ORC to consider cutting stadium rates bill

Wayne Scott.
Wayne Scott.
The Otago Regional Council will consider cutting Forsyth Barr Stadium's estimated rates bill by more than half to $74,900 at its meeting tomorrow.

The move follows the Dunedin City Council's decision earlier this year to drop its stadium rates bill from $2 million a year to a more manageable $134,000.

At the time, the company which runs the stadium, Dunedin Venues Management Ltd (DVML), had a budget of only $200,000 to pay both city and regional council rates.

If the regional council accepts the report to be considered at a finance and corporate meeting, it will be likely DVML would face a $208,900 combined rates bill for 2012-13.

Regional council finance and corporate director Wayne Scott said in the report the inclusion of the stadium and associated University of Otago buildings was of "extreme importance" to the council in its rates-setting process, given the high capital value of the facilities.

While the council had to consider the stadium rates before levying next year's rates on June 19, the facilities were yet to be included on the valuation roll, although the council had been advised they would be, he said.

"It is frustrating that the task of confirmation of the roll values has made it necessary to give considerations based on assumptions at this late stage."

The council had been advised the facilities would be categorised into four rating categories - the stadium, parking and layout with a capital value of $153 million able to be rated, two non-rateable campus zones valued at $47 million and the high performance centre valued at $5 million, of which 50% could be rated.

"Emphasis is made that these values are yet to be confirmed."

Based on those figures, the stadium would be facing a $156,000 rates bill, made up of $14,000 of general rates, $8000 for the stadium rate, $28,000 for transport, $1500 for river management and $105,000 for Dunedin urban flood protection.

Given the estimated rating impact, it was appropriate to consider the "reasonableness" of the rating, Mr Scott said.

It was considered the river management rate, stadium rate and transport rate were all "not unreasonable" given the stadium's scale, impact and the increase in bus services to the area.

However, the stadium was in the direct benefit area of the Dunedin urban flood protection zone, which included a high proportion of non-rate-able properties and used a capital value rating base.

"The unique inclusion of the high capital value stadium would result in a rate bill estimated at $105,000, or 19% of the total direct beneficiary area for that scheme."

It would mean reducing the total of all current ratepayers' contributions by the 19% paid by the stadium, he said.

"Given the nature of the scheme protection, the area of the scheme and the stadium's situation within it, it is suggested the rating outcome is unreasonable."

While any rating relief was subjective, staff had debated various options before deciding 4% of the direct area rates or $23,400 would be a "reasonable proposition", Mr Scott said.

That would bring the total rates bill to $74,900.

He was recommending to the council that it confirm the rating assumptions made but if the values or rateability was "markedly different from the assumptions or on the valuations roll", they would not be actioned and another report would be prepared for the June meeting.

rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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