Queenstown Lakes District Councillors will be asked to consider deferring the adoption of the Long Term Plan 2024-2034 (LTP) by up to three months, at its full Council meeting on Thursday.
QLDC General Manager Corporate Services Meaghan Miller said the proposal to defer followed confirmation of the National Government’s intentions to repeal existing three water service delivery legislation.
“On 14 December 2023, the Minister of Local Government wrote to councils across the motu confirming the government’s intention and issuing a directive to include planning and funding for three water service delivery for the full ten-year timeframe of an LTP.”
“Like other local authorities, we were in the final stages of preparing the draft LTP within the current legislation set out by the former Labour government, which only expected councils to plan and fund three waters service delivery for years one and two.”
“It was no secret the coalition Government parties all had intentions to repeal this approach to water service delivery if elected to office. Our property and infrastructure team had been developing a ‘shadow plan’ of three water capital projects for years 3-10 of the LTP in parallel, acknowledging there would be further detailed work required if or when these were to be added back in,” Ms Miller said.
The December direction acknowledged that councils across Aotearoa New Zealand would have challenges with the timing of the change in approach and provided options to support the completion of LTPs.
Ms Miller said the most appropriate available option for the district, like many others, was to extend the statutory deadline for adopting the 2024-2034 LTP by three months.
“While deferring the plan does have several operational implications, it does allow us the necessary time to complete the additional work required to plan for water service delivery throughout the full ten year period, along with considering potential alternative funding options and affordability for the community,” she said.
“Three waters makes up a significant portion of overall Council expenditure and service delivery so like every other Council across the country, we will be having some challenging conversations around investment prioritisation and larger than expected rates increases,” she said.
If approved on Thursday, the deferral has the following implications:
- Timeframes: It is proposed the LTP is adopted by 19 September 2024. Public consultation is planned to occur between 28 June – 29 July 2024.
- User Fees and Charges: Many of the Council’s user fees and charges must be reviewed and adopted within each financial year. Consultation on these will occur separately in April.
- Community grants: Community grants will be run as a separate process which is expected to happen in April.
- Development Contributions: Consultation on the Development Contributions Policy will happen at the same time as the LTP.
- Deferral of Annual Report 2023-2024: Deferring the LTP will have a flow on effect, meaning the Annual Report 2023-2024 will be adopted no later than 31 December 2024.
If approved, more details including FAQs and specific timeframes for community grant applications will be published on the QLDC website and shared widely.