Ratepay­ers foot­ing the bill

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

The Prime Min­is­ter plans to en­gage fur­ther with the six south­ern may­ors who wrote him a let­ter ap­peal­ing for help to deal with ‘‘ir­re­spon­si­ble’’ campers.

Cen­tral Otago Mayor Tim Cado­gan re­ceived a let­ter from Bill English on Tues­day thank­ing him, and the five other may­ors, for their let­ter out­lin­ing their frus­tra­tion with ir­re­spon­si­ble campers and their con­cern over the Govern­ment’s stance on a tourist levy.

The let­ter, drafted by Cado­gan, was sent to English on May 2. The let­ter was signed by Cado­gan, Waitaki District Mayor Gary Kircher, McKen­zie District Mayor Gra­ham Smith, South­land District Mayor Gary Tong, Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cado­gan and Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks

The dis­tricts were ‘‘bend­ing un­der the weight of prob­lems caused by ir­re­spon­si­ble campers,’’ Cado­gan wrote.

The Govern­ment cur­rently pro­vided $12 mil­lion over four years in co-fund­ing avail­able for the de­vel­op­ment of in­fra­struc­ture such as rub­bish bins, carparks, toi­lets or mi­nor wa­ter man­ager projects un­der the Re­gional Mid­sized Tourism Fa­cil­i­ties Grant Fund - but that was not enough, he said.

English said the need for fund­ing to pro­vide suit­able fa­cil­i­ties for tourism in the re­gion ‘‘was noted’’.

‘‘On 3 May my of­fice for­warded your let­ter to the Min­is­ter of Tourism, Hon Paula Ben­nett, for her con­sid­er­a­tion and we will dis­cuss the mat­ter fur­ther...Thank you for bring­ing your con­cerns to my at­ten­tion. I look for­ward to talk­ing to you be­fore too long.’’

Cado­gan said he had re­ceived a pos­i­tive re­sponse from the com­mu­nity sup­port­ing the move for a levy.

‘‘I have had a lot of peo­ple stop me in the street or email their sup­port for what we are say­ing.’’

A ‘‘mod­est’’ $20 tourism levy could pro­vide the funds needed to fund fa­cil­i­ties in high-use ar­eas that had low pop­u­la­tion rat­ing bases that could not af­ford to pay for the fa­cil­i­ties, he said in the let­ter.

Tourism Cen­tral Otago gen­eral man­ager Glenys Cough­lan said they were ‘‘right be­hind’’ the ini­tia­tive of a tourist levy. The fairest way would be to en­force it at the bor­der, rather than at a re­gional level, she said.

‘‘We think it is good this is be­ing raised at the high­est level.’’

MARTIN DE RUYTER

A tourist levy would help south­ern re­gions deal with ‘‘Ir­re­spon­si­ble’’ campers.

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