QLDC unhappy about NZTA cuts

A proposal by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) to reduce monetary support for Queenstown Lakes District transport projects and programmes could mean a cut of between $204,000 and $1.4 million for the district.

The agency is reviewing its subsidy rates for local authority transport projects and programmes, prompting the Queenstown Lakes District Council to send a submission to the agency outlining its concerns.

In a report discussed at the council's meeting in Wanaka on Thursday, council transport policy and stakeholder manager Denis Mander said the submission ''expresses concern that the current proposals do not consider the economic return from the agency's investment in our projects and proposals''.

Mr Mander said it was accepted that the area's ratepayers' ability to afford the costs was relevant but housing and fuel costs ''are relatively high here''.

''In addition, the use of our network is high (due to the large number of tourists) and the cost of running this network is met by a relatively small number of ratepayers.''

The NZTA proposes to remove the special purpose road status which presently applies to the Glenorchy and Crown Range roads.

''We are concerned that funding reductions for special purpose roads will shift the funding burden towards local ratepayers without having regard to the national benefits of these roads, their contribution to the state highway network and our inability to apply rates to the Crown estate (the national parks).''

The agency also proposes to reduce the funding rate for new roads, which the QLDC submitted would penalise high growth areas.

The council's submission asks that the agency's funding mechanism ''enables growth driven and high economic return projects and programmes ... receive a higher funding rate''.

Special purpose roads should continue to be funded at their present rate until further information was sought.

At the request of Local Government New Zealand, the NZTA agency extended the closing date for submissions on the Funding Assistance Rates Review Options discussion document to March 28.