Detailed info for levy voters

Announcement: Mayor Jim Boult, flanked by council boss Mike Theelen, announces the visitor levy referendum

Queenstowners will vote on a specific visitor levy model when an unprecedented district-wide referendum begins.

Mayor Jim Boult last week announced residents will have their say on whether a tourist tax should be introduced to help fund infrastructure, a move described as a milestone for the resort.

But exactly what people will be voting on is still being worked through.

Council comms boss Naell Crosby-Roe says council staff are working with “independent tax and finance advisors” to decide on a model for people to consider.

“We’re finalising the wording but it will essentially ask people whether they support the ability for council to have a visitor levy in the district.

“There will be lots of accompanying information through our usual channels and with the voting papers that will explain how a levy would work, how it’s collected, who pays and how much.

“We want to ensure that everyone can make a fully-informed decision.”

Voting will be conducted by postal vote, and voting papers will be delivered between May 14 and 19.

Voting will close at noon on June 5.

The preliminary result will be announced “as soon as possible” after voting closes on that same day, with the final result publicly notified on June 8, Crosby-Roe says.

“Depending on the outcome of the referendum, the next steps will be agreed with central government who will be required to make the relevant legislative change to enable a visitor levy to be implemented in the district.”

Announcing the referendum, Boult said a levy could add as much as $40 million a year to the council’s coffers.

Council chief executive Mike Theelen this week also said new growth projections, which show the district will need another 17,000 houses to cater for projected population growth over the next 30 years, highlighted the need for a levy.

The council is also predicting total visitor numbers to the district on an average day – now 24,860 – to rise to 39,040 by 2048, at a rate of an extra 1.5 per cent per year.

“It’s easy to see the demand that this places on the services and infrastructure council and other agencies provide,” Theelen says.

“It certainly underpins council’s recent decision to instigate the visitor levy referendum and our case to central government for alternative and innovative funding mechanisms.”

It is believed to be the first public referendum held by the council.