Pep­per­corn rental deals to con­tinue

Otago Daily Times - - Regions - JONO ED­WARDS and STAFF RE­PORTERS

OTHER Otago coun­cils will not fol­low Cen­tral Otago’s lead of mov­ing away from ‘‘pep­per­corn’’ rentals of ru­ral fire sites.

Last week the Cen­tral Otago Dis­trict Coun­cil de­cided to de­cline Fire and Emer­gency New Zealand’s (Fenz) re­quest to con­tinue $1 rentals for four ru­ral fire sites and in­stead en­ter ne­go­ti­a­tions with the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The coun­cil of­fered th­ese rents for the sites while they were oc­cu­pied by the Otago Ru­ral Fire Author­ity, but as of July it be­came in­cor­po­rated into Fenz.

Waitaki Dis­trict Coun­cil chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Paul Hope said it would not charge com­mer­cial rates for rentals of its four ru­ral fire sta­tions in Ham­p­den, Kakanui, We­ston and Macraes.

The build­ings were built with vol­un­teer and com­mu­nity sup­port and pro­vided an es­sen­tial com­mu­nity ser­vice, he said.

Fenz would main­tain the build­ings and make any im­prove­ments they deemed ap­pro­pri­ate.

Clutha Dis­trict Coun­cil reg­u­la­tory ser­vices group man­ager David Camp­bell said the coun­cil agreed to con­tinue pep­per­corn rental agree­ments with Fenz on a two­year term for its two sites in Wai­hola and Pa­p­a­towai.

The coun­cil pre­vi­ously dealt with the author­ity so was ‘‘fairly re­laxed’’ about con­tin­u­ing the agree­ment un­til Fenz was clear on what it wanted to do with the build­ings, whether that meant con­tin­u­ing the lease or pur­chas­ing the build­ings out­right, he said.

Queen­stown Lakes Dis­trict Coun­cil com­mu­ni­ca­tions and en­gage­ment man­ager Naell Crosby­Roe said the coun­cil had no plans to move away from a pep­per­corn rental ba­sis.

The coun­cil pro­vides leases to the fire ser­vice for two build­ings, one in Kingston and one in Glenorchy. They are next sub­ject to a rent re­view in 2019.

Cen­tral Otago Dis­trict Coun­cil chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Bernard Murphy said he could not com­ment on what other coun­cils were do­ing.

‘‘We have deal­ings with other gov­ern­ment agen­cies and that’s on a com­mer­cial ba­sis, so given that Fenz is arm’s length from us, just in fair­ness to the ratepay­ers we just want to deal on a com­mer­cial ba­sis with them like we do with ev­ery­one else.’’

Fire and Emer­gency New Zealand re­gion five re­gional man­ager ru­ral Mike Grant said he did not want to com­ment on the sit­u­a­tion be­fore he had ar­ranged a meet­ing with the coun­cil and dis­cussed the is­sue with them.

jono.ed­wards@odt.co.nz

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