Ruapehu District Council has a proposed District Plan change that would see you paying $200 in additional rates on your short-term rental. Here’s our position on the issue.
The proposed changes
Under the existing rules, the Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO) is funded by a special rate applied to all rate payers. Council is proposing that this be replaced with a more general rating for Economic Development with a targeted fixed rate for all rate payers, plus a proportional rate applied to Commercial and Industrial rate payers. This will reduce the General Rate and shift more of the rate burden to Commercial / Industrial ratepayers.
One of Council’s objectives is for people who benefit from Council spending to contribute their fair share of the costs. So, Council are also proposing that short-term private visitor accommodation providers should pay a targeted rate of $200 per annum to help contribute toward the operational costs of the i-SITE network and Visit Ruapehu.
Why Council is proposing these changes
Some rate payers, e.g. in the farming community, questioned why they should be contributing to funding the Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO) when they were not involved in the tourism industry. With this move to replace the RTO rate with an Economic Development rate and introduce targeted rate on tourism operators Council are attempting to apply RTO costs on those who benefit from the work of the RTO.
Our position and submission on these changes
Tourism infrastructure funding has become a big issue - particularly in towns with small populations and large numbers of tourists.
However, we would much rather see a nationwide approach to solve the problem, rather than have levies collected piecemeal by different councils around the country.
We made the following key points in our submission:
This levy is a punitive additional rate on homeowners who already pay residential rates in order to enable any occupants of their home to benefit from local amenities;
A $200 levy will not raise significant funds towards tourism infrastructure. With approximately 500 short term rentals in the Ruapehu district, a $200 levy would raise a maximum of $100,000;
Targeting and collecting funds will be difficult for Council and barely be worth the $100,000 raised.