Councillor: QLDC decisions the cause of 15.6 percent rates rise

by Peter Newport - Jun 27, 2024

Queenstown Lakes District councillor Craig Ferguson has said today that up to a third of a proposed 15.6 percent rates rise is the result of recent decisions made by the council.

Speaking at a full council meeting in Queenstown this afternoon Councillor Ferguson also said that high rates rises were taking residents towards the edge of not being able to afford to live in the district - and he blames his own council for much of the cost increase.

"Recent decisions made the council have been responsible for four or five dollars of the current rates increase."

There was a similar thread of soul searching from other councillors at today's meeting that launched public consultation on their Long Term Plan but also anticipated strong community push back on the level of rates increase.

Councillor Melissa White wanted to know why part of her ward, Lake Hayes, was an area being hit by a rates rise of almost 18 percent rather than the average 15.6 percent.

Outgoing veteran QLDC finance boss Stewart Burns told the meeting that this extra Lake Hayes rates rise was a "catch up" due to what was effectively under charging in previous years.

Council debt was mentioned by a few councillors in the context of net debt increasing from the current $642 million to $1.06 billion by 2030. By 2034 QLDC debt is forecast to reach $1.21 billion. Around 50 percent of this year's rates rise is heavily due to higher interest rate costs and depreciation.

Not a pretty picture - QLDC's financial forecast relies heavily on more debt, plenty of spending and healthy revenue

Mayor Glyn Lewers complained that presenting rates increase news to ratepayers was like "being in a meat grinder".

Councillor Nikki Gladding was worried that recent over budget spending was not being captured by the current Long Term Plan with Mr Burns explaining that such amounts would have to be covered by more borrowing.

Councillor Gladding said that she was worried by this response on two counts.

"We are not living within our budgets and we are not living within our means."

Councillor Matt Wong focussed on the council's plan to spread the over-budget costs of the arterial road and CBD upgrades to ratepayers in the CBD and nearby residential areas, rather than the entire district, over a 30 year period.

In the Long Term Plan document it is clear that different parts of the district will experience quite different levels of rate rise from 11.97 percent in Arthurs Point and 12.54 percent in Wānaka to 16 percent in Kingston and 17.85 percent in Lake Hayes.

Rates increases by suburb (Image: QLDC).

Have your say on the Long Term Plan here

Councillors will be available to meet with residents and ratepayers at the following places and times:

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