South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] will be asking the community for feedback on a wide-ranging review of the rating system.
Up for debate is a proposed new charge for Airbnb owners.
At an extraordinary council meeting on Wednesday [13 September], SWDC resolved to start the consultation process.
The community will be asked for their view on questions including remission of rates, whether capital value or land value should be used to set general rates, who pays for urban footpaths and rural roads, and whether short-term accommodation providers should make an additional rates contribution.
The proposed question for consultation would be whether dwellings used for short-term accommodation like Airbnb and Bookabach should contribute to the economic development rate.
Supporting documentation put before the meeting said tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries in South Wairarapa and has an impact on the wellbeing of our communities.
“To support tourism in the district, council has an economic development targeted rate that promotes the region, its activities, and events currently paid for by commercial and industrial properties.
“Dwellings used for casual accommodation also benefit from the investment in economic development,” it noted.
SWDC also proposes a change from rating properties on capital value instead of land value.
“Council considers capital value represents a better correlation to ability to pay than land value,” a supporting document said.
The proposals also include a change to the way footpaths are funded to recognise that urban people have 90 per cent of the benefit of footpaths and 10 per cent of the district as a whole.
The rural road reserve currently funded 100 per cent by rural ratepayers is proposed to change to an infrastructure emergency resilience fund.
“This change recognises that rural roads have benefits for the whole community through tourism, recreation, and farming. Currently, the Rural Road Reserve is funded by rural ratepayers to cover emergency road repairs and has been used up,” the document said.
The proposed new fund would be collected from all ratepayers through a targeted rate.
A report tabled at the meeting said consultation with the community is proposed to start this week and run between September 15 and October 15. Hearings and deliberations will follow on 26 October, ahead of final recommendations to the council.
The resolution to proceed with the review was passed unanimously. Six of the council’s 10 members were present, with councillors Olds, Ellims, McAulay, and Maynard sending apologies.
The supporting report said councillors have been working for some time to understand their legal and financial responsibilities and the levers available for fair distribution of rates.
“This included a commitment from the previous council to conduct a ‘first principles rating review’… and has been insisted by some sectors of the community,” the report said.
“The Revenue and Finance Policy puts in place the structure for how rates are set. To conduct a review of this nature has required a considerable amount of work and commitment that the review will genuinely address long standing quirks in the rating model.” – NZLDR
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