User-pays pro­ce­dure pro­posed for jet­ties

The Southland Times - - News - Dave Nicoll

The Ste­wart Is­land Jet­ties Sub­com­mit­tee wants to charge com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors that use the is­land’s wharves and jet­ties.

On Mon­day, a re­port writ­ten by coun­cil pol­icy an­a­lyst Robyn Rout will be pre­sented to the com­mit­tee at its meet­ing, seek­ing ap­proval to in­ves­ti­gate a user-pays sys­tem for com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors.

The re­port says the sub­com­mit­tee has sug­gested charg­ing op­er­a­tors $1.50 for each pas­sen­ger who has pur­chased a re­turn fare.

Cur­rently, the coun­cil is­sues li­censes to com­mer­cial users of the jet­ties and wharves for an an­nual fee of $1350 plus GST, the re­port says.

Eight li­cences were is­sued in 2014, that have a term of 10 years.

How­ever, coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Steve Ruru said the coun­cil could not charge for use of the wharves un­der the re­source con­sents the coun­cil held.

Ruru un­der­stood there was a his­tor­i­cal agree­ment be­tween the op­er­a­tors to pay the cur­rent fees they had agreed on to the coun­cil.

In the re­port, Rout says the idea for a user-pays sys­tem was raised in Oc­to­ber last year, when the com­mit­tee was dis­cussing the jet­ties for the Long-Term Plan 2018-2028.

It was timely to look at a charg­ing sys­tem now with the sched­uled re­build of the Ulva Is­land jetty, Rout says. Any de­tails of a charg­ing sys­tem for the wharves would need to be in the coastal per­mit for the new Ulva wharf, Rout says.

The coun­cil would in­ves­ti­gate op­tions for a fee sys­tem that would be both easy and af­ford­able.

A re­cent con­sul­ta­tion with the com­mu­nity iden­ti­fied that lo­cal users un­der­stood the need to pay for their use of jet­ties.

There was a con­cern on the is­land that there was no long-term plan­ning in place to man­age the jet­ties and it left the is­land vul­ner­a­ble, she says.

‘‘There was unan­i­mous agree­ment that the wharves should be self-fund­ing and not a bur­den on ratepay­ers alone.’’

When look­ing at a fee sys­tem, the coun­cil needed to con­sider the fact that it also had a pro­posal to in­crease the Ste­wart Is­land vis­i­tor levy to $15, Rout says.

Some of the rea­son­ing be­hind in­creas­ing the levy was to gen­er­ate money to use on the jet­ties.

It may not be well re­ceived to con­sider a new fee sys­tem for com­mer­cial users at this time, Rout says.

Ste­wart Is­land Com­mu­nity Board chair­man Jon Sprag­gon said the com­mit­tee, of which he was a mem­ber, raised the idea of a user­pays sys­tem but said the coun­cil put it off be­cause of the re­source con­sent is­sue.

The coun­cil was wait­ing un­til it was re­newed the con­sent for the Ulva Is­land jetty to ad­just all of the jetty con­sents to al­low the coun­cil to charge peo­ple, Sprag­gon said.

Sprag­gon thought the com­mu­nity wanted to get the wharves up­graded and then see them be­come user-pays af­ter, he said.

Ruru said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion process would take be­tween three to six months to be com­pleted.

Ulva Is­land Ferry and Wa­ter Taxi oper­a­tor Rak­iura Herzhoff said he was not aware the coun­cil was con­sid­er­ing a user-pays sys­tem for the jet­ties un­til he was con­tacted for com­ment.

Herzhoff thought it was a good idea to be putting money into the wharves, but said the fee would need to be rea­son­able and not im­pact lo­cal busi­nesses.

He was keen to know more and hoped there would be more dis­cus­sion be­tween peo­ple about the idea.

Herzhoff be­lieved the wharves should be run as a busi­ness and said a land­ing fee was not an un­com­mon prac­tice else­where.

‘‘There was unan­i­mous agree­ment that the wharves should be self-fund­ing and not a bur­den on ratepay­ers alone.’’ Robyn Rout

NI­COLE JOHN­STONE/STUFF

The ferry wharf on Ste­wart Is­land.

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