DCC comes out against food business levy

Photo: ODT Files
Photo: ODT Files
The Dunedin City Council wants no part in any imposition of a levy on food businesses the government might bring in to bolster food safety.

The council labelled the proposed scheme inequitable and said this would introduce "an additional level of bureaucracy".

Being asked to collect such a levy would not go down well with the council, either.

"This would impose additional financial and administrative burdens on councils, compounding the existing pressures facing the local government sector and, in turn, their ratepayers," it said.

A draft submission from the council to the Ministry for Primary Industries was approved this week.

The ministry proposes "maintaining and expanding" the service it provides to support a robust food safety system.

It envisages food businesses and importers would chip in through levies.

The levy for domestic food businesses would be phased in over three years, starting at $57.50 per site from July next year, then $86.25 in 2026-27 and $115 from 2027-28 on.

The council’s submission noted a large, high-turnover business such as a supermarket would pay the same levy as a small, low-turnover business, such as a dairy.

Cr Sophie Barker doubted the proposal would achieve stated intentions of strengthening the operating environment for New Zealand food businesses to make it "easier to operate within" and to reduce risks from food.

Cr Carmen Houlahan said the proposal did not align well with a government wanting to work positively with businesses.

It would increase costs for many businesses that had a tough time through the Covid-19 pandemic, she said.

Cr Houlahan was also opposed to central government pushing costs on to councils.

"Take your costs away and carry your own debt," she said.