Home' The Mirror Central Otago : August 22nd 2012 Contents 6
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Loan backing hailed
Less than sought but 20% a promising start
By MARY-JO TOHILL
Add water and stir: TarrasWater Ltd is looking to pump water from the
Upper Clutha River for its $39m irrigation scheme.
Photo: MARY-JO TOHILL/FAIRFAX NZ
Not as much as they hoped but
not as little as they feared
summed up Tarras Water
Limited's reaction to the news
that Central Otago District
Council would guarantee its
bank loan of about $27m for its
With construction costs of about
$36.5m, the council resolved last
week to guarantee 20 per cent of
the scheme's capital value,
which equated to about $7m
over a five year term.
Although this was significantly
less than Tarras Water's most
optimistic hopes, the council's
move, still subject to public
comment until October, was
regarded as a promising start,
chairman Peter Jolly said.
''The most important thing is
that it sent a signal to the Otago
Regional Council that the proj-
ect has got support, so we
applaud the district council for
supporting regional develop-
In its application for financial
backing, Tarras Water was also
looking to Otago Regional
Council for about $5.3m, about
30 percent of the scheme's
capital value. The district coun-
cil made the regional council's
involvement a condition of
pledging its support.
Using Clutha River water, the
Tarras scheme had the potential
to irrigate about 6500ha, adding
$17.8m a year to the local
economy and create 179 new
jobs in the region. A loan
guarantee would allow the
Tarras project to borrow with a
lower equity ratio and would
also reduce the interest rate
charge, Mr Melhopt said.
With potential to supply about
40 families in the district and a
farmer equity of $7.8m, the
council also resolved that a
''targeted rate mechanism'' be
developed for recovery of future
call from scheme shareholders.
Public shaken and stirred
By MARY-JO TOHILL
Central Otago is in New Zealand's
top three in registrations for the
national earthquake awareness
ShakeOut in September.
With 4,200 people signing up, the
district was in third place for the
number enrolled per capita, Central
Otago district's emergency manage-
ment officer Hamish Keith said.
Author of a comprehensive emerg-
ency management document tabled
at the council meeting last week, Mr
Keith said it was clear actions rather
than words were key to people's
education in disaster management.
Mr Keith's draft report suggested
that Central Otago people's aware-
ness and preparedness was almost
But recent high profile disasters
such as the Canterbury and Christ-
church earthquakes may have
increased public interest in com-
munity civil defence groups.
He said district councils were not
required to get feedback on emerg-
ency management, but members
agreed that it was important to open
this issue up for public comment.
This would cover risk management,
readiness, response and recovery.
An informal session had been
organised for elected members next
Sunday, August 26.
Community civil defence meetings
would be held at the end of this
month and public comment invited
until September 30, with the
emergency management plan due to
be completed in October.
Young not knocking
at the council door
By MARY-JO TOHILL
Wanted: Woman interested in local
government, flexible lifestyle, prefer-
ably Maori, in her 20s.
Unwanted: Pensioner or middle-aged
white man, self-employed, content
with poor pay.
This described the demographic of
current members serving on the
Central Otago District Council,
except for Cr Clare Higginson, Cr
Gordon Stewart believes.
Good-natured quips about the aver-
age age around the table at the
council meeting in Alexandra last
week highlighted an apparent lack of
younger people interested in becom-
''There's not a great mob out there
trying to get in here,'' Cr Stewart
told members during discussion
about a proposal to reduce the
number of councillors from 10 to
eight plus the mayor -- a recommen-
dation that the council eventually
He also mentioned what he got paid
for his councillor duties in July,
about $340 net -- a level he said was
only equivalent to what an orchard
worker could make in a day-and-a-
Cr Jeff Hill said younger people were
not attracted to the role because
what councillors had to routinely
deal with "seems like a waste of
time.'' Cr Neil Gillespie disagreed.
''No, they haven't got the time. It's
not a priority, which could indicate
they're happy with the people doing
Cr Steve Battrick, while believing 10
councillors was ''too many'', won-
dered whether or not eight would be
It was generally agreed with the
proposed combining of Alexandra,
Clyde-Earnscleugh and Manu-
herikia into one ward, there would
still be a workable representation
but there was still concern smaller
communities and more sparsely
populated areas like Teviot Valley
and Maniototo could lose represen-
tation through at-large elections.
However, there was a strong belief
that ''parochialism'' was a thing of
the past, and that councillors now
served the interests of Central Otago
as a whole rather than their
It was no longer a matter of "where
they're from'' and more about a
councillor's accessibility, mayor
Tony Lepper said.
Although loath to lose experienced
colleagues like Cr John Lane of
Roxburgh and Cr Terry Emmitt on
such committees as the council's
often weighty hearings panel, Cr
Gillespie saw the move as a way to
gauge public reaction to a reduced
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