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