Council relieves accommodation sector’s rates burden

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Queenstown-Lakes accommodation and commercial properties are likely to be slugged less for a controversial new rate. 

Queenstown Lakes District Council yesterday (Tuesday) announced changes to its 10-year plan, following public submissions. 

Those changes are likely to be adopted by councillors on Friday. 

The council received 87 submissions to its proposed rates review and 291 altogether. 

The accommodation sector, in particular, was concerned about the impact of a new recreation and events rate designed to recognise costs imposed by visitors. 

The Tourism Industry Association calculated that the rates bill on a 250-room hotel would jump about $25,000 and the bill for a 85-room hotel would increase about $15,000. 

Following opposing submissions, the council has reduced the impact factor from 2.8 to 1.8 for accommodation and commercial ratepayers, finance manager Stewart Burns says – by contrast, the residential impact is 1.0. 

“The impact of the change to the recreation and events rate reduces the allocation to accommodation and commercial by 18.5 per cent and reflects a much fairer allocation of cost,” Burns says. 

Burns says the effect is a significant reduction in proposed rates increases for accommodation properties, a lesser reduction for commercial properties and modest increases for residential properties. 

The Queenstown council is also proposing an average 2.68 per cent rate increase for 2012/13, down from 2.81 per cent signalled in the draft 10-year plan. 

Rates movements range from an 8.8 per cent increase for mixed use accommodation in Queenstown through to a 6.84 per cent decrease for vacant land in Wanaka. 

Community submissions resulted in other funding changes including:
• Increasing a grant to the Wakatipu Youth Trust to $15,160
• Approving $10,000 for an Arrowtown lighting masterplan design
• Bringing forward $148,500 of capital funding for a Jack’s Point playground
• Bringing forward $67,906 of capital funding for an alternative water source for the Queenstown Events Centre
• Deferring $217,128 of capital funding for Gardens lighting improvements.