South’s highest hikes

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Wakatipu ratepayers look like being saddled with the heftiest rates increases in the South Island. 

Queenstown Lakes District Council’s proposed annual plan talks of an average rates hike of 7.95 per cent – more than the increases of seven other South Island councils sampled by Mountain Scene. 

In Central Otago the average hike is 7 per cent, in Nelson it’s 6.3 per cent, Dunedin 5.3 per cent, Invercargill 4.5 per cent, Timaru 4.06 per cent, Christchurch 3.96 per cent, Balclutha 3.66 per cent and Oamaru a miserly 1.8 per cent. QLDC plans to rake in $64 million in rates and user charges in its new financial year beginning July 1 – compared with a forecast $59.8m in the current year. 

A press release announcing the annual plan spoke of “a lot of hard work” by QLDC staff to peg back the rates increase. Almost $11m in infrastructure and property projects has been chopped – or simply deferred until the financial clouds clear. 

But there’s no mention of staff or overhead cuts – one new, unpopular quango, Lakes Leisure, even gets 
$432,000 extra funding for the Events Centre, Alpine Aqualand, sports fields and community halls. 

And that’s on top of big hikes in leisure-related annual user charges. 

The Wakatipu “aquatic centre charge” goes up $19 to $91 per ratepaying property – and the “recreation charge” rises $18 per property to $269. 

Waste management is another service ratepayers will pay more dearly for, with QLDC jacking up the user charge by $25 yearly per residential property. 

Motorists will also be hit in the pocket with parking increases. 

QLDC aims to collect an extra $190,000 yearly by putting up prices at the Ballarat Street carpark from 50 cents an hour to $1 – and by putting in meters at the free Gorge Road carpark. 

Gorge Rd is to cost 50 cents an hour, with a cap of $2.50 a day. 

Annual plan submissions close on May 17.