Notice is hereby given that an Ordinary Meeting of Southland District Council will be held on:

 

Date:

Time:

Meeting Room:

Venue:

 

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

9am

Council Chamber
20 Don Street
Invercargill

 

Council Agenda

OPEN

 

 

MEMBERSHIP

 

Mayor

Mayor Gary Tong

 

Deputy Mayor

Ebel Kremer

 

Councillors

Don Byars

 

 

John Douglas

 

 

Paul Duffy

 

 

Bruce Ford

 

 

Darren Frazer

 

 

George Harpur

 

 

Julie Keast

 

 

Christine Menzies

 

 

Karyn Owen

 

 

Margie Ruddenklau

 

 

Rob Scott

 

 

IN ATTENDANCE

 

Chief Executive

Cameron McIntosh

Committee Advisor

Fiona Dunlop

 

 

Contact Telephone: 0800 732 732

Postal Address: PO Box 903, Invercargill 9840

Email: emailsdc@southlanddc.govt.nz

Website: www.southlanddc.govt.nz

 

Full agendas are available on Council’s Website

www.southlanddc.govt.nz

 

 


Health and Safety – Emergency Procedures

Toilets – The toilets are located outside of the Chamber, directly down the hall on the right.

 

Evacuation – Should there be an evacuation for any reason please exit down the stairwell to the assembly point, which is the entrance to the carpark on Spey Street. Please do not use the lift.

 

Earthquake – Drop, cover and hold applies in this situation and, if necessary, once the shaking has stopped we will evacuate down the stairwell without using the lift, meeting again in the carpark on Spey Street.

 

Phones –please turn your mobile devices to silent mode.

 

Recording - These proceedings are being recorded for the purpose of live video, both live streaming and downloading.  By remaining in this meeting, you are consenting to being filmed for viewing by the public.

 

Covid QR code – Please remember to scan the Covid Tracer QR code.


Council

05 May 2021

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ITEM                                                                                                                                                                                  PAGE

Procedural

1             Apologies                                                                                                                                                                5

2             Leave of absence                                                                                                                                                5

3             Conflict of Interest                                                                                                                                             5

4             Public Forum                                                                                                                                                         5

5             Extraordinary/Urgent Items                                                                                                                        5

6             Confirmation of Council Minutes                                                                                                             5

Reports - Policy and Strategy

7.1         Long Term Plan 2021-2031 - Deliberations Report                                                                         7

7.2         Draft Alcohol Licensing Fee-Setting Bylaw Deliberations                                                    159

7.3         Draft Remission and Postponement of Rates Policy - Deliberations                             183

7.4         Submission to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment: "Supporting sustainable freedom camping in New Zealand"                                                                         205

Reports - Operational Matters

Nil

Reports - Governance

Nil  

Public Excluded

Nil

 


Council

05 May 2021

 

1             Apologies

 

At the close of the agenda no apologies had been received.

 

2             Leave of absence

 

At the close of the agenda no requests for leave of absence had been received.

 

3             Conflict of Interest

 

Councillors are reminded of the need to be vigilant to stand aside from decision-making when a conflict arises between their role as a councillor and any private or other external interest they might have.

 

4             Public Forum

 

Notification to speak is required by 12noon at least one clear day before the meeting. Further information is available on www.southlanddc.govt.nz or phoning 0800 732 732.

 

5             Extraordinary/Urgent Items

To consider, and if thought fit, to pass a resolution to permit the Council to consider any further items which do not appear on the Agenda of this meeting and/or the meeting to be held with the public excluded.

Such resolution is required to be made pursuant to Section 46A(7) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, and the Chairperson must advise:

(i)        The reason why the item was not on the Agenda, and

(ii)       The reason why the discussion of this item cannot be delayed until a subsequent meeting.

Section 46A(7A) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (as amended) states:

“Where an item is not on the agenda for a meeting,-

(a)       that item may be discussed at that meeting if-

(i)         that item is a minor matter relating to the general business of the local authority; and

(ii)       the presiding member explains at the beginning of the meeting, at a time when it is open to the public, that the item will be discussed at the meeting; but

(b)       no resolution, decision or recommendation may be made in respect of that item except to refer that item to a subsequent meeting of the local authority for further discussion.”

 

6             Confirmation of Council Minutes

There are no minutes to confirm.


Council

5 May 2021

 

Long Term Plan 2021-2031 - Deliberations Report

Record No:             R/21/3/12929

Author:                      Jason Domigan, Corporate Performance Lead

Approved by:         Trudie Hurst, Group Manager Customer Delivery

 

  Decision                                       Recommendation                                  Information

 

 

Purpose

1        This report provides an overview of the key issues raised in feedback on the consultation document for the Long Term Plan 2021-2031 (LTP) and seeks direction from Council about any changes to be included in the final LTP and supporting information.

2        The report also outlines changes recommended by staff in order to ensure that the information and budgets in the plan reflect any changes since being released for consultation. These include changes as a result of forecasting, final project costings and corrections.

Executive Summary

3        The LTP consultation document ‘It’s Time, Southland/Murihiku’ and supporting information was adopted by Council on 10 March 2021.

4        Public consultation occurred from 12 March 2021 to 14 April 2021. Council received 260 submissions, as well as informal feedback received via social media and via drop-in sessions with the community. A submission booklet and the informal feedback were presented to Council at a meeting held on 27/28 April 2021. At that meeting, 39 submitters also spoke to their submission, at a hearing.

5        This report asks Council to consider the feedback received on the LTP, and to consider a series of issues and options papers prepared by staff to assist Councillors in their decision-making.

6        Staff would like Council to make decisions about what changes, if any, are required to the final LTP and supporting information after considering community feedback and changes proposed by staff. Recommendations are made in each issue paper and these have been bought forward for confirmation in the recommendations section of this report.

7        The next steps are to make any required changes to the final LTP before it is audited and then adopted by Council on 23 June 2021.

 

Recommendation

That Council:

a)        Receives the report titled “Long Term Plan 2021-2031 - Deliberations Report” dated 30 April 2021.

 

b)        Determines that this matter or decision be recognised as significant in terms of Section 76 of the Local Government Act 2002.

 

c)         Determines that it has complied with the decision-making provisions of the Local Government Act 2002 to the extent necessary in relation to this decision; and in accordance with Section 79 of the act determines that it does not require further information, further assessment of options or further analysis of costs and benefits or advantages and disadvantages prior to making a decision on this matter.

 

d)        Considers the submissions and informal feedback received on the Long Term Plan 2031 consultation document.

 

e)         Confirms in relation to issue 1, our roads:

i.          to increase spending on sealed road rehabilitations by $1 million in the first year of the LTP, and an average of $2.5 million a year over the next 10 years

ii.         the staff actions for our roads, summarised as follows:

 

Submitter No.

(in booklet)

Topic

Action point for

86, 117, 231

continue to lobby funding partners such as Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

staff

23

look into issues raised about particular roads

staff

57, 155, 67, 53, 187, 190, 154

provide feedback received on specific roads/areas to the relevant organisation (Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency /Gore District Council/the relevant community board)

staff

 

f)          Confirms in relation to issue 2, our bridges, to increase spending on bridge replacements by $1 million, to a total of $3.5 million a year, over the next 10 years.

 

g)        Confirms in relation to issue 3, the impact on rates for 2021/2022, that Council’s preferred option (a 10.15% rate increase) remains the preferred option.

 

h)        Confirms in relation to issue 4, district and local issues, the actions summarised as follows:

 

Submitter No.

Topic

Action point for

Open spaces

31

consider the Riverton beautification request for the main street

Oraka Aparima Community Board (CB)

254

consider adding an annual grant for mowing request to the Ardlussa Community Board rate for the Riverdale Recreation Reserves Committee.

Council, staff

53

consider the Lumsden entrance beautification request

Northern CB

70

consider the request for an increase in the level of service (LoS) for mowing for Moores reserve

Oreti CB

96

consider the suggestion for a decrease in the level of service LoS for mowing and gardening

all CB’s

116

consider a request for a Monowai Village bike/pump track

Tuatapere Te Waewae CB

202

explore option for assisting to fund Te Anau pool

Fiordland CB

239

consider suggestion to prune trees in Otautau

Wallace Takitimu CB

145

consider request to increase shade and provide plantings, and to provide smoke/vape free signage, in open spaces

staff

183

consider providing less funding to Henry St playground in Te Anau, as other playgrounds take precedence  

staff

233

review mowing LoS request for Tuatapere

Tuatapere Te Waewae CB

165

consider the request for an increase in LoS for mowing for Stewart Island/Rakiura

Stewart Island/Rakiura CB

Community facilities

184

consider the Riverton toilet upgrade and changing shed request

Oraka Aparima CB

89

consider a request to rationalise the Ohai Hall

Wallace Takitimu CB

112

consider the divestment of Winton Drill Hall

Oreti CB

Environmental services

163

update name of statute in Environmental Services AMP to Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014

Staff

207

consider only having privately owned camp grounds not providing freedom camping facilities

Staff

164

consider increasing regulations for short term rental accommodation

staff

182

consider more commercial sub-division in Te Anau

Staff and Fiordland CB

Transport activity – footpaths

181

consider the eligibility requirements for the Stewart Island/Rakiura visitor levy, to ensure they allow funding for footpaths

Stewart Island/Rakiura CB and staff

Transport activity – Te Anau Airport Manapouri

183

consider whether the airport should be a District asset

Staff

Waste services

234

consider whether there should a green waste disposal site in Tuatapere

Tuatapere Te Waewae CB

252

consider changes to local waste depot, request for recycling container

Waihopai Toetoe CB

Community leadership

89, 195

consider more opportunities for staff to meet with Councillors

staff

150

for the next LTP process, consider undertaking informal polls to gauge youth sentiment

staff

151

consider providing funding for trail signage

Fiordland CB

169

consider developing strategies to assist community boards with their decision making

staff

232

liaise with Murihiku Kai Collective to ascertain how staff can provide assistance

Staff

Rates, finance and funding requests

71

consider rating approach for water supply and sewage services when ratepayer does not receive these services

Staff

237

consider rates funding request for the former court house building

Wallace Takitimu CB

 

i)          Confirms in relation to issue 5, dust suppression and other roading matters, the actions summarised as follows:

 

Submitter No.

Action

Action point for

Dust Suppression

1, 54, 73, 93, 116

to look at options to provide support to residents suffering from the impacts of dust

Council, staff

53, 99, 128, 152, 160, 170, 252

to consider the affordability, maintenance requirements, prioritisation and implementation of a programme to deliver dust suppressant seals

Council, staff

Other roading matters

63

to continue to discuss with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency the charges/taxes etc that may apply to electric vehicles

Council, staff

118

to discuss the iron bridge gravel track with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

Council, staff

132, 208, 257

to follow up with submitters where potential requests for service (RFS) have been highlighted

Staff

 

j)          Confirms in relation to issue 6, funding requests and grant structure, that Council:

 

i)          make decisions on whether to grant funding to any or all of the applications received as submissions to the Long Term Plan as outlined below:

a)           Approves/declines a grant of $50,000 to the Western Southland Trails Trust for a feasibility study on the proposed trail.

b)          Approves/declines a grant of between $30,000-$70,000 to Sport Southland for a staff member to find innovative ways of increasing physical activity in the Southland District Council area.

c)           Approves/declines a grant of between $7,275.00 ($5.00 per rateable property) and $14,550.00 ($10.00 per rateable property) to Otautau Museum and Heritage Trust from the Wallace Takitimu Community Board area, to be retained by the Board for distribution to the Trust. 

d)          Approves/declines a grant of $39,100 ($1 per resident) to the NZ Memorial Museum and Visitor Centre in Le Quesnoy, France.

e)           Approves/declines a grant of $1.25 million to the Fiordland Trails Trust for the trail to Te Anau Downs, and $250,000 for the completion of the Lake to Lake Trail. Also requesting yearly maintenance costs for the trails increasing to $22,400 a year in five years’ time. Also requesting support for an administrative role.

f)            Approves/declines a grant of $2,000 to Catlins Promotions for printing its Catlin’s Coast maps

ii)       Adopts the new grant structure to ensure all grants have to go through the District Initiatives Fund and to create contracts for services for present grants that are more work being done on behalf or for Council.

iii)      Changes the District Heritage Fund to an annual payment.

 

k)        Confirms in relation to issue 7, staff amendments, that staff prepare the Long Term Plan with all the amendments requested.

 

l)          Instructs staff to prepare the final Long Term Plan 2021-2031 and supporting documents in a way that reflects the decisions that Council has made in relation to the submissions received and staff recommendations in this report.

 

m)       Notes that submissions that relate to operational matters such as maintenance or renewal works, requests for more information, for reviews and changes to programmes or projects, have been provided to relevant staff and will be considered alongside existing work programmes and actioned as appropriate. 

 

Background

8        The consultation document titled ‘It’s Time, Southland/Murihiku’ was made available to the public from 12 March 2021 to 14 April 2021. The consultation document set out questions around issues identified for Council’s LTP. The key questions posed were about our roads, our bridges and the impact on rates. The consultation document also highlighted to the community:

·      the ongoing impact of Covid-19

·      an update on the status of the three waters reforms process

·      significance of climate change and unexpected events into the future

·      the financial and infrastructure strategies and changes to key policies.

9        Members of the public lodged their submission through the online submissions system, manually on the form enclosed with the consultation document, or by writing to or emailing Council. Council received 260 submissions. Informal feedback was also received via Council’s Facebook page and at community drop-in sessions.

10      The formal submissions and the informal feedback were presented at the Council meeting held on 27/28 April 2021. A hearing was also held at that meeting, where 39 submitters spoke to their submission.

11      The feedback received related to the questions posed over key issues identified by Council as well as other general issues.

12      Council is now being asked to consider the feedback, and to make decisions on issues and options papers prepared by staff. Staff are seeking clarity on changes that need to be made ahead of the adoption of the final LTP on 23 June 2021.

Issues

13      Councillors have received a complete booklet of all the submissions and the informal feedback received. 

14      The submissions have been analysed and inform the preparation of the issues and options papers (including recommendations) that are included as attachments to this report as follows:

·      attachment 1: our roads

·      attachment 2: our bridges

·      attachment 3: the impact on rates

·      attachment 4: district and local issues

·      attachment 5: dust suppression and other roading matters

·      attachment 6: funding requests

·      attachment 7: staff amendments

15     The issues and options papers also include summaries of the feedback received (by topic), and excerpts of feedback from submitters.

16     Councillors may identify any other issues from the submissions that they wish to discuss or consider warrants a decision or action from Council. 

17     The issues that were raised in submissions fall into five broad categories:

·        feedback on proposals outlined in the consultation document, on which staff have made a recommendation - these are discussed in the attachments.

·        funding requests and other prominent issues raised through submissions, on which staff are seeking guidance or have made recommendations - these are also discussed in the attachments.

·        matters for further consideration - these relate to submissions that have raised issues that require further investigation. Where appropriate, these will be considered as part of preparing for the Annual Plan 2022/2023. Some other requests may be considered as part of Council’s work programme going forward.

·        minor wording changes to the LTP documents.

 

Factors to Consider

Legal and Statutory Requirements

18      Local authorities are required to develop a consultation document for the purpose of consulting with the community, as well as making publicly available the information that provides the basis for the preparation of the LTP. The consultation document was prepared to meet all legislative requirements and to include sufficient information to inform the public about what is planned for the district and the key issues.

19      Under the Local Government Act 2002 (LGA), a local authority must use the special consultative procedure (SCP) in adopting a LTP. As part of the SCP, Council must provide an opportunity for people to present their views to Council. A hearing was held at the Council meeting on 27/28 April 2021, and 39 submitters spoke to their submission.

20      Before deciding on the matters raised in this report, Council may request or consider comment or advice from staff or any other person in respect of the proposal or any views on the proposal.

21      Under section 78 of the LGA, Council must, when deciding how to proceed, consider the views and preferences of persons likely to be affected by, or to have an interest in, the matter. There is not a requirement to please all of the submitters, but Council must consider the views that have been expressed.

22      When making decisions, Council should also consider whether it has sufficient information about the views and preferences of those likely to be affected by or have an interest in the matter.

23      Due to the financial constraints the Council is operating under, including the need to stay within the parameters of its Financial Strategy, staff are only recommending budget and other changes where a proposal is sufficiently robust, clearly aligns with Council’s priorities, and has significant and broad community backing. In some cases, further investigation may be required. Any changes proposed would have to comply with the requirements of SCP, and would have to be ‘on the table’ in the consultation document and supported by feedback received in submissions.

Community Views

24      The community views captured through the consultation process were summarised in the report that went to Council on 27/28 April 2021. All of the submissions received and the informal feedback received, were also included as an attachment to that report.

25      Each of the issue and options papers attached to this report also include a summary of the views expressed on that topic.

Costs and Funding

26      The financial implications of each of the options for the proposals and impact on rates were set out in the consultation document and supporting information. Additional details have been included in the issues and options papers where relevant.

Policy Implications

27      Relevant policy implications are discussed in detail in the individual appendices.

Analysis

Options Considered

28      Please refer to the attachments for a full list of the options for each issue. Advantages and disadvantages are also outlined for each option.

Assessment of Significance

29      Staff consider the decisions being made in this report to be significant in relation to Council’s Significance and Engagement Policy and the LGA.

30      The likely impact and consequences of the decisions are considered significant for the current and future social, economic, environmental or cultural wellbeing of the district.

31      A thorough process has been followed to meet the requirements of this decision making process. The consultation document and supporting information was based on numerous workshops held with Council and community boards, ensuring that there has been extensive community level input. In addition, discussions occurred with Te Ao Mārama Incorporated on behalf of local iwi. Community views have also been considered through the formal consultation process. In relation to the decision being made, Council has also taken into consideration the high significance of this matter when it has:

•     identified the reasonably practicable options

•     assessed options in terms of their advantages and disadvantages

•     considered likely costs and benefits

•     considered information (the extent and detail of information considered)

•     kept written records documenting compliance with these requirements

•     identified potential implications.

Recommended Option

32      The recommended options are outlined at the beginning of this report, and in the attachments to this report.

Next Steps

33      Following Council’s deliberations and decision-making, staff will develop the final LTP and supporting information. A draft of the final LTP and updated supporting information will be audited in late May. The full LTP will also be circulated to the Finance and Audit Committee on 15 June 2021 prior to adoption by Council on 23 June 2021.


 

Attachments

a             Issue and options paper 1 - Our roads

b             Issue and options paper 2 - Our bridges

c             Issue and options paper 3 - Impact on rates

d            Issue and options paper 4 - District and local issues

e             Issue and options paper 5 - Dust suppression and other roading matters

f             Issue and options paper 6 - Funding requests and grant structure

g            Issue and options paper 7 - Staff amendments    

 


Council

05 May 2021

 

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Council

5 May 2021

 

Draft Alcohol Licensing Fee-Setting Bylaw Deliberations

Record No:             R/21/3/14560

Author:                      Carrie Williams, Intermediate Policy Analyst

Approved by:         Fran Mikulicic, Group Manager Environmental Services

 

  Decision                                       Recommendation                                  Information

 

 

Purpose

1        The purpose of this report is to provide information and to present options to Council, so that it can make decisions on the draft Alcohol Licensing Fee-Setting Bylaw (the draft bylaw).

Executive Summary

2        On 10 March 2021 Council endorsed a draft bylaw (see Attachment A), for public consultation. On 27 April, councillors were given a copy of the 19 written submissions that were received on the proposal, and heard those submitters who wished to speak.

3        In this report, staff have presented and discussed three potential options on how Council could proceed:

•       option 1 – adopt the draft bylaw that Council endorsed for consultation, which removes the 30% discount to annual fees, increases annual, application and special fees by 10% for 2021/2022 and 2022/2023, and increase fees by 5% in years 2023/2024 to 2025/2026

•       option 2 – revoke the current bylaw, thereby increasing annual fees by 30%, the rest of fee amounts would remain as prescribed by the regulations.  Council would need to increase its rates contribution to the alcohol licensing activity from 10% to 22.5% and repay the overdrawn reserve from the district operations reserve

•       option 3 – adopt a bylaw that makes no changes to the current bylaw, maintaining the 30% discount to annual fees.  Council would need to increase its rates contribution to the alcohol licensing activity from 10% to 29% and repay the overdrawn reserve from the district operations reserve.

4        This report is seeking a decision from Council to choose its preferred approach.

5        Staff are proposing that Council adopt an Alcohol Licensing Fee-Setting Bylaw at its meeting on 23 June 2021.

 

Recommendation

That Council:

a)            Receives the report titled “Draft Alcohol Licensing Fee-Setting Bylaw Deliberations” dated 30 April 2021.

 

b)           Determines that this matter or decision be recognised as not significant in terms of Section 76 of the Local Government Act 2002.

 

c)            Determines that it has complied with the decision-making provisions of the Local Government Act 2002 to the extent necessary in relation to this decision; and in accordance with Section 79 of the act determines that it does not require further information, further assessment of options or further analysis of costs and benefits or advantages and disadvantages prior to making a decision on this matter.

 

d)           Considers the feedback received on the draft Alcohol Licensing Fee-Setting Bylaw.

 

e)            Considers the options on how it could proceed.

 

f)             Endorses one of the following options:

 

i)          Option 1 – that Council proceeds with the Alcohol Licensing Fee-Setting Bylaw that it endorsed for consultation, or

ii)         Option 2 – that Council revokes the current Alcohol Licensing Fee-Setting Bylaw, or

iii)       Option 3 – that Council proceed with an Alcohol Licensing Fee-Setting Bylaw that is the same as the current bylaw. 

 

g)           If it wishes to endorse option f)ii), increases the general rates contribution for the alcohol licensing activity from 10% to 22.5% and uses the district operations reserve to clear the overdrawn alcohol licensing reserve deficit.

 

h)           If it wishes to endorse option f)iii), increases the general rates contribution for the alcohol licensing activity from 10% to 29% and uses the district operations reserve to clear the overdrawn alcohol licensing reserve deficit.

 

i)             If Council endorses recommendation f)i) or f)iii), resolves that a new Alcohol Licensing Fee-Setting Bylaw will come into effect and supersede the existing Alcohol Licensing Fee-Setting Bylaw 2015 on 1 July 2021.

 

j)             Acknowledges the draft Alcohol Licensing Fee-Setting Bylaw states that it will be reviewed within five years of adoption.

 


 

Background

Current bylaw

6        The purpose of the current bylaw is to set the amount of the annual fees that are charged to alcohol licence holders in the district.  The current bylaw (Attachment B) provides a discount of 30% to the annual fee amount outlined in the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Fees) Regulations 2013 (the regulations).

7        The discount was provided when this bylaw was last reviewed in 2015, in response to concerns raised by the hospitality industry that did not support the fee amounts in the regulations.  At that time, there was a positive reserve that could be used to fund a portion of the shortfall of the costs of the alcohol licensing activity.  The 2015 report to Council stated that the 30% discount was feasible for three years.

Reserves deficit

8        The income currently generated through alcohol fees is not meeting the annual costs for this alcohol licensing business unit.  In addition, there is a negative reserves balance.    

9        As at 30 June 2020, the alcohol licensing reserve was $84,000 overdrawn.  It is expected that the overdrawn reserve will increase to around $170,000 at 30 June 2021.  The key reasons for the increased deficit are:

·    $75,000 due to the loss of revenue from licensing due to Covid-19 over the last two years.  This is due to:-

o less businesses changing hands and therefore less new applications being required;

o a limited number of functions being held which in turn reduced the number of special licences being applied for; and

o the budgeted income anticipating the 30% discount to annual fees would be withdrawn which never occurred because of the impact of Covid-19

·    $14,000 legal costs above budgeted amounts were incurred as a result of a customer challenging a licensing decision  

·    $80,000 that should have come from a rates funded cost centre that were incorrectly allocated to the alcohol cost centre. 

10      Based on this information, Council needs to consider if it is appropriate for licensees to fund the total reserve, a portion or none at all.  Any amount not funded from licensees needs to be funded from Council reserves or general rates.

 


 

Proposed changes

11      The draft bylaw proposes to remove the 30% discount to annual fees.  Alongside this, an increase of 10% to the amount in the regulations is proposed for annual fees, special licence fees and application fees for 2021 and 2022.  In addition, accumulative 5% annual increases in each of these three fee categories are proposed until the bylaw is next due for review in 2026.  The proposed changes are illustrated in the table below.

Table 1: Proposed annual percentage increases to alcohol fees

Fee type

21/22

22/23

23/24

24/25

25/26

Annual fees

Revoke 30% discount and add 10%

to regulation base fee

+ 10%

+ 5%

+ 5%

+ 5%

Application fees

+ 10%

to regulation base fee

+ 10%

+ 5%

+ 5%

+ 5%

Special licence fees

+ 10%

to regulation base fee

+ 10%

+ 5%

+ 5%

+ 5%

Annual % increase is based on previous years fee

12      It is intended that fees payable for manager’s certificates, temporary authority and temporary licences continue to be set by the regulations for new or renewed certificates, noting that councils are not able to vary the manager’s certificate fee amount provided for by the regulations.

13      The reason for the fee increase is to recover costs of operating the alcohol licensing business unit and to repay the negative reserve balance over the ten years of the Long Term Plan 2031 (LTP).

14      Council consulted on the draft bylaw from 12 to 26 March 2021.  There were 19 submissions on the draft bylaw.  A full summary of submissions received was provided in the 27 April 2021 report to Council.  Council heard those wishing to speak to their submission at the 27 April 2021 Council meeting.

Summary of feedback

15      Submitters were largely against the changes proposed in the draft bylaw.  In addition, 84% of those that provided feedback preferred the status quo (retaining the 30% discount to annual fees in the current bylaw). 

16      Submitters commented that they are opposed to increasing alcohol licensing fees at this time, due to the ongoing effects of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry.

17      Feedback was also received that Council should find other ways to realise cost savings for this business unit, rather than increasing fees. 

18      There were some comments that Council should be supporting alcohol license holders, as these establishments provide places for people to meet and socialise especially in rural communities.

19      A more detailed synopsis of this information may be found in the submissions and hearings report that was presented to Council at its 27 April meeting.  The full submissions booklet is also attached to that report. 


 

Efficiencies in the alcohol licensing business unit

20      The alcohol licensing business unit is considered to be efficient, given that it has operated for the past five years as the only Council in New Zealand that has discounted fee amounts.

21      The alcohol licensing team is expecting to implement a number of improvements in 2022 and 2023.  Council’s Quality Assurance Lead Officer will be basing herself in the alcohol team in late May 2021 for an extended period, after focussing on Building Solutions for over a year. Priority improvements include the implementation of online applications (and possibly registered user functionality in the short term), and then reviewing processing with a view to making our internal processes more efficient.  Other items for continuous improvement consideration include Business Connect, process mapping and data capture.  No new staff are considered to be required in the team at this time.

22      It is difficult to predict the dollar amount in cost savings of these efficiencies at this stage.  By way of example, the introduction of online applications in other business units at Council has not had an immediate reduction in costs. However, this change does result in an improved customer experience.

Transparency of costs in the alcohol licensing business unit

23      In the 10 March 2021 report to Council, staff provided a breakdown of the actual costs for the years ending 30 June 2019 and 2020, for the alcohol licensing business unit.  Submitters questioned the large increase in internal expenses between these two years.  This highlighted the wages that were incorrectly allocated to the alcohol cost centre rather than coming from the appropriate rates funded cost centre.  This has been corrected in the Long Term Plan budgets, which is shown in Attachment C.

24      Submitters provided feedback that it is not clear what they are paying for in the licensing fees. Almost all of the expense codes in the budget are utilised in every application.  By way of example, a new manager’s application involves:

•     inspector time in preparation, interview and report and any other investigatory work

•     time spent by the coordinator in receiving, processing, and issuing the certificate

•     training of these staff and their technical resources

•     internal support costs (computers, financial services, office space, photocopying, record keeping)

•     managerial costs.

25      Overall these statutory functions are running lean, and are undertaken by only two full time positions with a small allowance for managerial oversight. Any changes in staffing have contributed to some time delays over the years as recruitment and training occur. 

26      It is an option that commentary is added to the alcohol licensing section of Council’s website to explain this itemisation.

Issues

27      In this report, three options have been presented on how Council could elect to proceed.  The advantages and disadvantages of these options are discussed in the ‘analysis of options’ section of this report.

28      The issues for Council to deliberate are based on the implications of each option.

29      A summary of the three options being presented to Council are illustrated in the table below. The financial implications of options 2 and 3 are discussed in detail below.

Table 2 – summary of options presented to Council

Option

Action by Council

Implications for fees

Option 1

Adopt draft bylaw that Council endorsed for consultation

Fee increases as outlined in paragraph 11

Option 2

Revoke current bylaw

All fees as provided in regulations (removes the current 30% discount to annual fees)

Option 3

Status quo

30% discount to annual fees, all other fees as provided in the regulations

 

Implications of option 1 – adopt the draft bylaw Council endorsed for consultation

30      The dollar value implications of adopting the draft bylaw on license holders is illustrated in the table below, to show the actual increased amount that would be paid, if the draft bylaw were adopted. 

31      The fee categories for annual and application fees range from very low to very high, according to the cost/risk rating of premises, provided in the regulations. The cost/risk rating is assessed using a number of factors in the regulations and includes the type of premises, trading hours and previous enforcements of the regulations.  80% of the annual fees paid in 2020 were in the low or medium category.  76% of the application fees paid in 2020 to Council were also in the low or medium category.  Special licences range from class 3 (small, one off events), to class 1 (a large event, more than three medium events or more than 12 small events).  93% of the special license fees paid in 2020 were class 2 or 3.


 

Table 3 – Approximate dollar amount increases proposed in draft bylaw 

 

2020-21

2021-22

2022-23

2023-24

2024-25

2025-26

Current fee

Regs +10%

+10%

+5%

Annual fees (80% of these fees paid in 2020 were low or medium)

Very low

$113

+$64

+$18

+$10

+$10

+$11

Low

$274

+$156

+$43

+$24

+$24

+$26

Medium

$443

+$253

+$69

+$39

+$40

+$42

High

$743

+$396

+$113

+$63

+$66

+$69

Special licences (93% of these fees paid in 2020 were class 2 or 3

Class 3

$63

+$7

+$7

+$3

+$4

+$5

Class 2

$207

+$21

+$22

+$13

+$13

+$14

Class 1

$575

+$58

+$63

+$35

+$36

+$38

Application fees (76% of these fees paid in 2002 were low or medium)

Low

$610

+$60

+$67

+$37

+$39

+$41

Medium

$817

+$81

+$90

+$49

+$52

+$55

High

$1,024

+$102

+$112

+$62

+$65

+$69

 

32      Option 1 allows for the costs of the alcohol licensing business unit to be recovered and the total negative reserve for the alcohol licensing business unit to be repaid by 2029. 

33      26% of submitters agreed with the draft bylaw, and 74% did not. Three submitters supported option one (the draft bylaw that went out for consultation), while 16 submitters preferred the current bylaw.

34      Submission number 16 discusses the fee increase amounts, and disagreed that there is a current 30% discount to annual fees.  The reason for the confusion in this regard is that the current and draft bylaw fee amounts have all been calculated including GST.  In contrast, the amounts provided in the regulations are GST exclusive.  As a result of this feedback, the draft bylaw has been amended to add wording to clarify that all figures include GST.


 

Implications of option 2 - revoke the current bylaw, thereby reverting all alcohol fees to the amounts in the regulations

35      If Council selected this option, it would mean that all fees would remain at the current amounts, except for annual fees, which would increase by 30%, to the amount provided in the regulations.

36      Table 3 below shows the actual increase in amounts that would be paid for annual fees, if option 2 were selected.

Table 4: Dollar amount increases for option 2

 

Current fee
(2020-21)

Regulation fee amount
(2021-22 through to 2025-26)

Annual fees (80% of these fees paid to Council in 2020 were in the low or medium category)

Very low

$113

+$30

Low

$274

+$117

Medium

$443

+$190

High

$743

+$292

 

37      This option results in the alcohol licensing reserve being overdrawn by $513,083 by 2031.

38      If it selected this option, Council could increase the general rates contribution from the current 10% to meet the operational costs of the alcohol licensing business unit.  An annual rate contribution increase of 22.5% would be required.  This equates to a $28,000 increase in 2021-2022. 

39      Council could use a general reserve such as the district operations reserve to clear the current overdrawn reserve of $170,000. 

40      The balance of the district operations reserve as at 30 June 2021 is projected to be overdrawn by $150,000.  As this is also the balancing reserve for many district business units, the actual balance of the reserve at year end may vary depending on the level of underspends.

41      No submitters supported option two, to revoke the current bylaw and revert all alcohol fees to the amounts in the regulations. 

Implications of option 3 - adopt an Alcohol Licensing Fee-Setting Bylaw that is the same as the current bylaw, maintaining the 30% discount for annual fees


 

42      Option 3 entails fee amounts remaining the same as the current bylaw, illustrated in the table below.

Table 5 – Dollar amounts for annual fees for option 3

 

Current fee
(2020-21)

Regulation fee less 30%
(2021-22 through to 2025-26)

Annual fees (80% of these fees paid to Council in 2020 were in the low or medium category)

Very low

$113

$113

Low

$274

$274

Medium

$443

$443

High

$743

$743

 

43      Option 3 results in the alcohol licensing reserve being overdrawn by $665,597, by 2031.

44      If Council selected this option, it could increase its rates contribution from 10% to 29% in order to fund the operational costs of the alcohol licensing business unit.  This equates to a $43,000 increase in 2021-2022. 

45      Additionally, Council could use a general reserve such as the district operations reserve to clear the current overdrawn reserve of $170,000. 

46      The balance of the district operations reserve as at 30 June 2021 is projected to be overdrawn by $150,000.  As this is also the balancing reserve for many district business units, the actual balance of the reserve at year end may vary depending on the level of underspends.

47      The majority of submitters supported this option.  

Council’s financial obligations

48      Council must consider whether increasing the rates contributions for the alcohol licensing business unit, and funding the deficit from reserves, is consistent with its financial obligations under the Local Government Act 2002 (LGA) and its Revenue and Financing Policy. 

49      Under the balanced budget requirement in the LGA, Council must ensure that each year’s projected operating revenues are set at a level sufficient to meet that year’s projected operating expenses (s.100(1)).  It should be noted that 2021-22 financial year budgets have been drafted based on a 10% rates contribution for the alcohol licensing activity.

50      Council must also show for its sources of funding how it has complied with s.101(3) of the LGA. This section requires Council to meet its funding needs for each activity following consideration of factors such as who is benefitting, the period over which any benefit will occur, and whether the actions of a particular group contribute towards a need to undertake the activity. 


 

Applying Council’s financial obligations to increasing the rates contribution

51      Under the current Revenue and Financing Policy, the environmental services activity (which includes the alcohol licensing sub activity) general rates funding can be 33-66%, fees and charges 33-66% and other sources up to 33%.  Increasing the general rates funding for the alcohol licensing sub activity to 22.5% or 29% still complies with the ranges in the Revenue and Financing Policy.

52      It is appropriate to apply Council’s financial obligations to the options of increasing the general rates contribution from 10% to 22.5% or 29% for the alcohol licensing business unit.

53      The first step is to evaluate the public good of alcohol licensing and consider whether there are aspects of the alcohol licensing activity indicating that the rates contribution should be greater than 10%. 

54      Assessing the public good includes looking at the community outcomes the alcohol licensing activity primarily contributes to.  Council heard from submitters who feel that alcohol licensed premises play a role in the community as meeting and socialising places, and should be supported by Council. 

55      The second step is to assess the overall impact of any allocation of liability for revenue needs on the community, and to consider if any changes are needed.  This is in line with the Revenue and Financing Policy and s.101(3)(b) of the LGA.  Such considerations include:

·    affordability: balancing the affordability of increasing the rates contribution for the community against the affordability of the proposed alcohol fee increases for license holders

·    fair treatment of different sectors: is it fair to increase the rates contribution for the alcohol licensing business unit, as compared to other business units within Council

·    alignment with Council’s objectives and financial strategy: Council has previously determined that this business unit should be largely self-funding.

56      Council has previously decided that a 10% rates contribution is appropriate, but it may modify this in response to feedback received from the community.  It is acknowledged that 10% is lower when compared to other councils.  As discussed above, Council’s Revenue and Financing Policy permits this percentage to be increased, while still staying within the policy’s ranges.   

Applying Council’s financial obligations to funding the deficit from district operations reserves

57      Council’s funding obligations are also applicable if it chose to fund the deficit for the alcohol licensing business unit from the district operations reserve.  Financial prudence is a key area for Council.  When applied to local government, this means maintaining a balanced budget, where every day needs meet every day costs.  It is generally not considered financially prudent to fund operational costs, such as the deficit for the alcohol licensing activity, from reserves.  This is because over the long term, funding operational costs in this manner is not sustainable.


 

Discussion

58      Council must consider whether to increase alcohol licensing fees, or to increase the rates contribution for this activity, which would have the flow on effect of increasing rates for everyone in the district.

59      If alcohol licensing fees are not increased, then the unfunded “private benefit” portion of the cost will have to be collected in rates.  It is recognised that alcohol license holders would have to pay more if Council adopts the draft bylaw, but on balancing of all the factors discussed above, staff consider this option as preferable to funding this business unit through rates.

60      Whilst increased fees will undoubtedly be challenging in a time of uncertainty, staff support adoption of the draft bylaw, because it considers that the fairest approach is to recover costs by ensuring those who benefit from the service principally fund them.

61      Council has the discretion to choose to increase the rates contribution and fund the deficit from the district operations reserve, in response to the feedback received to the consultation process, in order to help reduce the impacts of Covid-19 on alcohol licence holders.

Factors to Consider

Legal and Statutory Requirements

62      Alcohol licensing fees are set by central government, in the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Fees) Regulations 2013.

63      Section 405 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 (SSAA) enables councils to set their own fees for alcohol licensing, by bylaw.

64      Section 11 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Fee-setting Bylaws) Order 2013 gives Council the authority to prescribe the fees payable to it in this regard, through a bylaw.  The proviso to this authority, is that this must be done in the context of the fee’s framework provided in the regulations.

65      Consultation on the draft bylaw followed the requirements of s.405 of the SSAA, which requires Council to consult with stakeholders that are representative of interests likely to be substantially affected by the bylaw.

66      The funding principles that apply to the options available to Council have been discussed above in the issues section of this report.  These include the LGA s.100 requirement that Council ensure that each year’s projected operating revenues are set at a level sufficient to meet that year’s projected operating expenses.  In addition, Council must also show for its sources of funding how it has complied with s.101(3) of the LGA. This section requires Council to meet its funding needs for each activity following consideration of factors such as who is benefitting, the period over which any benefit will occur, and whether the actions of a particular group contribute towards to need to undertake the activity.

Community Views

67      The community views captured through the consultation process on the draft bylaw were outlined in the report that went to Council on 27 April 2021. The full booklet of the feedback received through the formal consultation process was also included as an attachment to that report.

68      Submitters were generally opposed to the draft bylaw due to the effect that an increase in alcohol licensing fees would have on businesses.  There was no support for option two (removing the 30% discount and revoking the bylaw).  Three submitters supported the draft bylaw.

Costs and Funding

69      Costs associated with staff time, advertising, travel and legal advice to review this bylaw will be met within current budgets.

70      As discussed above, option 1 is the only scenario whereby the reserves deficit is removed, by 2029.  Options 2 and 3 result in the reserve being overdrawn by $513,083 and $665,597 respectively, by 2031.

71      Alcohol licensing costs will increase for license holders by the amounts outlined in table 2, if option 1 is selected.  There would be a 30% increase from the current bylaw if option 2 were selected, to the amounts shown in table 3.  There would be no changes in the cost of fees for license holders if Council chose option 3.

72      Should Council wish to increase its rates contribution, the Long Term Plan budgets will need to be updated.  Currently the rates contribution in year one is $22,397 which represents 10%.  Should the contribution increase to 20% for example, a further $22,397 will need to be added to rates, this represents 0.4% in the rates increase.

Policy Implications

73      If the draft bylaw is adopted (option 1), there are policy implications for Council as well as for licensees in the district. 

74      For Council, the policy implication of option 1 is that it will allow Council to remove the reserves deficit and ensure this business unit is self-funding by 2029. 

75      For licensees, option 1 will involve increasing alcohol licensing fees at a time when this sector is recovering from the effects of Covid-19 in 2020, as well as adjusting to ongoing changes to alert levels.  

76      If option 2 or 3 are adopted, there are policy implications for Council. These options move away from a user pays approach to the alcohol licensing business unit, which has been supported by Council previously.

77      Increasing the rates contribution and using reserves to fund the deficit for the alcohol licensing business unit is not considered to align with Council’s financial obligations, as discussed in the issues section of this report.  It also raises the issue of whether doing so treats all business units within Council consistently.

Analysis

Options Considered

78      The following reasonably practicable options have been identified:

•      option 1 – proceed with the draft bylaw that Council endorsed for consultation which removes the 30% discount to annual fees, increases fees by 10% (annual, application and special) for 2021/2022 and 2022/2023, and increases fees by 5% in years 2023/24 to 2025/2026

•      option 2 revoke the current bylaw, thereby increasing annual fees by 30%, the rest of fee amounts would remain as prescribed by the regulations.  Council will need to increase its rates contribution to this activity from 10% to 22.5% and repay the overdrawn alcohol licensing reserve from the district operations reserve

•      option 3 – proceed with a bylaw that makes no changes to the current bylaw.  Council will need to increase its rates contribution to this activity from 10% to 29% and repay the overdrawn alcohol licensing reserve from the district operations reserve.

 

Analysis of Options

Option 1 – that Council proceed with the draft bylaw that Council endorsed for consultation.

Advantages

Disadvantages

·        enables full cost recovery and repayment of the negative reserve over nine years 

·        reflects Council’s intention that this business unit is 90% self-funding (user pays) through fees generated.

·        consistent treatment of business units within Council

·        meets LGA balanced budget requirements

·        this option was not supported by submitters due to the impact of increasing fees on businesses during the Covid-19 related economic downturn

 

 

Option 2 – that Council revokes the current bylaw. Council increases the rates contribution to 22.5% and repays the alcohol licensing reserves deficit from the district operations reserve.

Advantages

Disadvantages

·        cost increase to license holders would be moderate, as only annual fees would increase by 30%

·        increasing the rates contribution is more consistent with the majority of Councils across New Zealand

·             would result in an increasing overdrawn reserve

·             this option was not supported by submitters

·             Council will need to increase its rates contribution to this activity from 10% to 22.5% and repay the overdrawn reserve from another reserve

·             does not reflect Council’s intention that this business unit is 90% self-funding through fees generated

·             may mean that business units within Council are not treated consistently

·             does not meet LGA balanced budget requirements

 

Option 3 – that Council proceed with a bylaw that makes no changes to the current bylaw. Council increases the rates contribution to 29% and repays the alcohol licensing reserves deficit from the district operations reserve.

Advantages

Disadvantages

·        no changes to the fees charged to license holders

·        submitters largely supported this option

·      would result in an increasing overdrawn reserve

·      Council will need to increase its rates contribution to this activity from 10% to 29% and repay the overdrawn reserve from another reserve.

·      does not reflect Council’s intention that this business unit is 90% self-funding through fees generated

·        may mean that business units within Council are not treated consistently

·      does not meet LGA balanced budget requirements

 

Assessment of Significance

79      Staff have assessed that deliberation and adoption of this bylaw as not being significant in accordance with the LGA and Council’s Significance and Engagement Policy.  It is recognised that licence holders are affected by this issue, but the bylaw has minimal impact to the district as a whole. In addition, this decision has a low level of impact on the current and future wellbeing of the district and the capacity for Council to perform its role.   

Recommended Option

80      It is recommended that Council proceed with option 1, the draft bylaw that went out for consultation.

Next Steps

81      If Council proceeds with option 1, staff will present the draft bylaw to Council for adoption at its 23 June 2021 meeting.  

82      If Council proceeds with option 2 and revokes the current bylaw, staff would give public notice of the revocation. Staff would also send letters to people who submitted, informing them of the final outcome.

83      If Council proceeds with option 3, staff will present a draft bylaw to Council for adoption at is 23 June 2021 meeting.

84      This bylaw is due for review within five years of it being adopted, so if option 1 or 3 is selected, a subsequent review will need to be completed in 2026.

85      If Council proposes a different way forward, staff will outline next steps in line with the approach taken.

Attachments

a             Draft Alcohol Licensing Fee-Setting Bylaw - endorsed by Council for consultation

b             Current bylaw -  Alcohol Fee-Licensing Bylaw 2015

c             Alcohol licensing business unit actuals and budget    

 


Council

05 May 2021

 

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05 May 2021

 

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05 May 2021

 

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Council

5 May 2021

 

Draft Remission and Postponement of Rates Policy - Deliberations

Record No:             R/21/4/19921

Author:                      Nicole Taylor, Finance Development Co-ordinator

Approved by:         Anne Robson, Chief Financial Officer

 

  Decision                                       Recommendation                                  Information

 

 

Purpose

1        The purpose of this report is to deliberate on the draft Remission and Postponement of Rates Policy.

Executive Summary

2        On 10 March 2021, Council endorsed a draft policy for public consultation. A copy of the draft policy is included with this report as Attachment A. The current policy can also be found in the 10 March 2021 agenda. Submissions were accepted between 8am on 12 March to 5pm on 14 April 2021.

3        On 28 April 2021, Council received the one submission on the draft policy. In summary, the submitter was opposed to most of the changes proposed in the draft policy on the basis that it is unfair to ask other ratepayers to make up for the loss in rates income resulting from the remission and postponement provisions.  They did support the ability to write-off small balances which are uneconomical to collect.

4        Additionally, Council has heard from ratepayers as part of the submissions received on the Long Term Plan about the impact of COVID-19 and the affordability of rates on some sectors and areas.  The draft policy allows for Council to provide rates remission for significant extraordinary circumstances including pandemics.  It also includes provision for rates remission or postponement for financial hardship where the ratepayer has limited financial capacity and owns the home personally.

5        Although Council considered and decided against providing a general fund for additional rates remission support for low income households within the draft policy, given the submissions Council may wish to re-visit this option.  This is discussed further in the issues section.

6        Staff are seeking direction from Council on any changes it wishes to make to the draft policy.  Any direction given will then be incorporated into the draft policy that will be presented to Council in due course. 

 

Recommendation

That Council:

a)            Receives the report titled “Draft Remission and Postponement of Rates Policy - Deliberations” dated 30 April 2021.

 

b)           Determines that this matter or decision be recognised as not significant in terms of Section 76 of the Local Government Act 2002.

 

c)            Determines that it has complied with the decision-making provisions of the Local Government Act 2002 to the extent necessary in relation to this decision; and in accordance with Section 79 of the act determines that it does not require further information, further assessment of options or further analysis of costs and benefits or advantages and disadvantages prior to making a decision on this matter.

 

d)           Agrees to consider the submission feedback received

 

e)            Agrees to request staff to prepare and present the draft Remission and Postponement of Rates Policy to Council incorporating any amendments agreed at this meeting.

 

Background

7        The Remission and Postponement of Rates Policy specifies the circumstances where Council will consider remitting or postponing rates. A remission is where Council reduces the amount of rates to be paid and a postponement is where Council delays the payment of rates.

8        Council may remit and postpone rates on any property, in any amount, and for any reason as long as this is provided for in the Council’s policy. The Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM) have noted that remissions are typically used to:

·    simplify the administration of the rating system – e.g. remitting uneconomic rates balances

·    aid groups deemed to be ‘worthy causes’ such as sporting and cultural groups.

·    manage the unintended or undesirable effects of the provisions in the Rating Act around owner liability for rates, or manage sudden shifts in the incidence of rates and

·    allow some discretion to rate appropriately when the unexpected happens (for example with land that has been affected by a natural calamity).

9        In terms of postponement provisions, SOLGM have noted that these are used mainly in the case of hardship or where there is some economic or environmental objective in mind.


 

10      The Council’s draft policy was reviewed to ensure that it is fit for purpose and is aligned with Council’s LTP 2031 and other funding and financial policies. The draft policy included a number of additional clauses to:

·    provide remissions for significant extraordinary circumstances (such as earthquakes, floods, pandemics) as determined by Council resolution

·    cover remission of small balances which are uneconomical to collect

·    provide additional flexibility to remit rate penalties to encourage ratepayers to bring their accounts up to date.

11      Other changes proposed included:

·    removing reference to the 50% remissions for community facilities owned by persons, general clubs, societies or associations which are already provided for under the Local Government Rating Act

·    expanding remission for community facilities owned by persons, general clubs, societies or associations to include facilities used for “community service” and “healthcare”

·    clarifying that community facilities will be excluded from receiving a remission if they receive “operational” funding from government or associated agencies (not capital funding).

·    including additional criteria in provisions for remission/postponement for extreme financial hardship to clarify the ratepayer’s circumstances.

12      In developing the draft policy, Council did consider a number of other matters which were discussed but which were not included in the draft policy. These included:

·    extending certain remission policies to cover tenants or lessees who have responsibility for paying rates but whom are not the property owner.

·    providing a specific remission for the wastewater rate for non-residential rating units that have multiple pan charges in circumstances where the property is not fully utilised for extended periods of time.

·    providing a remission for low income households that would work in conjunction with the government rates rebate.

Issues

13      Council only had one formal submission on the draft policy.  That submitter was against other ratepayers picking up the cost of lost rates. 

14      Council also heard from submitters as part of the Long Term Plan submission process around the impact that COVID-19 was having on them financially and also from a number of submitters concerned for themselves and others who were on fixed low incomes, principally those on benefits and the elderly and families on low incomes who were struggling to meet current commitments before the potential rate increase.


 

COVID-19

15      Council encouraged ratepayers last year to contact Council and work through options in regards to rate payments.  It recognised that the circumstance for each ratepayer is different and it wanted to recognise this and work with ratepayer.  A small number of ratepayers contacted Council and staff have worked with them to manage rates commitments.  This option continues to exist for ratepayers.

16      Additionally as part of reviewing the remission and postponement of rates policy, Council incorporated a remission clause to allow for significant extraordinary circumstances (such as earthquakes, floods, pandemics) as determined by Council resolution.  As part of the resolution Council needs to outline the event covered, how the event is expected to impact the community, who will be affected, what will be remitted and the timeframe for the remission.

Affordability

17      As background information, approximately 82% of residential rates are fixed charges for activities such as water, wastewater, rubbish, community board rates as well as a portion of the roading and district rate. This means that irrespective of your income or ability to pay, everyone pays the same

18      As part of the initial discussion with Council over a possible hardship remission pool, it was noted that Council does not have the information that Central Government organisations do around personal incomes and situations, as such it is more appropriate that these organisations provide the advice and support needed.  As such no other remission sections were included.

19      The Government provides the rate rebate scheme which allows ratepayers who live in their own home to apply for up to $640 to offset their rates, depending on their income and the level of rates they pay.  The maximum rebate has increased slowly over time but is not reflective of most rate increases for example in 2015 the maximum rebate was $610, thereby increasing $30 in the last five years. 

20      A number of submissions and submitters to the Long Term Plan, talked about the financial impact of the proposed rate increases on them, those with low fixed incomes, particularly the elderly and those receiving Government benefits as well as low income families.  In Tuatapere, residents noted that their increase was 18% on last year resulting in a rates increase of approx. $480 a year.  Many of the submitters who spoke around financial hardship, noted that they received the government rate rebate already.

21      The current and draft remission and postponement of rates policy includes the ability of those who experience hardship and live in their own home and have no other significant income or assets to be able to apply for the postponement of their rates.  This does not write the rates off but delays the income available to Council. Staff are delegated to assess this, no postponements have been undertaken in recent times.

22      The draft policy also allows for individual application for remission of rates for extreme financial hardship where the property is personally owned and occupied by the ratepayer applying and the ratepayer has taken all necessary steps to claim appropriate benefits and they have no other assets or income.  Staff are delegated to assess this and there exists at this time no budget to meet any remitted rates. No remissions for this reason have been applied for in recent times.

23      As noted previously, some Councils across New Zealand, offer further assistance for low income ratepayers in addition to the support offered by the Government by way of a pool fund.  Although Council considered and decided against including any additional assistance in the draft policy, Council may wish to re-visit this option given the level of submissions around affordability.   

24      How any further assistance would be given, would need to be worked through further with Council, but as an example one Council allows a total fixed sum in their budgets, sets the criteria then applies a first in, first served basis up to the maximum of the amount budgeted.  As this is a remission, it will mean that other ratepayers fund the rates remitted, as noted by the one submitter to this policy.  To understand the potential rating impact, for every $100 thousand of remission rates would increase approximately 0.2%. The creation of a pool may give greater transparency to any financial hardship applications.

Factors to Consider

Legal and Statutory Requirements

25      Section 85 and 86 of the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 (LGRA) enables Council to remit or postpone all or part of the rates on a rating unit as long as Council has adopted a Rates Remission Policy and/or Rates Postponement Policy under section 109 and 110 of the Local Government Act 2002.

26      The policy must state the conditions and criteria for each remission and postponement category.

27      Council has a substantial amount of discretion to grant a remission or postponement of all or part of a ratepayer’s rates under the LGRA. The draft policy complies with the requirements of the Act.

28      Consultation on the draft policy followed the requirements of s.82 and s.82A of the LGA with the draft policy and relevant information publicly available and encouraged people to give feedback on Council’s ‘make it stick’ platform, by:

-     placing an advertisement in the Ensign and Southland Express

-     promoting consultation on Council’s Facebook page

-     having the draft policy accessible on Council’s website and at all of its offices

-     encouraging community boards to make a submission.

Community Views

29      Under Section 78 of the LGA, Council must, when deciding how to proceed, consider the views and preferences of persons likely to be affected by, or to have an interest in, the matter. There is not a requirement to agree with the submitters, but Council must consider the views that have been expressed, with an open mind.

30      The only submitter, disagreeing with the proposed changes to the policy (particularly in relation to significant extraordinary circumstances) was that it was unfair to ask other ratepayers to pick up the loss of rates income as well as concerns about who will decide who is affected by an event and to what degree. They suggested instead that Council should make exceptions on a case by case basis.  The submitter also commented that all penalties should be removed and suggested that Council use other tools like posting reminders, phoning ratepayers and using debt collectors if needed. They noted that ratepayer’s money should be spent wisely in order to keep rates down

31      In addition to consulting on the draft policy, Council has also received a number of submissions on its Long Term Plan (LTP) 2031 consultation document which included an issue around the level of rates increases. While these submissions are subject to a separate report, a number of points raised by LTP submitters about rates affordability and rates on low income households   that could also be dealt with by providing rate remissions for such circumstances. This is an option that Council may want to consider as part of the deliberations on the submissions received to the draft policy and LTP before these are prepared for adoption.

Costs and Funding

32      The draft policy as consulted on is not expected to have a significant impact on costs and funding over and above what is included in current budgets. For the 2020/2021 financial year, the value of remitted rates was around $483,000 (including GST) across 527 rateable properties. This represents 0.84% of the total rates struck for the year ($57.3 million incl GST) on 2.8% of the total number of rateable properties (19,122). There has been little change in these figures since 2017. No postponement of rates have been requested for a number of years.

33      As noted above in the issues section should Council wish to explore further a low income remission for ratepayers this will increase the rates required unless other cost reductions are identified.

Policy Implications

34      If the draft policy is supported as presented, Council will be able to respond to significant extraordinary circumstances (such as a flood, pandemic, earthquake) when they occur by considering remitting/postponing rates on affected properties.

35      The draft policy also provides greater scope for penalty remission to encourage/incentivise full payment of rates.

36      As outlined earlier, a number of submissions to the LTP 2031 consultation document also related to rates increases. In deliberating on the feedback raised by these submitters, Council may also want to consider whether there is an opportunity through the draft policy to include additional provisions to address these concerns (e.g. providing rates remissions related to rates affordability for low income households) or other associated feedback. Depending on the nature of any changes considered, this may extend the process related to the draft policy review.

Analysis

Assessment of Significance

37      Staff have assessed the deliberation as not being significant in accordance with Council’s Significance and Engagement Policy because we are hearing the views of the community.

38      The inclusion of any pool fund as a result of this report is not seen as a significant change as its purpose is to provide greater transparency to the application of monies for financial hardship.

Recommended Option

39      Staff recommend Council proceed with the only practical option available to it - to deliberate and provide feedback to staff, including any amendments required on the draft Remission and Postponement of Rates Policy. The advantages of this option are that Council can consider community views on this matter, and comply with s.82 consultation requirements in the LGA. There are no known disadvantages of this option.

Next Steps

40      After deliberating on the submissions received for the draft policy and the LTP consultation document, Council will identify what amendments, if any, may be required to the draft policy.

41      Council staff will then work to incorporate the feedback, if any, into the draft policy and present it to Council in due course.

42      Council staff will then contact submitters and publicly notify that a new policy has been adopted.

43      There is a requirement to review this policy within six years of being adopted, so if the draft policy is adopted in May 2021, a subsequent review will need to be completed by 2027.

 

Attachments

a             Draft Rate Remission and Postponement Policy     


Council

05 May 2021

 

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Council

5 May 2021

 

Submission to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment: "Supporting sustainable freedom camping in New Zealand"

Record No:             R/21/4/16893

Author:                      Michael Sarfaiti, Environmental Health Manager

Approved by:         Fran Mikulicic, Group Manager Environmental Services

 

  Decision                                       Recommendation                                 Information

 

 

Purpose

1        This report presents a draft submission for Council’s consideration. Submissions are due to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) by 16 May 2021.

Executive Summary

2        The Government is consulting on how to make freedom camping in New Zealand more sustainable. The draft submission in this report is presented for Council’s consideration.

 

Recommendation

That the Council:

a)            Receives the report titled “Submission to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment: "Supporting sustainable freedom camping in New Zealand"” dated 29 April 2021.

 

b)           Determines that this matter or decision be recognised as not significant in terms of Section 76 of the Local Government Act 2002.

 

c)            Determines that it has complied with the decision-making provisions of the Local Government Act 2002 to the extent necessary in relation to this decision; and in accordance with Section 79 of the act determines that it does not require further information, further assessment of options or further analysis of costs and benefits or advantages and disadvantages prior to making a decision on this matter.

 

d)           Agrees to authorise that the Manager of Environmental Health forward the submission (attachment A of the report), with any amendments agreed by the meeting.

 

Background

3        Council’s Freedom Camping Bylaw has the following characteristics:

·        Local rules were developed in consultation with each Community Board and Community Development Area Subcommittees (of the time).  This is why some parts of the District are prohibitive, others permissive. The Council at the time was not seeking a one-rule-for-all approach.

·        The Bylaw has a series of maps that define these rules (mostly townships), along with some District wide rules in Schedule 1 of the Bylaw.  The default rule in the District is that freedom camping is permitted, except where it is restricted or prohibited as advised in the maps or Schedule 1.

·        While the Bylaw is permissive, it does have a freedom camping designated site approach; and this is the view that is presented to campers on their apps. That is, the apps advise of designated sites, and this approach has worked well.

 

4        The Government is consulting on how to make freedom camping in New Zealand more sustainable. The Government recognises that many New Zealanders enjoy travelling around the country, staying outside established campgrounds, but that the increasing number of freedom campers has raised concern from some communities around freedom campers’ cumulative impact on the environment, and the cost to host them.

5        The Government considers that while the borders are closed to international visitors, now is the time to address some of the systemic issues facing freedom camping.

6        The discussion document is in Attachment B. The consultation document summarises the proposals as follows:

Issues

7        The issues in the consultation document and the draft submission are summarised here, the authors views expressed in the submission in (brackets):

·        Is vehicle-based freedom camping a problem (yes; but managed through its bylaw, ambassadors etc)

·        Proposal to make it mandatory for vehicle-based freedom campers to use a certified self-contained vehicle (not supported, as Council wants the ability to be permissive where a local community supports freedom camping)

·        Proposal to make it mandatory for freedom campers to stay in vehicles which are certified self-contained, unless they are staying at a site with toilet facilities (support, as long as this does not include traditional responsible kiwi camping)

·        Proposals to improve the regulatory tools for government land managers (all fully supported to improve compliance)

·        Self-containment standards being strengthened (neutral, not a particular concern in the District to date)

·        Homelessness (these groups should stay in camping grounds, and do not support Council’s designated sites being used for this purpose)

Factors to Consider

Legal and Statutory Requirements

8        There are no considerations in making a submission.

Community Views

9        This MBIE consultation is open to the public.

Costs and Funding

10      The draft submission supports ongoing Tourism Infrastructure Funding (TIF) - type funding.

Policy Implications

11      Changes to freedom camping regulation by the Government may well result in the Council choosing to complete an early review of the Freedom Camping Bylaw (current review date is 2025).

Analysis

Options Considered

Option 1 – Submit a submission, with any amendments seen fit

Advantages

Disadvantages

·        Council’s views may be considered by the Government

·        None

 

Option 2 – Do not submit

Advantages

Disadvantages

·        None

·        Lost opportunity

 

Assessment of Significance

12      Not significant.

Recommended Option

13      Option 1.

Next Steps

14              The submission will be forwarded to MBIE.

Attachments

a             Submission form supporting sustainable freedom camping

b             MBIE discussion document    

 


Council

05 May 2021

 

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