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Community Feedback Helps Shape Ten Year Plan

Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) elected members will be asked to adopt the final 2021-2031 Ten Year Plan on Wednesday 30 June. Community feedback has helped shape changes to the draft in several important areas.

The Council received 504 submissions from individuals, groups, and organisations across the district during the March-April consultation period, and 82 people chose to address Councillors at hearings held in Wānaka and Queenstown.

QLDC General Manager Corporate Services Meaghan Miller said that despite being prepared in the unique context of a global pandemic and associated affordability challenges, it was reassuring to see a good level of public engagement and interest.

“We know people have had many issues to deal with in the last 18 months so we are grateful that so many have been able to take the time to engage with this important planning process. The key themes that came from the community submissions included Council increasing its investment in climate action, a clear appetite for more active transport sooner, and provision of more community facilities.”

Submissions received were largely supportive of the preferred options proposed for the four ‘Big Issues’ which were as follows:

> Water Treatment Programme timing: Complete the Water Treatment Programme as outlined in the plan (by 2024)

> Wakatipu Transport Capital Programme (scope): Complete the Wakatipu Transport Capital Programme as outlined in the plan

> New targeted rate on Queenstown Town Centre properties: Rates recovery focused on wider CBD ratepayers (Council has not made a final decision on the proposal for the new targeted rate on Queenstown Town Centre properties. This matter will be considered further in the following 12 months).

> Increasing user fees and charges: Fees and Charges Increased as per Revenue and Financing Policy

“Unfortunately, it’s never possible for Council to meet all of the requests made in submissions especially in the context of the challenging capital programmes in this Ten Year Plan. All submissions were considered, and despite funding constraints, a number of changes have been proposed as a direct result,” added Ms Miller.

Key changes to the proposed 2021-2031 Ten Year Plan to be considered by Councillors are as follows:

> Accelerating in active travel networks for Wānaka, bringing the design and construction of the ‘Wānaka Pool to School Active Travel’ route to Year 2 ($2M) and Year 3 ($3M). This would be delivered on a non-subsidised basis

> Providing additional resources in QLDC’s climate action team, including an additional $200k to the operational budget and an additional team member in Year 1.

> Funding to provide a Youth & Community facility in Wānaka, at the former Mitre 10 site. Subject to successful negotiations, this will provide a home for a number of community groups and a base for a range of QLDC sport and recreation programmes. The building will be leased for a ten-year period and operational budget has been included to run the facility.

> Creating a community centre at 516 Ladies Mile, Queenstown. This project will see the existing property at 516 Ladies Mile retrofitted to be a full-use community centre with better access and infrastructure upgrades.

> Funding to assist in developing an Arts and Culture Hub at Remarkables Park in partnership with the Three Lakes Cultural Trust. Subject to a successful agreement between stakeholders, this would be an opportunity to create a home for a number of arts and cultural groups within a facility leased for ten years.

A full list of proposed changes for the Councillors to consider will be available when the agenda report is published on the QLDC website on 25 June (see the What’s Changed? section of Ten Year Plan Volume One).

Ms Miller added that the Council was delighted to propose significant levels of support once again for community projects and organisations throughout the district.

“As well as providing the grants for recognised Community and Residents’ Associations, there are many good causes and committed groups in our communities. These include community development initiatives, sports and activities, environmental groups, arts and cultural trusts, economic development, and continuing our long-time support for the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust and the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group. In total the Council will be asked to confirm a grant fund of $1.99M.

QLDC General Manager Community Services Thunes Cloete said that investment in arts and culture was also a theme that came through the submissions process and there was interest in the allocation of a $51M provision for performing arts facilities.

“Through planning and deliberations, the Councillors have been clear that this budget provision must be for performing arts centres in the district’s key locations, namely Queenstown and Wānaka. At this stage, planning for a performing arts centre in Queenstown centre is further advanced with the assumption of investing in a facility at the proposed Project Manawa site on Stanley Street around Year 8 of the plan. The current intent for Wānaka would be to begin a process of needs assessment to consider what type of new facility might be required before understanding what needs to be allowed for in future planning cycles. However, Council has confidence that there is a high likelihood that philanthropic funding will be available and envisages that this will support proposals for both towns to proceed,” said Dr Cloete.

The proposed changes to the plan and other contributory factors would affect the final rates increase, said QLDC General Manager Finance, Legal and Regulatory Stewart Burns.

“There has been some upsides such as an increase in the forecast dividend from the Queenstown Airport Corporation from $45.1M to $66.4M, but there are other considerations such as the Wānaka Airport lease.”

“As a result of the Judicial Review decision, QLDC has revised its budgets in relation to Wanaka Airport. All direct revenue and expenses related to Wānaka Airport are now included in the Ten Year Plan as opposed to within the QAC budgets. Although the figures are yet to be finalised, provision has also been made to repay QAC for fixed assets and the pre-paid lease in the 2021-2022 year,” added Mr Burns.

On 31 May 2021, Waka Kotahi NZTA informed all local authorities of their indicative funding allocations for the next three years for road maintenance activities (including renewals). As with many local authorities, there is now a difference between the amount of subsidy assumed in the Ten Year Plan compared to the indicative allocation for this period.

“Whilst the loss of funding is disappointing, QLDC does have options to manage the situation. It is our intention to re-prioritise road maintenance activities to stay within our current ‘local share’ budgets over the next three years. This may include spreading some renewal works over a longer period and undertaking some works without subsidy. We can do this up to a value of $7.1M without impacting rates. Council will therefore adjust Ten Year Plan budgets accordingly in August 2021 once the final funding decision is made by Waka Kotahi for all roading programmes,” said Mr Burns.

“Continuing to invest in our roading and transport networks across the district, as well as the essential 3 waters infrastructure, remains a priority for QLDC. Even in the context of COVID-19 this remains a high-growth Council and an attractive place to live, work, play and invest, and we need to ensure that our infrastructure investment keeps pace with a growing local population. This is a core role for councils to ensure that are meeting the needs of current and future communities,” Mr Burns added.

The overall impact of the proposed changes altered the increase in rates as outlined in the Consultation Document. The proposed average annual increase in rates over the ten years is 4.4% (after growth), just 0.1% above the 4.3% originally indicated during the consultation period. In year one (July 2021 - June 2022), that is an average of 5.45% (after growth) across the district. Details summarising the rates impact by property type are available in Volume Two of the 2021-2022 Ten Year Plan (see the section Our policies / ō Mātou Kaupapa here > Rates / Rēti).

Council would now consider these changes and the final 2021-2031 Ten Year Plan at its meeting on Wednesday 30 June. The full documents and agenda will be available on the QLDC website, and the meeting can be viewed through livestream on the QLDC Facebook page.

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