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Increases to climate change and workforce review budgets have pushed the Queenstown Lakes District Council’s rates rise to 6.5%, up from the previously proposed 5.96%.
The increase was approved in a three-and-a-half-hour full council meeting yesterday, at which councillors adopted the 2022-23 annual plan and voted on some of the term’s other most significant items, including Queenstown Airport Corporation’s final statement of intent.
Councillors approved both the 2022-25 climate and biodiversity plan and a capital works re-forecast in which $300,000 was added to the 2021-22 capital plan budget, as well as unanimously adopting the annual plan.
In response to submissions on the annual plan, the climate change budget increased $420,000 and an extra $200,000 was allocated for the workforce review implementation budget, which resulted in an increase in the rates rise from the previously proposed 5.96% to 6.5%, breaching the council’s self-imposed limit of 6%.
The plan also outlined a capital expenditure programme of $244.4million — $23.6million less than the original 2022-23 programme outlined in the long-term plan.
Queenstown Airport Corporation’s (QAC) final SOI was returned to the council, its majority owner, following previous council feedback.
In a draft version submitted in late April, QAC pushed back against the council’s statement of expectation that outlined the airport’s master and strategic plans must be formally agreed to by the council before implementation, and consultation on both must be council-led.
Despite the council urging QAC to align its latest iteration of the SOI with that, the final SOI stated it would consult "in partnership" with the QLDC, and both plans would go to shareholders for "endorsement" before implementation.
In a discussion Cr Penny Clarke deemed to be "splitting hairs", councillors debated the SOI’s semantics and expressed concern about the council’s potential loss of control over the plans.
Cr Niki Gladding proposed an amendment to alter the SOI to state the strategic plan could not be implemented until it had been formally agreed by council. However, councillors expressed the need for trust in QAC’s board and the amendment was lost in a 7 to 3 vote, before councillors approved the SOI 6 to 4.