Port users face hike in charges

HELEN MURDOCH
Last updated 13:00 06/12/2013
Port Tarakohe
Fairfax NZ

FEES RISING: An aerial view of Port Tarakohe in Golden Bay, showing part of the old cement works.

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Port Tarakohe users face paying higher fees as the Tasman District Council works to get it back on its financial feet.

However, the proposed fees and charges have been slashed by about 40 per cent from those first proposed in the council's initial Port Tarakohe Development Plan.

Stage one of the plan deals with fees and charges. Consultation around its second stage, governance and development is still out for public consultation, with feedback due early next year.

The council's corporate services manager, Mike Drummond, told those attending yesterday's full council meeting that reaction to the initial proposed charging regime included claims it was unfair, too expensive and should not be backdated.

Golden Bay councillor Martine Bouillir said changes to the port's fees and charges were a contentious issue in the area with recreational and commercial users adamant they did not want to help fund each other's activities.

Golden Bay Community Board chairwoman Carolyn McLellan said residents were upset with the fee increases and concerned they would not be able to afford the port and marina. The port was a huge asset for the district but asked the council to "go easy on our recreational people, please".

Golden Bay councillor Paul Sangster said the new charges would make the port the most expensive in the top of the South.

"And the facilities are not that great."

Mr Drummond said the port charging model was not sustainable.

In his report to councillors, he said it had been based on flawed accounting and reporting which had masked the port's true financial position.

Under the new model, the port would achieve a working capital surplus of around $300,000, which was likely to be used for maintenance and to reduce debt.

Also included in the five-year budget were provisions for a loading crane and a weighbridge along with a security camera to monitor compliance.

It was possible commercial users would chose to land their catches elsewhere, but that was the council's commercial risk. "We need to make the decision to go forward and will be monitoring the situation closely."

Mayor Richard Kempthorne said he appreciated the community's concerns but ratepayers could not afford to continue to subsidise the port's commercial activities.

Ms Bouillir and Mr Sangster voted against the proposed fee increases.

To questions from the Nelson Mail outside the meeting, Mr Drummond said the port had $808,000 in losses written off and $551,000 in rates funding since 2006. The council stopped its rates subsidy to the port from July 1 this year and has since operated the entity as a closed account.

The port carries $2.9 million in outstanding loans.

Mr Drummond said the port's poor financial position was due to both insufficient income and the need to pay finance costs, which amounted to about 26 per cent of the port's total expenses.

Port Tarakohe was effectively a monopoly supplier and the council used modelling from similar entities around New Zealand as a basis of setting the proposed fees and charges.

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The process looked at the capital value of the asset and the debt and equity balance.

The initial development plan models assessed the port needed to return 7.29 per cent on its $11 million value which would have give the council a $1.46m return over five years.

The result was to reduce total theoretical income by 40 per cent under the current potential model considered by councillors yesterday to $875,000 with the biggest discount ($515,000) applying to wharf users.

The council proposes to bring in staged increases over the next five years with the largest increases from January 1 and the next jump in fee increases scheduled from July 1 under the draft annual plan 2014-15.

This would see annual berthage and mooring recreational fees set at $324 per metre from January 1 and $355p/m from July 1 - up from the current $262; piled walkway commercial berth fees at $331 p/m from January 1 and $330 from July 1 - up from $237; floating commercial moorings between $375 to $420 p/m (depending on vessel length) from January 1 and between $382p/m and $423 p/m from July 1 - up from $288 to $355; recreational visitors will pay $25 a day from January 1 and $26 a day from July 1 - up from $$18.50; and the Tarakohe Boat Club's barrier arm toll rise to $9 per use from $7.

Commercial cargo increases will see fishermen pay $15.60 per tonne in wharfage from January 1 and $16.07 per tonne from July 1 - up from $10; mussel farmers pay $4.16 per metre from January 1 and $4.50 from July 1 - up from $1.10; and general cargo charged at $5.20 per tonne from January 1 and $5.36 per tonne from July 1 - up from $3.90

- © Fairfax NZ News

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