New rate will help heritage B&B operators

Dunedin city councillors yesterday threw their support behind new initiatives designed to ease the financial burden on the city's heritage bed and breakfast operators.

They voted in favour of a new "heritage residential B&B" rates category. The new category would be available for heritage B&B operators who were switched to commercial rates following assessments by Quotable Value staff last year. In some cases, rates bills tripled as a result.

A separate rates relief fund for 2011-12 - totalling $20,000 - would be established, and applications considered from operators not qualifying for the new rates category but meeting the fund's criteria, councillors decided.

Both moves were designed to ease the pressure on owners of heritage properties used for small-scale B&Bs which often drew on council services at the same level as residential properties, deputy mayor Cr Chris Staynes told yesterday's meeting.

Cr Staynes - also chairman of the council's rates and funding working party - said the support recognised the value of the properties to the city's heritage and would help ensure their continued survival.

The new rates category would be set at 1.75 times the residential rate, but with charges for other services - such as kerbside collection - retained at residential levels, he said.

The proposal was a compromise, but was supported by two B&B operators reassessed as commercial he had spoken to, Cr Staynes said.

The $20,000 rates relief fund for 2011-12 would be drawn from the council-funded Dunedin Heritage Fund, which was jointly administered by council and New Zealand Historic Places Trust representatives.

The future of the fund beyond 2011-12 would be clarified by a draft policy to be presented to the next council meeting on June 27, when the council's draft annual plan was finally approved.

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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