Earnslaw

Editorial

Facts not Fake News

June 4 2019 by Mayor Jim Boult

Much is often said about “fake news” these days and boy! there has been a lot of it around in the lead up to voting on the Visitor Levy referendum, so let’s stick to the facts.
No one disagrees that convincing Central Government to return a portion of the GST from tourism revenue to this district would be a great outcome. However, for good and proper reasons Central Government has been very clear that will never happen. If Government and the Treasury agreed to it, it would open the flood gates to similar requests from all over the country. The reality is that the GST take – along with other Government revenue, is required to pay for all the services Central Government provides such as healthcare, the state highway network and education. So in the absence of that, Government has supported our Council’s push for a visitor levy as a source of new funding.
We have one opportunity to get a sustainable funding model in place for the future. If we lose this opportunity I highly doubt that it will be available to us ever again. The door will be closed. Therefore, it is imperative that we all exercise our democratic right to vote, one way or the other, for a visitor levy through the current referendum.
Failure to adopt the present opportunity will leave Council compromised in its ability to provide the infrastructure required for the current resident and visitor population, let alone what may come in the future. In short, the choices before us are to put up with further congestion and diminishing levels of service – and all the negative effects which will flow from that, or face a very significant increase in rates, or vote in favour of a visitor levy.
I have also heard some are minded not to support the introduction of the proposed levy because it currently doesn’t address how freedom campers will contribute. We’ve been very clear that although the current proposal won’t apply, we are acutely aware of the need for this group of to make a contribution. I can assure you that council officers are working on appropriate mechanisms to ensure that happens alongside this proposed levy.
Whichever way you wish to vote, if you haven’t already voted please do so. For those who are rate payers, your papers have been mailed to the same address that your rates invoices go to. Please take into account the slower mail delivery times than what we are used to. If in doubt drop your votes into the Council Offices in Queenstown or Wanaka right up until noon on 5 June. For those who are not ratepayers but are permanent residents in the district you need to go to the Council offices, either in Wanaka or Queenstown, with proof of residency (such as a power bill), and cast a special vote. I implore you to do so.
I say again, this is our opportunity to adopt a model which will substantially change the future direction of our district.
Mayor Jim Boult

- Mayor Jim Boult
Comments
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  • Your Name Here

    I can’t help but wonder if that visitor levy will also apply to AirBnB-ers...
    Shotover Country - and most likely any new developments from now on - is full of houses that rent all rooms to AirBnB (the owner doesn’t even live there) making those actually unregulated hostels really... what’s the council doing about it?

    Don’t care if you live in a house and wanna rent the rooms to help pay the mortgage - AirBnB or otherwise - but if you buy it with the intent of making it a AirBnB hostel and not even live there then not only this should be illegal (fire regulations and the like) but there’s also the fact that a family should always get first dibs on that matter so where’s the regulation for that?

    Yeah I digressed and ranted quite a lot but the point remains: if all visitor beds are paying taxes so should AirBnB beds.

    Posted 05/06/2019 11:09am (3 months ago)

  • Ratepaying Yes Voter

    Personally I am annoyed with the scaremongering that is going on with certain facebook groups about this levy. These groups obviously represent accommodation providers in the district, and are unhappy that the levy will be required to be collected by them. While I understand why they are unhappy, I dont accept their reasoning why we should all vote no. Classic threats are:
    1. Tourists will stop coming here in high numbers
    2. We will all lose our jobs because of point 1
    3. The tourists will become freedom campers instead (although, that contradicts point 2)

    I think we all understand we are in a unique position here in Queenstown where our volume of tourists, massively outnumber the ratepayers who currently fund the local infrastructure. If central govt wont return the GST, then we have to find funding in an obvious way. This is why I support this levy.

    Voting NO is a vote against my own interests. Its a no-brainer really.

    Posted 05/06/2019 12:21pm (3 months ago)

  • Hippo Critical

    Hey Jim - Do you not think its a little hypocritical that you say the council is comprised to provide the level of service required for the infrastructure, yet still champion the idea of a multi-million dollar "community heart" for the QLDC offices? - Where is that money coming from? Why not ingest that into the required improvements in infrastructure?

    QLDC is more than not, a cloud-based business - meaning only a small aspect is required by the general public to access (parking tickets, forms, complaints etc) Nearly every general rate payer in the area is aghast that you're pushing for this new building while touting a visitor levy that punishes some of our local accommodation providers.

    Seems a little hypocritical to me to be honest,

    I voted 'NO"

    Posted 05/06/2019 3:49pm (3 months ago)

  • NZ Beermonster

    Makes perfect sense to me. I travel a lot and pretty much expect to pay a levy. Providing I see a benefit for it I don't see why not. I'd rather visit a place that is clean, tidy and with facilities in good working order rather than visit a place that is struggling to cope.

    And as another suggestion to help address the problem how about capping or reducing tourist numbers? I've recently been travelling to destinations where there are clearly too many and frankly it was a waste of time. I felt sorry for the people who live there. I hope we are not heading the same way.

    Posted 07/06/2019 1:40am (3 months ago)

  • Stop and Think

    I voted a BIG NO as have many of our long term rate paying acquaintances. Not because we don't think that visitors should assist with paying for the services they use, but rather as a protest at the disingenuous behavior of this Mayor and the follow the leader group of councilors.

    It no surprise to those that follow the wheeling and dealing of this and previous councils, that its the hard working middle income ratepayers bear the brunt and the cost of the council decision making.

    That the cause of much of the infrastructure and staff housing problems Queenstown face, are the direct result of the of new projects and creeping expansion of established ones,without any consideration by this and previous councils to the required supporting infrastructure or needs of those who while staffing those projects,.

    Its again, no surprise that many of the movers and shakers who benefit from this , are of those who who have made their pile by utilizing Crown or Council leasehold land (including the current Mayor) ,which they lease at below market rental and pay minimal rates and taxes or in the case of one major operator , who has in effect been handed over substantive government and council property they pay no taxes at all.

    That while crying crocodile tears about the congestion in central Queenstown, this same council approves the building of new Hotel/Apartments in the wider CBD with little or no on site parking and plans to build itself a great big council edifice adjacent to busiest road and on some of the most expensive real estate in Queenstown.

    That this council want to expended millions of dollars of ratepayers money to rejuvenate the CDB and surrounding roads ,You have to ask why, as most locals do not need and don't want to go any were near the CBD, The only beneficiary's will be the property owners who are the ones that through their greed and lack of council oversight have turned into the tourist hell hole it now is..

    The Mayor suggests there is no other way but to levy more rates on householders or through a bed tax but is strangely silent about targeted rates or development levy's on those who benefit most from the councils largess in allowing them have their merry way with what was once one of the best places in New Zealand to have work ,life balance.
    The question we have of our current Mayor and strangely silent group of Councillors ,who creep around behind "public excluded meetings"and then vote on block to approve many of the dubious projects we have to live by and support to the benefit of others , is why?

    Posted 07/06/2019 11:50am (3 months ago)