Hut Fees

Away from the 70 odd bookable huts on great walks etc - we have another 520 or so huts on our land where DoC expects payment via hut tickets or hut passes and 370 for which no fee is charged. Is the system working?
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@madpom: "I'd love someone (else!) to do a FOI request to find out: a) The total proceeds from hut passes and tickets, and b) the total spent on backcountry huts and backcountry tracks." It wasn't a formal OIA request, which in actuality doesn't mean they're not supposed to treat it as one, but I asked this (but only where huts are concerned) in 2010. http://www.windy.gen.nz/index.php/archives/479 For the year-ending June 2009: Hut passes brought in $396,000. Adult tickets $412,750. Youth tickets $32,750. Cash transactions $437,500. (Cash transactions are apparently when groups like schools just pay for everything direct without tickets.) That's $1.279m total from the pass/ticket system in a year. Note the non-discounted cost for an annual pass at that time was $90. Now it's $122, but without querying a future year it's unclear how the increased cost affected sales. [added-with-edit]: Separately, bookings for Great Walk huts generated an income of $3.9 million during the same time. During that year, total expenditure on "huts" was $16.5 million, and that *did* include Great Walk huts. The accountant I corresponded with stated that it wasn't possible to break down expenditure between Great Walk huts and other huts, which sounded dubious to me but I didn't try to push for anything further under the law at the time. Obviously it would have been useful to know this, so as to make it clearer how much from regular hut tickets is going towards the non-GW part of the hut network where those tickets are mostly used. In modern times it's a different situation again, because there are some further non-Great-Walk huts which have shifted from the regular ticket/pass system to the booking system. Also that was only a single year, so it's unclear if DOC has a particularly high maintenance or low maintenance year for huts compared with those on either side.
Oh, on this: "Maybe I'll have to man up and learn how to do an FOI ... Or maybe I'll just wimp out and just go to work and cut down some weeds ..." On the surface it's as simple as asking for information, which can be done by sending an email. But you could also make use of a website like https://fyi.org.nz/ to streamline the process. That's also a good archive of the types of requests many people make, and the responses they get. Once asked, under the Official Information Act, government agencies have to treat it as an OIA request unless it's specifically clarified that it isn't. This means they have 20 working days to respond with the information, if they hold the information and if there's not good reason (defined in the law) to refuse the request. If the agency you ask isn't the most appropriate one, they're required to transfer your request to somewhere else, and inform you they've done so. If they think it'll take longer than 20 working days, they have to inform you soon after receipt, and give you a date. It's important to try and be specific about what you want. The law lets them to refuse if you're not clear enough about what you want, or if you're just asking for a much too diverse range of stuff, which can be really annoying as a response after waiting 4 weeks. They're also not required to create new information for you. For example, if DOC doesn't actually know how much it spent on huts and tracks in a spreadsheet somewhere (which would amaze me), they don't have to spend ages figuring it out just for you. But if they didn't have it, you could also request other data and figure it out yourself. Sometimes it's easier just to ask politely and informally, or to phone ahead and explain what you want and ask for advice on how to phrase a request so that someone's time isn't wasted. It's good to have the law as a backup, though, if you're not getting back what you should be entitled to. The whole process is answerable to the Ombudsman, which is strategically underfunded by the political branch of the government for the number of complaints it needs to handle. Also if you're asking anything which might be perceived as distantly controversial, many Ministers demand that their departments inform them of the request. Helen Clark apparently initiated this policy back in Corngate days when she was cornered by John Campbell from info off an OIA response she hadn't been made aware of. That micro-management policy of Ministers demanding to be aware of which info's being given to whom, and signing it off before it's released, is now running rampant, which it a bit annoying because lots of the overhead and waiting time results from waiting for paperwork to go through Ministers' offices.
Cheers @izogi. it did cross my mind you mighthave already done this. Will digest the figures ... The foi guide is very welcome. Will have to bookmark that one.
Yeah, sorry about the verbosity in hindsight. :)
Wait a minute, don't people get paid to think about this stuff?? So the hut system runs at a huge loss, doesn't everything.. Sorry but yea, just saying :)
I think more wondering about how much of a loss it runs at. @madpom's point (I think, can't speak for him) was that if income from fees is so pitiful compared with what's spent, should we be bothering with a fee collection system instead of just fully funding it? That's my own view too, in part because it's a collection system is relatively unfair. It's unenforceable (short of @PhillipW's thing of encouraging people to enforce it more through peer pressure) and there's lots of anecodotal evidence that it gets lots of abuse. Also because there's the overhead of maintaining the ticket system to begin with which needs to be covered as well as huts, but as far as I know we're not sure what's involved with that either. Or we could just acknowledge that it's voluntary. Ask people to pay what they think it's worth. This might result in fewer people paying overall, but would it result in more income?
Well in a perfect world they would be free for everyone, funded by the ridiculous amount of taxes our crooked government levers off the ever pressed middle class.
1 deleted post from Pro-active
What would it take to have someone travelling TA south to north, checking hut passes ?. Waves of different people doing different legs ?. How would they enforce non-compliance ?. How much of that would it take before word got out we're not a 'soft touch' on social media ?. Blitz the 'on' season ?. It's not just the collection of fees. There's also maintaining standards of behavior eg food scraps & toileting.
"How would they enforce non-compliance ?." They invoice on the spot, all wardens carry an invoice book. And what you are referring to is called a roaming warden, and they already have them. "How much of that would it take before word got out we're not a 'soft touch' on social media ?. Blitz the 'on' season ?." The DoC is pretty well onto the hut fee dodging (well they are around here) and I know from talking to guys who worked as wardens that they regularly do blitzes with roaming wardens. We did talk about it on another thread, some track clearers I met up the Wills Valley were telling me about how someone in the DoC who spoke hebrew was out in the field and picked up on a bit of a 'social network' going on in the hut books, they were tipping each other off on the huts with no wardens etc I am sure it occurs with several other visitor groups too. Anyway, I still think if they were fully funded then it would never be an issue to begin with.
@pipeking - That's good to hear, thanks, tho I haven't seen much evidence of it. The other is a collective tax vs user pays argument.
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Forum Visiting New Zealand
Started by Hugh vN
On 21 April 2015
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