Extraordinary Council Meeting
Wednesday 19 May 2021 at 9.30am
19 May 2021
Recommendations contained in the council agenda are NOT council decisions. Please refer to council minutes for resolutions.
5.2 Council deliberations on the User Fees and Charges 2021/22 3
19 May 2021
Council deliberations on the User Fees and Charges 2021/22
Robyn Broadhurst, Policy Specialist
Authorised by Group Manager:
Bruce Howse, Group Manager - Corporate Excellence, on 13 May 2021
This report provides background information and presents staff advice and recommendations, to inform council’s deliberation on the Draft User Fees and Charges 2021/22 and Statement of Proposal, including one new charge and changes to the fee structure for coastal structures.
Staff recommend council support the Draft User Fees and Charges 2021/22, inclusive of the one new charge and proposed changes to coastal structure fees.
1. That the report ‘Council deliberations on the User Fees and Charges 2021/22’ by Robyn Broadhurst, Policy Specialist and dated 3 May 2021, be received.
2. That Bruce Howse, Acting Group Manager – Corporate Excellence be given delegated authority to approve any consequential amendments as a result of council decisions on submissions and any minor accuracy and grammatical amendments.
3. That council supports the inflationary increase in charges contained in the User Fees and Charges 2021/22 by 1.5%, as set out in the schedule.
4. That the council supports the Draft User Fees and Charges 2021/22 as notified, and direct staff to prepare the final user fees and charges for council adoption in June 2021.
1. Significance and engagement
Section 76AA of the Local Government Act 2002 (LGA) directs that council must adopt a policy setting out how significance will be determined, and the level of engagement that will be triggered. This policy assists council in determining how to achieve compliance with LGA requirements in relation to decisions.
Engagement with the community has now been carried out. The process of deliberations assists council in achieving compliance with section 77 of the LGA.
2. Policy, risk management and legislative compliance
Consultation on the Draft User Fees and Charges 2021/22 has been carried out pursuant to section 150 of the LGA and in accordance with section 83 of the LGA.
Consideration of submissions through the process of deliberations will achieve compliance with section 77 of the LGA – Requirements in relation to decisions – and with council’s Significance and Engagement Policy, in particular ‘We will consult when we are required to by law, when a proposal is considered significant, and when we need more information on options for responding to an issue’.
Consultation was carried out on council’s Draft User Fees and Charges 2021/22 in conjunction with the process of consultation for the Long Term Plan 2021-2031. This is the usual process for these annual reviews and offers efficiencies in terms of staff resources and public participation as well as producing a complete budget. Consultation involved the production of a full draft user fees and charges schedule complete with a statement of proposal that highlighted the proposed new charge and updated fee structure for coastal structures, plus amendments to existing policy and charges.
Feedback on the proposals was sought during a month-long period running from 13 March – 16 April 2021. Forty-two submissions were received on the draft user fees and charges during the consultation period. The feedback is summarised in the summary of submissions document (included as Attachment 1 to this item).
The annual review of user fees and charges ensures that changes can be made regularly so that the charges do not become outdated.
The draft schedule for 2021/22 proposed one new fee as follows:
· Increasing the annual navigation safety bylaw fee by $22.71 (incl GST) for the purpose of improved organisation of mooring zones and the recovery of abandoned boats.
The draft schedule also included amendments and changes to fees, charges and policy including:
· Inflationary increase of 1.5%;
· Updating the fee structure for coastal structures; and
· Increasing all pilotage and shipping navigation and safety services fees by 5%.
For a full list of amendments, please see the Statement of Proposal – Draft User Fees and Charges 2021/22 [included as Attachment 2 to this item].
Overall summary of feedback received
Most feedback received during the consultation process focussed on the proposed new fee for mooring owners, as an increase to the annual navigation safety bylaw fee, which are addressed in more detail below.
Seven submissions were received in support of the proposed fee increases, including the proposed new fee. One submission was received in opposition to the proposed new structure for charging coastal structure permit holders.
One submission was received in support of the proposal to increase staff time available free of charge to one hour when providing information under the RMA, with minor amendments to account for changes to the RMA and Regional Plan rules.
Proposed new fee
A new combined annual fee of $22.71 was proposed, comprising $11.50 to allow for improved organisation of mooring zones, and $11.21 to fund the recovery of abandoned or derelict boats (partially funded by rates at a split of 35/65 rates/navigation safety bylaw fee). This new fee was to be added to the annual navigation safety bylaw fee for individual swing, pile and jetty moorings, and for swing moorings owned by one person or organisation, comprising 10 to 24 moorings.
It is noted that the majority of feedback received on the proposals provided comment on the proposed new fee.
Submitters questioned why council are charging marina berths this new fee. This is not being proposed. The fee is only for individual swing, pile and jetty moorings, and for swing moorings owned by one person or organisation, comprising 10 to 24 moorings.
Another common question raised in submissions was why council are not charging trailer/runabout boats. To date this has not been possible due to the lack of boat registration regulations, however staff note that these avenues are being explored.
Many submitters questioned why council does not charge the owners of the abandoned vessels, and why responsible mooring owners should pay for those causing the issues. Wherever possible, council does charge the owners of boats for the costs incurred in dealing with them. However, in some cases this is not possible – either they cannot be found, they are destitute, the vessel has been abandoned, or in some cases the owner is deceased.
In deciding how to therefore distribute the cost of the activity of dealing with these vessels, consideration must be given to who benefits from the activity, and who gives rise to the need for the activity. In this case, there is a shared benefit to be gained from dealing with abandoned and derelict vessels across boat owners and the general community; however, the benefit to the boat owners is considerably higher. In terms of considering who gives rise to the need for the activity, it is considered that this falls primarily on boat owners as a collective, particularly those on moorings, as a much higher portion of derelict boats are on moorings. Ratepayers as a collective give little rise to the need for the activity.
Staff consider that, given the proposal of a 35/65 split of the cost with rates, the charge is fair. This aligns with council’s revenue and financing policy which adopts a model for funding activities related to harbour safety and navigation of ‘Fee/subsidy: majority; rates/general funds: residual’.
The proposed new fee also includes improved organisation of mooring zones. Overall there is a need for more funds to resolve the many problems moorings cause, for reasons of navigational safety, e.g. vessels sinking and breaking off cause damage to other vessels and the environment.
As such, staff recommend that council supports the user fees and charges as notified, with no changes as a result of these submissions. However, it is recommended that the proposed new fee is described as a general navigational fee increase for use for general navigational safety. It is noted that the mooring fees are still not excessive for an annual one-off fee.
Summary of feedback received: Proposed new fee
39 of 42 submissions responded to the proposed new fee: 29 disagreed, seven agreed, and three didn’t state either way.
Regarding improved organisation of mooring zones, common themes from submitters were that the fee should be a one-off and not ongoing; it is revenue gathering and overinflated; and mooring owners appear to be targeted.
Regarding recovery of abandoned or derelict boats, common themes from submitters were that: it should be a user pays scheme; the cost of recovering abandoned boats should be borne by the owners; generally mooring owners were not responsible for these abandoned boats and shouldn’t be required to pay more than general rate payers; it is revenue gathering and overinflated; mooring owners appear to be targeted; charges should also be imposed on runabouts/boat ramps; and it goes against councils own principle of fairness.
It is proposed to change the cost of marine farm inspections from that of an even split between approximately 100 farms, to that of ‘by developed area’. This means that smaller operators will benefit, however bigger farms will see a large increase due to their size.
An example of this would be a large farm (84 hectares) would increase from approximately $481.00 (2020-21) to $2964. Conversely, a smaller farm (<0.5 hectares) would reduce by approximately $100 to $375.50.
The method of charging the cost of marine farm inspections in accordance with their size is considered by staff to be the fairest, and staff recommend that council supports the user fees and charges as notified, with no changes as a result of these submissions.
It is noted that a submission objected to the use of helicopters and frequency of inspections. While this does not relate to the changes proposed in the draft user fees and charges, it is noted here that, while staff inspect the Parua Bay oyster farm by drone, this is due to it being isolated from other farms making it more efficient to use a drone rather than walking the farm.
However, helicopters are by far the most cost-effective means of inspecting most farms. Given the flight restrictions of using drones it would take many times longer (than by helicopter) to travel to every farm to fly the drone for inspections; likely weeks to months, verse three days in a helicopter. Even then some farms would not be able to be fully inspected due to line of sight limitations, without launching from a vessel, which would be at the expense of the consent holder.
The frequency of inspection is provided by resource consent and is deemed appropriate. Historically, we trailed two yearly inspections for oyster farms. This did not work as the inspections were too infrequent for dealing with compliance issues and reducing frequency for compliant farms is not considered practical.
Summary of feedback received: fee structure for coastal structures
One submission was received that opposed updating the fee structure for coastal structures.
The submission specifically objected to marine farm inspection charges going from per farm to per developed area, stating that there was no need as the current system spread the cost amongst everyone. The submission further stated that they would consider supporting a fairer system, however as is sought to maintain the current charging structure (per farm).
The submission also objected to the council using helicopters to carry out annual inspections due to the cost, combined with the above increase, coming at a difficult time. The submission sought to consider the use of drones for inspections and/or reducing the frequency of inspections.
As noted above, one submission was received in support of the proposed changes to free time increasing to one hour and with the minor amendments to account for changes to the RMA and Regional Plan rules.
No other submissions specifically addressed any of the proposals within the Draft User Fees and Charges 2021/22. Therefore overall, staff recommend that council supports the user fees and charges as notified, with no changes as a result of these submissions.
Attachment 1: Summary of submissions - Draft User Fees and Charges 2021/22 ⇩
Attachment 2: Statement of proposal - Draft User Fees and Charges 2021-22 ⇩