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Monday, 24 June 2024

Draft Long Term Plan 2024-2034 to be considered for consultation

Councillors will be asked to consider and approve the draft Long Term Plan 2024-2034 (LTP) Consultation Document and supporting information this Thursday.

GROUP Mayor And Councillors WEB With Melissa

Councillors will be asked to consider and approve the draft Long Term Plan 2024-2034 (LTP) Consultation Document and supporting information at the Full Council Meeting this Thursday.

The draft LTP and Consultation Document identifies the key challenges facing the Queenstown Lakes District and proposes how they will be addressed through a workplan for the next ten years.  It sets out all the services, projects and activities Council is planning to deliver on behalf of the district, proposes a strategy for how they are funded and what that means for rates.  

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Glyn Lewers said the draft LTP has been developed within an incredibly challenging context. 

“As we look ahead to the next ten years, affordability is top of mind for everyone. We’ve been hit by so many external factors outside of our control.  Things like inflation, high interest rates and government compliance costs are being felt by the whole local government sector and worldwide.”

“Everything we do is costing more to deliver making this one of the most difficult budgets to prepare for the district.  In short, it simply will not be possible to deliver many of the things the community or this Council want to within the existing significant financial constraints,” he said.

The coalition Government decision to repeal Three Waters legislation was followed closely by a directive to councils to include planning and funding for three waters service delivery across the full ten years of their LTPs. This has had a significant impact on budgets compared to the previous requirement to include planning and funding for three waters service delivery for years one and two only.

“The consequence of this change in direction is huge for our district and we’ve spent the last six months working closely with staff to reintegrate this significant cost back into the budgets.   We’ve scrutinised projects, services, programmes, and general operating costs to see where cuts can be made and have had some really challenging conversations around priorities and what this means for rates increases,” Mayor Lewers said.

“We did this by focusing on making sure we get the basics right first, which means prioritising a solid foundation of infrastructure, community facilities, and consistent levels of service.  This is particularly relevant for the first two years of the LTP, which largely focuses on core compliance activities,” he said. 

“I’d like to thank Councillors and staff for the considerable time and effort that has gone into the development of this draft LTP – it has been a huge undertaking so far and considerably more challenging than any other plan we’ve developed in the past,” he said. 

The draft LTP proposes an average rates increase of 15.6% for 2024-2025, which is historically high but unavoidable as we are required to balance our budget.

QLDC General Manager of Assurance, Finance and Risk, Stewart Burns said such a high increase is not something that is proposed lightly and Council is very aware of the extra pressure it places on ratepayers. 

“It’s a challenge councils and communities right across the country are facing and the fact remains that currently, rates contribute over half of our income,” Mr Burns said.

“While there are a few other levers we can pull, such as user fees and charges, development contributions or investment dividends, the way the current system is set up means that we rely on rates to fund a large chunk of our work. We have also reduced capital expenditure to include only “must do” projects in the first three years of the draft LTP to reduce the impact on rates.”

“And while government has signalled it will be introducing new funding tools, there is currently no certainty about what that might look like and when it will be available.  Rates increases like this are not equitable or sustainable and we’re committed to advocating for alternative funding tools because it is a priority to reduce the rates burden on our ratepayers,” he said.  

If approved, consultation on the draft LTP will run from Friday 28 June until 28 July and be formally notified in local newspapers.  Copies of the Consultation Document and supporting information will be available from that date online at letstalk.qldc.govt.nz, at Council offices and libraries across the district, or by emailing:
letstalk@qldc.govt.nz

The Consultation Document will also be distributed to letterboxes across the district and posted or emailed to non-resident ratepayers.

The Mayor and Councillors will be out and about at markets and pop-up sessions right across the district during July. A full schedule of events, and more information will be available at letstalk.qldc.govt.nz/long-term-plan-2024-2034 

Submissions can be made on any aspect of the draft LTP.  Highlighted consultation topics include bringing forward investment in community facilities such as new sports fields for Wānaka, clean energy upgrades for the district’s swimming pools, new sports fields and facilities at 516 Ladies Mile, along with a proposed targeted Rate to recover costs of Queenstown Town Centre upgrade projects. 

ENDS|KUA MUTU.

Media contact: communications@qldc.govt.nz or call 03 441 1802.

FURTHER INFORMATION | Kā pāroko tāpiri

There are two further topics that will be open for submissions over the same period:

  • Proposed changes to Development Contributions Policy

  • Future of Council-owned Elderly Housing assets