ES chairman backs 20% rise

Environment Southland chairman Nicol Horrell.

“I NEVER thought when I came on to this council I would support a 20% rise.”

This was how Environment Southland (ES) chairman Nicol Horrell summed up the long-term plan process on Tuesday, confirming their preferred stance following public consultation.

ES missed out on millions of dollars with no cruise ship income due to Covid-19, and proposed two rates options for its long-term plan 2021-2031.

Its preferred option, which was approved, was a 20% increase, to be followed up by a 5% increase in the next three years.

The second option was for a 16% average increase with the same subsequent increase as option one.

Conversation during deliberation and the hearing process, included the distribution of rates.

Mr Horrell said the rating system was not perfect.

He explained while it was a hard decision, it showed strong leadership.

“I know it’s been difficult for everybody, but we’ve thoroughly debated the options.”

A hearing was held last week where 15 submitters had their say on the ES long-term plan 2021-2031.

Central concerns included affordability of proposed rates increases as well as the fairness of the proportion of rates paid by different groups.

Another key topic was the development of a new rate for the Waituna rating district for bank stabilisation work.

Councillors agreed to move forward with the preferred option of a new rate being applied on a per hectare basis.

The plan will be audited and adopted on July 30.