User-pays procedure proposed for jetties
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
The ferry wharf on Stewart Island.