QLDC considers three-month delay to Long Term Plan

by Kim Bowden - Feb 12, 2024

The Queenstown Lakes District Council is making moves to delay adoption of its next Long Term Plan, as it adjusts to a new direction from central government on funding of three waters infrastructure.

Ultimately, the decision to slow down the ten-year budgeting exercise or not falls to councillors, who at a meeting on Thursday will vote for or against an up-to three-month extension.

In a statement today, QLDC corporate services general manager Meaghan Miller says the move is being considered following a letter from the new local government minister in December.

Like other councils around the country, she says the QLDC had been drafting its Long Term Plan with the intention of keeping three waters costs on its books only for the first two years of the 10-year outlook, as required by legislation from the former Labour government.

But Simeon Brown's December letter directs councils to redraw those plans to include investment in water assets for the full decade ahead instead.

The council had been preparing to pivot if needed.

“It was no secret the coalition government parties all had intentions to repeal this approach to water service delivery if elected to office," Ms Miller says.

"Our property and infrastructure team had been developing a ‘shadow plan’ of three water capital projects for years three to 10 of the LTP in parallel, acknowledging there would be further detailed work required if or when these were to be added back in."

She is recommending councillors extend the statutory deadline for adopting the Long Term Plan by three months, a move she says many other local authorities are making too.

“While deferring the plan does have several operational implications, it does allow us the necessary time to complete the additional work required to plan for water service delivery throughout the full 10 year period, along with considering potential alternative funding options and affordability for the community."

It is a big ten years ahead for the district, with investment needed to ensure drinking water supplies meet tougher national standards.

Last year, thousands of visitors and residents in central Queenstown were asked to boil tap water to ensure its safety during a cryptosporidium outbreak in the area linked to two non-compliant council water treatment plants.

Ms Miller says, “Three waters makes up a significant portion of overall council expenditure and service delivery, so like every other council across the country, we will be having some challenging conversations around investment prioritisation and larger than expected rates increases”. 

Minister Brown has provided councils the option for the three-month deadline reprieve.

If the councillors opt to take him up on his offer, adoption of the next QLDC Long Term Plan would be pushed out to September 19, with public consultation to happen between the end of June and the end of July.

It would mean the 2023 to 2024 annual report would also be deferred by up to two months, with its adoption no later than December 31.






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