Yarrow Stadium levy increase angers Taranaki landlords and farmers

Thursday 15 August

Taranaki landlords and farmers with staff houses are unhappy they're paying multiple levies for the $50 million rebuild of Yarrow Stadium.

A landlord, who asked not to be named, supplied Stuff  with a copy of a rates bill for a Waitara commercial property with three tenants.

Following the Taranaki Regional Council's (TRC) decision the owner is being charged $517.50 because there are three separate $172.50 Yarrow Stadium commercial and industrial targeted rate charges, plus $27 for the Yarrow Stadium land value targeted rate.

The extra fee added to the pressure on retail in the three districts of the province, Taranaki Chamber of Commerce chief executive Arun Chaudhari said. 

"Members have been commenting since they started getting their bills, especially landlords, those who have a few tenants and they have to pay per tenancy.

"The CBDs are struggling quite a bit and people are being hit with another rate. It doesn't help," he said.

Some landlords might be able to pass the increased cost on to their tenants, but many would not. 

"Whether or not it's the landlord or the tenant that pays it, it's still an added cost for the region."

Central Taranaki farmer Deborah Clough was displeased to discover that houses on farms used by staff were being charged the same levy as those rented out by landlords as a business.

"We own a farm at Maata where there are three houses for staff on the property so I am charged three times $54.40," she said. 

"And we live on a run-off at Pukengahu which we lease from our son, so we are also charged another $54.40 for the house we live in."

She was unhappy with the TRC's decision to wait to review the Yarrow stadium policy until during the preparation of the 2021/2031 Long-Term Plan.

"I feel this is vastly unfair and I really don't think much thought was put into the funding strategy."

In May the TRC voted, after a long consultation, to spend $50 million repairing and upgrading the stadium after it was left largely unusable following the discovery its main stands were earthquake prone. 

A new increased annual levy to pay for the project applies to all properties in Taranaki, regardless of whether they are residential, farmland or industrial and commercial.

Residential, smallholding and farm ratepayers in New Plymouth district now pay a flat $87.40 on each property, while commercial and industrial ratepayers are being levied by land value plus a $150 plus GST fixed charge. 

Those in Stratford and South Taranaki pay $58.65, including GST.

Previously, the stadium levy was part of a Universal Annual General Charge (UAGC) collected by the three district councils from their residents on behalf of the TRC.

TRC director of corporate services Mike Nield told Stuff in an August 5 story about South Taranaki farmer Jeff Ward, who is unhappy he has to pay separate levies for each run off he owns, that the council would look at its options regarding the levy, but this would not occur for some time.

"The next opportunity to review the Yarrow Stadium funding policy is, as already agreed by the Council, during the preparation of the 2021/2031 Long-Term Plan."

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