A proposal that will introduce the next best thing to a bed tax in the Queenstown Lakes District was received for consultation by the Council this week.
A public Rates and Funding Review started in June last year with a goal to consult on the outcomes in the 10-Year Plan due for consultation, next month.
The review focussed on how rates were allocated and who pays what share.
“An important part of this was to understand what impact the 2.8 million visitors to our community annually have on our costs,” QLDC deputy chief executive and general manager finance Stewart Burns said.
More importantly the review had considered how Council could best recover the costs.
“The Council has tested the idea of a bed tax in the past with Central Government, which is reluctant to legislate for one. We have also listened to our community which has been vocal in the need to fairly apportion cost to visitors,” Mr Burns said.
Having considered several options, the working party concluded the next best thing was to use a series of targeted rates with the aim of recovering the impact of costs associated with visitors.
“To do this in a fair and transparent way, Council is looking to include a visitor cost in the rates of businesses in a region that benefits from tourism. In this way, Council will indirectly recover visitor costs in the rates charged to local businesses,” Mr Burns said.
It was not a new concept for the district as there had already been an element of indirect recovery in the rates charged for the last 20-years.
“What has changed is the level of analysis giving complete transparency within the new proposals, allowing business to clearly apportion cost,” he said.
For example the new recreation and events rate which will recover the costs associated with parks, reserves, trails, walkways, public toilets and events is designed to contribute around 50 cents per day from each visitor.
The focus of the review has been around making the general rate more understandable by breaking it down into a series of targeted rates. The new rates proposed are:
• Recreation and Events Rate (as outlined)
• Governance Rate
• Regulatory Rate
• Sports Halls and Libraries Charge
It’s important that businesses first understand the concepts and then give Council feedback on the proposal.
More detail on the rates review and its implications will be contained in the draft 10-Year Plan, which will be available from 7 April, 2012. Council would develop a question and answer forum on its website specific to the rates issue. Meanwhile people could email questions to the Council firstname.lastname@example.org, which it would include.
The average rate increase in the 2012 draft 10-Year Plan was 2.8% after allowing for growth. As an average some people would find their rates increases higher than the average and others lower. The 10-Year Plan would contain an indicative rates table by location and type.
“This was not part of the rates review but I think it is an important part of any consideration of rates issues,” Mr Burns said.
For further information please contact Stewart Burns 03 441 0499