, based on patronage, might be more appropriate.
The three options initially outlined in the report presented to the council to consider were: a base fee with an additional charge based on the number of passengers carried for each vessel; a base fee with an additional charge based on vessel tonnage for each vessel; or keeping the current method, where each vessel is charged an annual licence fee.
The Rakiura/Stewart Island Community Board’s preferred option was a base fee with an additional charge based on the number of passengers.
While the council endorsed the board’s view at the meeting, they agreed to amend the report to allow for further discussion following comments made by the board’s chair Jon Spraggon.
Mr Spraggon said while all of the jetty stakeholders agreed with the need to pay fees, some were not on the same page with the charging method.
Cr Ebel Kremer suggested sitting around a table with all those involved in the decision-making process, including operators who had tried and tested different models, to work out a “fair, reasonable and sustainable” approach.
SDC policy analyst Robyn Rout amended the report to include the option of charging a base rate, plus an additional charge based on usage, to be applied from July 1, 2023, following consultation with the The Rakiura/Stewart Island Community Board and operators.
The decision would then be included in the Long Term Plan 2021/31.