Proposed rates rise will be under 3%

Stewart Burns
Stewart Burns
The average proposed rate increase in the Queenstown Lakes District for 2011-12 would stay under 3%, council finance general manager and deputy chief executive Stewart Burns said yesterday.

After consulting on its draft annual plan during April and May, the council deliberated at hearings this month and will now be asked to adopt the plan, with a proposed average rate increase of 2.81%, at its meeting on Tuesday.

A total of 403 submissions were received on this year's draft annual plan, compared with 273 last year.

The "hot" issue this year was gritting, which attracted 280 submissions; road oiling attracted 262; increased user fees for waste management 257; and repayment of debt 237.

Mr Burns said the council also consulted on the issue of debt repayment, with 184 of the submitters (78%) in favour.

Annual plan budgets allowed for "significant" debt repayment over the next year, with just over $8 million provided for, made possible through a "combined approach" of increased rate funding and applying the expected dividend from the Queenstown Airport Corporation of $2.7 million to reduce debt.

"The council is extremely grateful to those members of our community who took the chance to have a say on things that mattered to them," Mr Burns said.

"Every submission was considered by the council, although some tough decisions had to be made."

The council did make several changes to budgets as a result of the submission process. For example, road gritting would be carried out to the same extent as previous years, with an agreement from the New Zealand Transport Association to fund additional costs this year.

Other decisions included: One-off $5000 grant to establish Queenstown Lakes District Heritage Trust; $30,000 over two years to celebrate 150th anniversary of the discovery of gold in Otago; $25,000 to buy a district-wide economic model; $20,000 for maintenance on QLDC mountain-bike trails; one-off $2000 grant to Upper Clutha Historic Records Society towards memorial wall in WanakaCemetery; $25,000 to Shaping Our Future for visioning component; bring forward $180,000 capital budget for Stage 1 of Wanaka Skate park extension (assumes $60,000 to come from local fundraising); bring forward $10,000 for Norski toilet at John Creek, Hawea; bring forward $10,000 for Hawea foreshore improvements; one-off $120,000 capital grant of to extend Hawea Community Centre; allow $200,000 capital budget for possible Cardrona land acquisition.

Other changes had been made to reflect internal submissions, including $25,000 increase in budget for Wanaka Town Centre improvements for the implementation of CCTV in association with the Queenstown project.

"The combined effect of these changes is that the overall average rates increase (after allowing for growth) has increased very slightly from 2.74% to around 2.81%. Holding the rates increase at this level has been difficult because of the many requests for additional funding and the fact that growth in the rating base for the year is less than expected," Mr Burns said.


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