Issue #958

LWB issue 958 front page

Huge challenge for councils

by Queenstown Lakes Mayor Glyn Lewers

The time has come. After almost a year of workshops, difficult conversations, close scrutiny and some incredibly tough decisions, a draft Long Term Plan for 2024-2034 is out for community consultation.

It’s a bittersweet moment for us. On one hand I’m incredibly proud of the work that’s been achieved against a challenging context of uncertainty and significant financial constraints. On the other I’m very aware that we’re proposing a historically average high rates increase of 15.6% for 2024-2025.

Councils deliver a huge range of infrastructure and dozens of services, including many that are not well known until something goes wrong. There are a few other ways we can earn money to fund what we do on behalf of the district (like user fees and charges, development contributions, investment dividends, etc.), but the fact remains that the way the current system is set up, rates contribute over half of our income. And everything our community needs costs more to deliver. That’s no secret to anyone here – the cost of living has risen for everyone.

As you might have seen in recent media coverage, rates rises are a challenge all councils and communities across the country are facing. Every single one will be conscious of the fact it can’t just keep taking extra rates from the same people, year on year. But we can’t ignore the costs in front of us and attempting to delay simply creates an even bigger problem in the future.

We know rates increases at the level proposed is not sustainable in the long term and that something’s got to give. There are more and more requirements being placed on councils but limited alternative ways to fund them. While government has signalled it will be introducing new funding tools, there is currently no certainty about what that might look like and when it will be available.

Our commitment to you is that we’ll continue to advocate for alternative funding levers and identify how to make best use of any emerging funding tools because, it is a priority to reduce the rates burden on our ratepayers.

In the meantime, please take some time to read the Long Term Plan consultation document, have a think about the proposals and make a submission. This is no tick box exercise, we need to know what you think, and your submissions will help shape the final plan and decisions made by the elected Council when it is time to adopt it.

I will personally be out in the community at engagement sessions all July – I hope to see many of you there. A schedule of events and full details can be found at

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