Convention centre rates plan targets commercial properties

Adam Feeley.
Adam Feeley.
Commercial properties in central Queenstown could pay more in rates and Wanaka homeowners could pay the least if a recommended rating model for the $55.5 million Queenstown Convention Centre is approved.

The recommended model is one of three options for allocating costs explored in a new feasibility and ratings impact analysis, which will be tabled at a council meeting in Wanaka on Thursday.

Council chief executive Adam Feeley yesterday announced the findings of the report, which gave ''the most conservative possible picture of the financial implications of the convention centre''.

Capital costs had been revised and $30.9 million is now a ''base case'' for the council's share of the centre.

The recommended funding model calls for the greatest percentage of centre costs to be met by those businesses likely to benefit the most from the centre.

Under the proposed model, 85% of ratepayers would face a rates increase of 0-3% (in dollar terms about $10-$130 a year), while 2.5% of ratepayers would face increases of 15%-26%.

''While a convention centre is likely to be a positive for the district as a whole in terms of economic benefit, the most direct beneficiaries of it are targeted for the most significant contribution to the cost of its development and operation,'' Mr Feeley said of the recommended option.

''We have adopted a negative scenario for financial performance, and have not factored in the very significant revenue which will be generated from the sale or development from the remaining land at the Lakeview site.

''Our advice is that the overall financial performance could be considerably better, and consequently the ratings impact could be less. However, council has signalled that it wishes to present a `warts and all' picture of the potential financial performance of a convention centre.''

The updated feasibility report by Horwath HTL Ltd suggests how the centre could perform financially.

The most optimistic scenario shows it generating a $1.6 million operating surplus; the most pessimistic a $1.2 million operating deficit.

The ''most likely'' result suggests a centre would break even in its third year and produce operating surpluses of about $0.75 million a year by year five.

If the council adopts the report's recommendations, information will be published in this year's draft annual plan, before Easter.

The council will then ask Lakes district ratepayers whether to proceed with the project.

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