Calls to freeze commercial rates in Tauranga

Council is proposing to lease administration space in a new building at 90 Devonport Road.

Tauranga City commissioners are inviting the Taxpayers Union to have its say on commercial rates from May 7.

The draft Long Term Plan will be open for public consultation from this date and will include the proposed increase in commercial rates for the city.

The Taxpayers Union is calling for commissioners to freeze commercial rates “in support of rejuvenating its CBD”.

“Tauranga businesses are struggling to keep their doors open in the wake of multiple lockdowns and a lack of cruise ship tourists, with many shops having closed down or relocated,” says Union spokesperson Louis Houlbrooke.

“If the Council is serious about making the CBD more attractive and welcoming for visitors, it should be freezing commercial rates so that customers actually have shops to return to. Businesses that cannot stay afloat due to rate hikes will simply continue to shut their doors or move elsewhere.

“A rates freeze is the prudent response to the economic pressures facing Tauranga businesses.”

Commissioner Stephen Selwood says Tauranga has had the lowest commercial rates of any major metropolitan centre in New Zealand for many years.

He says this has obviously not had a beneficial effect on the town centre.

“To reinvigorate the CBD, we need to invest and that can’t happen without an increase in revenue, including rates revenue.

“The work completed on Wharf Street shows what can be achieved by targeted investment.”

The newly redeveloped Wharf Street.

Selwood says feedback to date from the business community on the investment plans included in the council’s draft long-term plan has been very positive.

“Business people accept the need to support investment, and also seem to accept that they will need to contribute their fair share.

“There are already a number of positive developments underway, including significant investments by Farmers, Waikato University and the new Craigs building on Devonport Road.”

The Council is also proposing to lease administration space in a new building at 90 Devonport Road and develop a cultural hub on the site of the existing building on Willow Street.

The site for a planned cultural hub on Willow Street. File photo/SunLive.

“All of this work provides the certainty and confidence needed to stimulate private investment, which will help to enable a vibrant CBD and engender pride in the city’s future,” says Selwood.

Also included in the draft LTP is a proposal to increase the current commercial differential from 1.2 to 1.6, which means a commercial ratepayer would pay $1.60 for every $1 paid by a residential property owner, for a property of the same value.

It’s worth noting that that will still be lower than the differential rates applying in all of the country’s other major cities, says Selwood.

“And when you factor in GST and tax deductibility, it means that businesses will actually pay about the same rates as residents, for properties of the same value.”

Community consultation on the draft LTP will begin on May 7.

“We would encourage the Taxpayers’ Union and anyone else with and interest in the city’s future to make a submission setting out their views, so that we have the widest possible input to consider when we make our final decisions,” says Selwood.

“To be absolutely clear though, anyone who wants rates frozen is essentially saying they don’t want progress, and that’s certainly not the message we’re getting in our conversations with people throughout the city.”

 




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8 Comments

JimR

Posted on 14-04-2021 14:05 | By Wundrin

I too was wondering what a "cultural hub" is, but I’m picking it has nothing to do with cheese or yogurt. More likely to be a euphemism for "museum", or a continuation of moves to further pander to one particular demographic. Whatever, you can bet it will cost ratepayers dearly.

Private Money

Posted on 13-04-2021 17:56 | By gincat

Private money took shoppers away from the CBD, Its private money that need to attract them back. No ratepayer money helped developed The Lake’s ,Bay Fair etc. Under the capitalist system, empty building values should be declining to a level that a new owner can take up and rejuvenate their investment. Why should ratepayers chip in.

Hmmm

Posted on 13-04-2021 17:03 | By Let's get real

As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to commercial property it should be hands off and let the market set the rent. What council COULD do to revitalise Devonport Rd shopping, would be to forget about the stupidity of reducing traffic flow along Cameron Rd and make Devonport Rd and Grey St pedestrian precincts allowing portable stalls to be established and free parking on "Market" days. The inconvenience to traffic would be minimal and it might just establish an outdoor Mall experience and attract the bigger retailers into a car free pedestrian environment which might bring more visitors into a market environment. I suggest that well thought out pedestrian areas and one way systems could work extremely well for a small city like ours, built around a harbour. Into town along Cameron Rd and out of town along Devonport Rd, from Elizabeth St (One way only).

Cheek

Posted on 13-04-2021 15:18 | By Slim Shady

Waiknot is 100% correct. I bet the likes of Barkers are not complaining about the increase in foot traffic and revenue at Bayfair and The Crossing. Increase the commercial Rates at the places to offset it. And then reduce or freeze my Rates while you’re at it because if Rates are going to be calculated based on revenue, my revenue has gone down.

The union is wrong, and here is proof

Posted on 13-04-2021 12:38 | By nerak

The following from CEO of Barkers “Totally a foot traffic thing it has dried up, completely dried up,” he explains, suggesting the issue has been ongoing well before the Covid-19 pandemic. “The city has got quieter and quieter as tenants have left. We have really been struggling for over a year now with getting foot traffic through the door." Maybe the commissioners should spend more of our rates money and do a junket to Whakatane to see how it’s really done. Not on a Sunday though, it’s jam packed. All/any weekdays busy, positive and pumping too.

Meet the market

Posted on 13-04-2021 12:35 | By waiknot

Land lords put rents up in the good times, now they need to reduce there rental charge. We the ratepayers do not need to subside them.

Same old comment

Posted on 13-04-2021 12:26 | By nerak

“We would encourage the Taxpayers’ Union and anyone else with and interest in the city’s future to make a submission setting out their views, so that we have the widest possible input to consider when we make our final decisions,” says Selwood. Could be attributed to certain others at TCC. Actually means ’we have already made up our minds’. The shame is, these commissioners are raking it off all us ratepayers, to a much higher degree.

JimR

Posted on 13-04-2021 11:58 | By JRWelcomeBay

What on earth is a ’cultural hub’?

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