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Long term plan and what I've learned

An unscientific summary of what I've heard during the consultation sessions online, in Alexandra, Wānaka and Queenstown, and womanning a table at the Remarkables Market in Frankton over two Saturday mornings.

That the way rates are calculated on Capital Value was widely misunderstood

By me and others! The increasing difference in capital value between Otago's two main centres was top of mind for many. It means that the sum total of rates money collected from Queenstown Lakes is higher than that collected from Dunedin despite Dunedin having a greater population. This is because the capital value of Queenstown Lakes properties exceeds that of Dunedin. It does not mean that individual ratepayers are paying 35% more than their counterparts in Dunedin although this is what many people had assumed. The rates calculator was a useful tool in showing people that the $1m house in Dunedin pays about the same (actually a bit more because of targeted rates such as the Leith flood scheme) as a $1m house in the Lakes District. Despite the house vs house comparison, some people thought that the difference was unfair, others saw it as a property tax that is well justified.

That there is an appetite for Landscape Scale Environmental Funding

People generally seemed to favour money being collected in one area be spent in that same area. However, some saw issues with this approach, thinking that could lead to unintended consequences. While more local application of the funds is attractive on the face of it - it's easier to monitor locally, it feels that actions will be more locally driven - a more coordinated, district-wide approach may well be the right answer here when we consider places that need action but don't have many people living there.

That those who don't use Public Transport definitely do not want to pay for it

The proposal in the plan that all of the Lakes District contribute to the public transport system operating in Queenstown was widely criticised. The argument that Wānaka has much to gain from successful public transport in Queenstown really did not fly. It might have found more fertile ground had a PT system already been established or promised in Wānaka. I doubt that this argument will fare any betterin Middlemarch or other parts of the Dunedin district. Wānaka strongly re-iterated its desire for a public transport system - particularly between Hāwea and Wānaka.

The uniform targeted rate proved unpopular. The idea that a hotel in Queenstown might pay the same as a house in Makarora wasn't well liked. Most would like to see either some sort of commercial differential or dwelling equivalent model. Failing that, go back to a capital value targeted rate to capture something from the tourism market.

That people like to know how much they pay for specific services

People liked seeing the Wilding Pine rate on their rates bills. It brings attention to the issue and they like to see the exact amount they are contributing. People wanted to see more individual lines on their rates bill showing their contribution to specific areas of service, even if it makes that document larger. Some thought we were missing a communication opportunity by not specifying specific amounts for specific projects or services.

We are now working our way through several hundred pages of submissions in preparation for hearings that start on May 20 in Queenstown. I'm interested to see if the feedback I received in person is echoed across the region.

What I'm reading (apart from LTP submissions!):

The Guardian conducted a survey of IPCC scientists (lead authors), some 350 responded. They're in despair. They've been telling us for years and now don't know what they can do.

I enjoyed this read in the Farmers' Weekly from Rachel Keedwell, Chair of Horizon's Regional Council. For months and months several around our table have been trying to remind those that want us to drop the Regional Land and Water Plan, that we absolutely should not. a) Legally we can't, the NPS-FW is still in place and must be adhered to until it's not, and b) continuing on is the right thing to do. Rachel's message that we are between a rock and a hard place is affirming.

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