editorial 762


One hundred and fifty-one million bucks for an upgrade!!

August 3 2020 by Scott Stevens

One hundred and fifty-one million bucks for an upgrade!!

One hundred and fifty-one million bucks. Did I read that right? $151 million?

Queenstown’s council is considering spending $7.55m a year for the next 20 years to upgrade Queenstown Events Centre. Hopefully some of that will be offset by Central Government shovel-ready funding and the initial commitment would be $69m over 10 years, but jeez, that is a lot of money for an upgrade, isn’t it? Wanaka won’t miss out either. The new Wanaka Recreation Centre is inline for $72m of upgrades over the next two decades.

It’s a little unclear from the initial council report what the $151 million will pay for overall. Does it include the cost of relocating the Frankton Golf Course, ie. building another course down on the Shotover Delta? Does it include the proposed Emergency Precinct?

More detail will be provided when the plans go out to public consultation. But the report says in the first three years, there’ll be new artificial turf pitches, wastewater heat recovery system, new indoor multi-use courts, squash courts, indoor cricket pitches, three new sports field developments, public roads and carparking, new health and wellbeing facility, clubrooms, new outdoor netball and tennis courts, and maintenance yard works. Presumably, the swimming pool extension, which will hopefully correct the mistake of building a 25-metre lap pool rather than a competition / training-sized 50m, will follow soon after.

You can bet much of the debate during the public consultation will be around whether there are enough car parks, but shouldn’t the main focus be on the costs and whether we’re getting value for money. Are we paying too much for projects, too much to consultants, to specialists and to builders? When did everything get so expensive and can we actually afford this?

The original Queenstown Events Centre, with the John Davies Oval, opened in 1997 and can’t have cost much more than $5 million, at a guess. The Alpine Aqualand extension in 2008 cost $18 million. Ok, so last year it cost an extra $2.6 million to repair the ceiling and install one that wouldn’t drop down on swimmers’ heads, and the cricket oval needed a $640,000 turf upgrade in 2017, but generally the total seems value for money for what they provides the community.

I understand the need to think big when Central Government is loosening the purse strings. I also welcome the $85m Jacinda cash splash on the bypass and downtown, the $90m for roading projects on Ladies Mile and around Frankton announced in January, too. But it just seems Covid-19 has made us immune to the value of money. You could blame the international banks bailout post GFC too. Every day, there’s another announcement about tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer and / or ratepayer money.
Maybe a million bucks just isn’t what it used to be, but it does seem there are no strings on the purse anymore. There’s not even a purse, just a credit card we’re prepared to max out forever.

Paul Taylor - paul@qmg.co.nz

- Scott Stevens
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  • Over the hills and far away.

    Surely due to financial effects of Covid on ratepayers and that there will be a levelling of new residents of visitors,it beggars belief that the council is proposing to place this burden on us.
    The only explantion I can suggest is that this is all part of the councils ponzi scheme to enable its managment team and consultant mates to continue in well paid employment and provide further opportunities for the big end of town to enrich themselfs, while as usual the mum and dad ratepayers will be left to pick up the tab.

    Posted 03/08/2020 5:57pm (2 months ago)