Long term QLDC finance boss Stewart Burns to leave council

by Peter Newport - Apr 08, 2024

Stewart Burns will be retiring from the Queenstown Lakes District Council at the end of this year after 28 years driving the council's finances. 

Mr Burns lists his role at the QLDC on LinkedIn as the council's deputy chief executive and general manager of finance.

The last ten years have been stormy ones on the finance front for the council with wide ranging financial reforms proposed by former chief executive Adam Feeley being largely abandoned or reversed following Mr Feeley's resignation in November 2015.

In recent times Mr Burns has found himself at the helm of the council's finances as debt levels have grown, the payroll has increased from 300 to 600 and a number of key construction and speculative property deals have gone dramatically over budget.

Mr Burns has largely avoided media comment and scrutiny, even during the procurement scandal that resulted from a five year Crux investigation. The investigation found that the QLDC had deliberately avoided following its own purchasing rules even after the issue was highlighted in 2019 by the council's own procurement manager.

Recent years have also seen record levels of rates increases and controversy over the QLDC's decision not to prioritise expenditure on clean drinking water. Deficiencies in the district's water supply were highlighted in last year's cryptosporidium outbreak. 

A brief statement from the council was issued to Crux today:

"Stewart Burns will be retiring at the end of 2024 with our thanks and best wishes after 28 years’ service at council.

"Hence he will oversee the delivery of QLDC’s Long Term Plan 2024-2034 in September and Annual Report 2023-2024 in October/November.

"We will begin advertising for a new Assurance, Finance and Risk general manager shortly to enable an appropriate handover period between Stew and his replacement."

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