Council defends hike in fees

The Waitaki District Council has defended a substantial increase in its building-consent fees, despite a concern it could hinder development during the economic recession.

From November 23, the fees will rise 25% to cover increased costs, which the council has been carrying most of this year, resulting in a $100,000 deficit in its building fees account.

It has a "user pays" policy for recovering building fee costs, applicants paying 75% and rates 25%.

The decision to increase fees has been delegated to the chief executive, Michael Ross, who told the council on Tuesday why the rise was necessary.

However, Cr Helen Stead said it was not a decision she would approve under the present economic conditions.

Increasing the fees could chase off prospective developers, she said.

Cr Struan Munro said the council had no option but to raise fees, asking Cr Stead if she was happy for increased costs "to land on the ratepayer".

Mr Ross said the council could have increased fees a year ago, but it decided not to do so.

Since then, changes in the Building Act had increased the council's workload and costs, and consent applications had declined.

Mr Ross produced a comparison of average building fees.

Waitaki's average was $744, compared with Gore at $559, Invercargill $580, Clutha $578, Hurunui $798, Selwyn $865, Mackenzie $867, Waimate $889, Queenstown Lakes $1036, Dunedin $1193, Christchurch $1238 and Central Otago $1427.


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