QLDC’s sport tax reversal

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Wakatipu sports clubs are relieved a tense face-off with officialdom has forced a bureaucratic backdown. 

“I didn’t want them to kill the community spirit behind these clubs,” Queenstown Tennis Club president Teresa Chapman says. 

She’s talking about a Queenstown Lakes District Council committee’s decision on Tuesday to substantially water down money-grabbing measures imposed on sports bodies and other users of council facilities. 

Rugby, golf, croquet and many other sports banded together to fight council. 

Queenstown Cricket Club president Ian Paterson is also smiling: “We’re quite pleased with the outcome. It’s a positive move.” 

The council has conceded on a proposed levy stinging clubs 7.5 per cent of food and beverage sales – now it’s only five per cent and kicks in after $300,000 turnover, exempting most clubs. 

Another concern of Chapman’s and her nearly 300 members was a move to charge sports coaches five per cent of income for using council land. Chapman’s club has two highly-rated coaches in ex-professional Lan Bale and former Otago number one Mark Milburn – who told council it would put them out of business. 

Milburn told a hearings panel last month: “I’ve struggled to sleep because I don’t know if I’m going to have a business anymore.” 

That levy’s now scrapped, conditional on clubs putting coaches on contracts approved by the council.
Chapman: “The coaches don’t make much money. 

“We’d lose our level of tennis expertise here.” 

Paterson’s 300-strong club is pleased to see ground fees eased, especially for juniors. His club dipped into reserves for ground fees last year after losing pokie grants. 

Despite this week’s backdown, various references in council’s amended policy indicate concessions may be only temporary. For example, clubrooms rented from council: “Council should over time seek to move towards full recovery of maintenance costs.” 

The battle with bureaucracy and other council moves against her club have been almost too much for Chapman.
“To tell you the truth, it’s just about made me give up tennis this year.”