Otago Daily Times

In­creased vis­i­tor levy comes back be­fore coun­cil

STE­WART IS­LAND

- ABBEY PALMER abbey.palmer@odt.co.nz

THE con­tentious mat­ter of in­creas­ing the Rak­iura­Ste­wart Is­land vis­i­tor levy from $5 to $15 has been brought back to the ta­ble.

South­land District Coun­cil’s com­mu­nity and strat­egy com­mit­tee yes­ter­day ap­proved a plan to com­plete a re­view of the vis­i­tor levy in time for the coun­cil’s 2022­23 an­nual plan.

The levy is $5 per per­son, although Ste­wart Is­land/Rak­iura res­i­dents, ratepay­ers, and vis­i­tors un­der 18 years old are not re­quired to pay it.

When the coun­cil last re­viewed the by­law and pol­icy in 2018, it pro­posed an in­crease of the levy to $15 to cover the cost of up­grad­ing build­ings.

How­ever, an out­cry from com­mu­nity mem­bers meant it agreed to keep the levy at $5 un­til fur­ther re­view­ing and com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion had been car­ried out.

When the re­view was com­pleted, the coun­cil would de­ter­mine whether the pro­posed $15 was ap­pro­pri­ate.

Yes­ter­day, coun­cil­lors

dis­cussed the time­line of the re­view, which in­cluded car­ry­ing out pre­con­sul­ta­tion with op­er­a­tors, hear­ings and de­lib­er­a­tions among sev­eral other steps.

Cr Bruce Ford said he was look­ing for­ward to hear­ing what the com­mu­nity thought of the pro­posed in­crease in public con­sul­ta­tion sched­uled for March 2022.

Cr Ge­orge Harpur said he was re­cently made aware of En­vi­ron­ment South­land’s marine fee, and sug­gested the coun­cil look into it as an op­tion for help­ing fund ser­vices.

How­ever, Cr Ford said the op­tion had been pre­vi­ously been in­ves­ti­gated and came to noth­ing.

‘‘It hasn’t gone any­where we would like it to . . . we’ve come to a dead end a cou­ple of times.’’

Coun­cil­lors agreed to fol­low­up on the marine fee ap­pli­ca­tion and de­ter­mine whether it could help fund ser­vices.

Cr Chris­tine Men­zies said de­cid­ing on an ap­pro­pri­ate cost for the levy would en­sure the bur­den did not fall on ratepay­ers.

If the coun­cil was to in­crease the levy, it would con­sult through an­nual and long­term plan­ning pro­cesses, and a by­law amend­ment process.

The in­crease would not take ef­fect un­til Oc­to­ber 1 in the year fol­low­ing the de­ci­sion, and ap­proved op­er­a­tors would have 15 months lead­in time be­fore they started col­lect­ing the new amount.

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