Firstly congratulations to the Okareka Volunteer Rural Fire Force on their winning performance at the Sky Tower Stair Challenge. Details are in the article in this newsletter along with the photo of Blair Gilbert, Phil Muldoon, Phil Rennie and Kierin Oppatt; great effort guys.
Big news in Rotorua in the past month has been the major restructuring of the staff levels at the Rotorua District Council resulting in staffing costs reduced by 10% and savings of $3.5 million. Whilst it would be great to think we can all look forward to a reduction in our rates as a result, it appears that even with this saving we will still have annual rate increases of 3% for a number of years to come.
The three year review of all Property Values in Rotorua is currently underway and the new values will be available in October and will be used for rates assessments in the 2015/16 financial year. Many property sales in recent years at the lakes have been below valuation and in particular those at the higher end of the market so the new valuations will be interesting in the light of the booming property market in Auckland.
The Annual Plans from both the District and Regional Councils will be confirmed later this month and we hope that the staffing reduction at RDC will not impact on levels of service in Rotorua. We are awaiting confirmation of the sign-off by Council of the Walking Track from Boyes Beach to the DOC campground because we are now in a position to start work on the DOC land part of the track so hopefully it will be finished by year end.
The DOC Campground continues to be well patronised and revenue for April/May is ahead of the same period last year. To add to the fund raising opportunities we have asked RDC to consider a partnership with LOCA and other Okareka groups to assist in managing the Freedom Campers who use the Boyes Beach facilities. We hope to have more information shortly.
The proposed increase in access to the Tarawera/Okareka Transfer Station is in the Annual Plan and we hope will be confirmed to give either 24/7 access or similar hours to the Tarawera Trail carpark across the road that is open 8am to 7pm year round.
Council have proposed a number of changes to road speed limits in Rotorua and included is a 50km sign from the DOC reserve as you come down the hill to The Blue Lake around the lake front to the Loop Road turn off to Okareka. Whilst the dangerous period is obviously over the busy summer period and in particular when there are events with lake/road closures (Auckland/
Wellington anniversary weekends). There are more and more tourists year round in campervans/cars who are unfamiliar with the area. Submissions are open to the end of June and the LOCA committee are in favour of extending the restriction to the Blue/Green lake parking area. If you have suggestions/comments please let us know.
In case you were not aware we have lost one of our Life Members, Dame Dorothy Winstone who died in April at the age of 95. Dorothy was a great supporter of Okareka and whilst unable to visit from her home in Auckland in the past couple of years, she remained in contact with friends in the area up until this year. The family bach which is still in Acacia Road was built before the road was sealed; there was no power and all washing was done in the lake. Dorothy was a tireless women’s rights campaigner and prominent academic. She will be sadly missed.
As always we welcome your comments on any issues of interest to our residents and property owners.