No rates rise – says Queenstown’s council

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Rates bills across the Wakatipu are expected to remain the same next year.

Queenstown Lakes District Council plans to deliver a zero rates increase in the 2013/14 year, Mayor Vanessa van Uden announced today (Tuesday).

“This council set an expectation to make savings across operations without compromising services and that has been achieved,” van Uden says.

Council anticipates a reduction in its capital expenditure of $8.6 million and in operating costs of $4.5m.

The outcomes of the current organisational review have not been factored into the plans.

“The financial implications of the review will not be factored until next year’s plan but the proposed outcomes of the review will no doubt ensure council can maintain if not improve this sort of result for the future,” van Uden adds.

The zero increase is an average.

“What that means is there is a range of change from -1.31 per cent to 1.75 per cent. It will depend on value, location and services for your property.”

Council was forced to re-calculate this year’s rates levels after introducing new measures which led to wild fluctuations.

The biggest contribution to the proposed zero increase has been through the deferral of projects – through examining their timing, costs and solutions, and through education projects.

“This is not about foisting all the costs on future generations, in some cases it’s a more sustainable way or looking at cost and in others it’s about revisiting assumptions,” council boss Adam Feeley says.

The $4.1m operating cost reduction includes a drop in maintenance costs for roading, Three Waters and reserves.

Van Uden says: “It’s about finding efficiencies in these areas not changing levels of service.

“But we are flagging in the draft plan that in the future we will be looking at levels of service and asking if we can make changes and prioritise road work in particular.”

Councillors will be asked to adopt the draft Annual Plan for community consultation at a meeting on Friday. The plan will then be available online from Sunday with a summary circulated next week.

Submissions close May 13, with the plan adopted on June 25.