Coun­cil fights levy law changes

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - By GRANT BRYANT

The Queen­stown Lakes Dis­trict Coun­cil is gear­ing up to fight a pro­posed law change which could cause a 5 per cent rates in­crease and put the fu­ture of the Wanaka Sports Fa­cil­ity in doubt.

Queen­stown Lakes Dis­trict Mayor Vanessa Van Uden and coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Adam Fee­ley are likely to make a trip to Wellington’s par­lia­men­tary se­lect com­mit­tee once the coun­cil ap­proves their stand over de­vel­op­ment con­tri­bu­tions – levies paid to the coun­cil when large build­ing de­vel­op­ments re­quire coun­cil in­fra­struc­ture, such as road­ing and wa­ter and sewerage.

In re­cent years, the coun­cil’s rev­enue from such levies has been about $4 mil­lion to $7m a year.

Ms van Uden also urged ratepay­ers to have their say as a change could means an av­er­age 5.7 per cent rates in­crease.

Un­der the bill, coun­cils would no longer be able to levy de­vel­op­ment con­tri­bu­tions for com­mu­nity in­fra­struc­ture, other than pub­lic toi­lets, play­grounds, and com­mu­nity halls, she said. Other in­fra­struc­ture, such as parks and sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties, would have to be funded from rates.

As a high-growth dis­trict which al­ready had the $16m Wanaka Sports Fa­cil­ity bud­geted for by us­ing de­vel­op­ment con­tri­bu­tions, the change would only re­sult in higher rates, Ms van Uden said.

"In a high-growth com­mu­nity like ours, de­vel­op­ers have quite rea­son­ably been re­quired to make con­tri­bu­tions to off­set the fi­nan­cial im­pact their de­vel­op­ment has on the dis­trict. Pop­u­la­tion growth also means we have to in­vest in ad­di­tional com­mu­nity in­fra­struc­ture such as . . . li­brary ca­pac­ity, new parks, sports fields and other re­cre­ational needs."

Queen­stown Lakes Dis­trict cof­fers were pri­mar­ily rates­funded to 55 to 60 per cent, but topped up by Queen­stown Air­port Cor­po­ra­tion div­i­dends and de­vel­op­ment con­tri­bu­tions ac­count­ing for 10 to 20 per cent of yearly in­come in the past five years.

"Our mes­sage is sim­ple – if you don’t want to pay more as a ratepayer for ex­ist­ing or fu­ture com­mu­nity in­fra­struc­ture, then you need to make your views known."

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