‘Queenstown Inc’ backs council shake-up

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A body representing Queenstown’s business community has swung in behind a council restructure – but with a warning.

Queenstown Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ann Lockhart today released a statement commending Queenstown Lakes District Council for undertaking its recent review with its aim of providing cost-savings and efficiencies for ratepayers.

The business community supports the proactive stance council has taken, she says, adding feedback from Queenstown businesses is the review is overdue and essential for the future direction of the district.

“The review is a very positive step and the chamber is optimistic about the potential efficiencies and improved services which will benefit the whole community, which is after all the Queenstown Lakes District Council’s chief funder.

“It is refreshing to see the leadership which is being shown by the council. The chamber firmly believes that organisational reviews should be carried out in local government, just as businesses regularly do, to continually improve the service which the council delivers.”

The chamber appreciates it’s an unsettling period for council staff and their families and hopes any changes will be as seamless as possible, Lockhart says.

“It’s better however to make fundamental changes now, as the review suggests, with the idea of rebuilding the council team as required and where it is appropriate.”

Lockhart warns service levels shouldn’t be compromised in a bid to reduce costs only.

“People are more concerned about good service than saving money and it is vital the council doesn’t try to save money for the sake of it, particularly with the district continuing to grow.

“Similarly there needs to be as little disruption as possible during the implementation of the review.”

A final report into the restructure, released last week, estimates total job losses of just over 36 fulltime equivalents, contributing to savings of between $2-$3 million annually in the short to medium term.

The review’s major changes include disestablishing arms-length organisations Lakes Environmental and Lakes Leisure and bringing their functions back in-house, emphasising council’s focus on customer service and employing an in-house legal advisory team - a first for the council.