9 May 2017

Akl hotel rate hike legality queried

1:33 pm on 9 May 2017

The legality of a proposed doubling of rates on central Auckland hotels is being questioned by a former regional council chief.

The Hilton Hotel in Auckland with the Sky Tower in the background.

Phil Goff's rates hike on accommodation providers has been opposed by the hospitality sector. Photo: 123RF

The $18 million idea to get hotels to fund Auckland's major events and tourism promotion, is the biggest proposal from mayor Phil Goff in next month's council budget.

Mr Goff tweaked his plan last week, exempting accommodation in the outer suburbs, and cheaper categories such as backpackers and campgrounds.

Peter Winder, who was chief executive of the former Auckland Regional Council, and advisor to some opponents of the rate, said the tweaks have made it more likely to be outside the Local Government Act requirements.

He said by law, any rate must be reasonable, and loading all of the costs onto a sector that got only 10 percent of tourism spending was not reasonable.

Mr Winder said there are anomalies such as some categories of accommodation being exempt, and the creation of three geographical zones, with the outermost also exempt, creating a new distortion.

"The largest event that's [ratepayer] funded in Auckland is the V8s at Pukekohe, and yet magically, all those accommodation businesses [in Franklin] now fall outside the framework, so how does that pass the reasonableness test."

He said Mr Goff should scrap the idea.

The mayor had previously told RNZ that he first sought legal advice on the proposal, and that has been advised the rate was legitimate.

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