The Otago Chamber of Commerce says it could support a rates
hike that would result in Dunedin's commercial sector paying
Chamber chief executive John Christie yesterday praised the
Dunedin City Council's decision to abandon the idea of
creating a new targeted rate to help pay for the Forsyth Barr
Stadium's events fund.
Instead, deputy mayor Chris Staynes, chairman of the
council's rates and funding working party, suggested this
week the council could consider increasing the existing
tourism and economic development targeted rate as early as
The idea was yet to be formally considered by the council,
but, if it proceeded, would result in the city's entire
commercial sector paying higher rates.
Funds generated would be tagged for economic development and
city promotion initiatives, rather than going into the
general funding pool.
Mr Christie told the Otago Daily Times the council's
decision to abandon a new targeted rate was a ''very sensible
retraction'' by the council.
Those within the business community he had spoken to agreed
with Cr Staynes' conclusion the idea was ''unworkable'',
because of the difficulty identifying which businesses
benefited from the stadium and which did not, Mr Christie
''I think common sense has prevailed.''
The chamber generally favoured targeted rates, where those
that benefited from a sector or a project helped pay for it,
It also meant the council had to be able to show it had used
the money it collected for the intended purpose.
''I see that as a good discipline for council,'' he said.
''I think it's a clever model because you can ring-fence how
those funds are going to be used. This isn't about council
just collecting more rates. It's collecting it for a specific
''If you engage with businesses around what that purpose is
and what the benefits are, I think businesses will be quite
willing to have that discussion with council.''
However, support would also depend on the size of any
increase, and businesses continued to face tough economic
times and were conscious of any new cost, he said.
''We'd want to be discussing that with council well before it
goes out for public consultation.
''I don't think we would want to anticipate large increases
in rates for the commercial sector.
''I don't think they would welcome that ... and I don't think
council is proposing that yet,'' he said.