Home business rates controversial



CLUTHA ratepayers have had mixed reactions to proposed changes to rates on home businesses.

The Clutha District Council met in Balclutha last Thursday to discuss details of its latest annual plan.

Public consultation on the plan began on Monday.

Among items discussed was a proposed update to the council’s policy on secondary, separately used or inhabited part of a rating unit (SUIP) rates.

SUIPs became a matter of controversy in August last year, after several ratepayers running home businesses complained to the council about a doubling of their total rates due to the existing policy.

The changes proposed would allow a 50% remission for some home businesses’ secondary units, on the uniform annual general charge (UAGC), water supply targeted rate and wastewater targeted rate.

Balclutha resident Adrienne Scott, who lets a studio flat at her home, complained to the council last year after her total rates increased by $2000 due to the let qualifying as a SUIP.

Reacting to the proposed changes, she said she was a ‘‘little dismayed’’.

‘‘I am certainly encouraged by the detailed definition of a SUIP with examples of guidance notes to be used in identifying additional SUIPs.

‘‘However, I am a little dismayed at the application of the remission policy, which reads well, but is actually minor when applied.

‘‘While it states a 50% remission, this is only on a few rating elements and ends up as approximately a 10% reduction on the total “double rate” which will barely help out those still affected by Covid . . .’’

Lawrence home business Bean Jazzed Coffee & Kitchen owner›operators Leanna and Nick Salt said although they awaited clarification on some aspects of the final policy, they were happy with the changes.

‘‘The charges they have addressed are the ones we were most concerned about so we would be happy with this outcome. . ,’’ Mrs Salt said.

She said their issue had not been with paying an additional rate toreflect business use, but with the level of that rate as afull additional charge, despite the business being in their home.

‘‘We recognise that there should be some additional charge, but not what is being charged at the present time.’’

Councillors at last week’s meeting approved the new policy for consultation.

Presenting the policy for discussion, council chief executive Steve Hill said it was complex, but achieved its aims.

‘‘We’ve worked through all the iterations and tried to test it for the problem areas, and had it checked legally. It’s complex, but it achieves what councillors were looking to achieve.’’

Councillor Mel Foster said, despite reading the new guidelines several times, she had still remained confused asto how those guidelines would be applied to certain types of properties.

Mr Hill said a six›step process had been formulated that would allow staff to ascertain whether properties were liable for a SUIP and, if so, whether they would be eligible for the available remissions.

However, he acknowledged the policy could be simplified for ratepayers.

‘‘Clearly from a ratepayer perspective, it’s not yet as clear as it might be. We’ll provide some examples for ratepayers to illustrate how it works and make those available in a brochure.’’

Public consultation will end on April 21, the finalised annual plan to be adopted on June 23.