Fee-plan reaction mixed

A proposed new fees structure for the use of facilities managed by the Queenstown Lakes District Council is getting a mixed reception.

The draft community facility funding policy is about to be released for public consultation.

While the initial response is largely positive, not everyone is happy with it.

The proposal deals with leases for council-owned land by, for example, sports clubs, as well as with facility hire for all the council's sports and community facilities.

One of the components of the policy is a fixed structure for discounts, which will offer free use of facilities for sport and events for youth participants under the age of 16.

Charitable events would qualify for discounts between 50% and 75% depending on the kind of event and the venue used.

QLDC community services manager Paul Wilson has already met some sports clubs and community groups for initial consultation.

He told the community services committee the aim of the proposal was to get more consistency to the council's fees, while striking a balance between user payment and ratepayer funding of community activities.

The Wakatipu Sports User Group is one of the groups which have met Mr Wilson.

It is headed by Craig [Ferg] Ferguson, Merve Aoake and Simon Spark, who have all been actively involved with a range of sports clubs in the region.

"I see the proposal as a fair document, but acknowledge that it will not please everyone.

"Our group has mostly been pushing the youth sports issues, so we are very happy to see youth sports getting free use of facilities.

"But I see adult sports will be disadvantaged, so it will not be a completely level playing field," Mr Ferguson said.

Some community groups will benefit from the new discount structure, but others will be hit by an increase in fees, or by the proposed commission on sales of, for example, food and beverage at commercial events.

One of the clubs which could be worse off under the proposal is Arrowtown Bowling Club.

The club currently pays an annual rental of $52 for use of council land.

Under the new structure, it would pay an annual rental of $524.

"I was unaware of the new figures, and our club has not been consulted or informed at all," Arrowtown Bowling Club president John Polson said.

"We will definitely be opposing this proposal strongly."

Lakes Leisure, which is responsible for the administration of community facilities in the region, told QLDC's community services committee the discounts of the proposal could cost $92,000-$129,000 in lost revenue, which would have to be covered by ratepayers.

Yet Lakes Leisure facilities general manager Cam Sheppard was mostly positive about the proposal.

"This will make the charging of fees easier for everyone involved, as there will be clarity and consistency to who gets which discount.

"It is then up to the council to decide who ultimately pays for the subsidy.

"The community is our client, so we will be looking at the response to this proposal with great interest, and then make our own submission."

• The draft community facility funding policy is open for consultation and submissions until February 28, 2010.


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