Peppercorn rental deals to continue
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.