Scramble for council’s reduced budget

A forecast $25million has been shaved off Queenstown Lakes District Council’s revised income for the year, with a smaller rates rise and reduced tourism-based income.

As previously reported, the council planned to raise rates by 6.76% but in light of Covid-19 was now targeting a near-inflation increase of about 1.72%.

The council said it also had to factor in reduced revenue from Shotover River and Skyline concessions.

Ngai Tahu Tourism holds exclusive use of the river for its Shotover Jet operation through a concession.

The jet-boats are not planned to run until July 3 and then only under a revised timetable.

A council spokesman said the authority received 7.5% of the operation’s annual income, which last year equated to $1.1million.

From Skyline, the council received just over $2million from a more complicated concession model.

The revised budget was included as part of the public submissions to the council’s proposed annual plan, which had been put together before the Covid-19 crisis.

The revised plan said staff pay freezes and delayed loan repayments would offset some of the fall in expected revenue. Councillors were today to hear presentations from representatives of community interest groups and members of the public.

Some submissions called for a total overhaul of the plans, with the town in a very different position from the virus.

Others, like Whakatipu Wildlife Trust, were expected to push their case for a continuation of grants.

The airport, transport connections and water treatment were common themes in the submissions.

Concerns have been raised by the Arthur’s Point Community Association over the safety and traffic on Edith Cavell Bridge.

The association asked for funding to look into an alternative crossing, such as a cycle and pedestrian bridge.

Arrowtown Promotion and Business Association asked for the council to press for an Orbus link to Queenstown via Arthur’s Point, as well as a service between Shotover Country, Lake Hayes and the village.

The association yesterday launched a donation-based shuttle service to run four days a week.

Douglas Rikard-Bell submitted a request for a community wastewater treatment scheme in Glenorchy in response to growing development.

The hearings were to begin at 10am with a livestream on the council Facebook page.

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