Affordability a major issue

The Crown Range Rd between Arrowtown and Cardrona is popular with tourists.
The Crown Range Rd between Arrowtown and Cardrona is popular with tourists.
Uncertainty hangs over road funding in Queenstown Lakes district, which could be short-changed by up to $1.4 million.

Queenstown District Lakes Council senior communications adviser Michele Poole said it had been advised its new funding rate, under a New Zealand Transport Agency review, would be 49%.

The new rate is four percentage points higher than it now receives.

But, for the district, the funding formula has as many bends and twists as some of the roads the money will be spent on.

''The impact on the council's roading budgets is uncertain,'' Ms Poole said.

The district council gets 90% and 100% government funding respectively for popular tourist routes the Crown Range and Glenorchy Rds.

Ms Poole said the council did not know if funding for those roads would drop to 49%.

''We also receive a higher FAR [funding assistance rate] for new road works.''

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden has told the NZTA the proposed cuts were ''extremely concerning'' and raised ''real affordability issues''.

Also, not enough was known yet about the transitional arrangements.

The agency's review prompted the council to send a submission in March outlining its concerns.

At a council meeting in March, 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 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.''

He also wrote the council was ''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 [national parks]''.

The agency also proposes to reduce the funding rate for new roads, which the council submitted would penalise high-growth areas. It has asked the agency for more information.

 


Around Otago

 

Otago: Road funding consternation

Central Otago: Bridge replacements major expense

North Otago: Changes cause of concern

South Otago: Could puch rates up 7.2%

Southland: Council 'can live with' reduced funding level

Dunedin: Funding better than expected