Rodney Councillor Greg Sayers is lending his voice to a number of Auckland accommodation providers unhappy with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff’s controversial “pillow tax”.
The opposition comes following Goff’s proposal to raise a targeted $27.8 million for tourism promotion and events.
The money would come from Auckland accommodation providers, some of whom would face rates increases of up to 250 per cent.
The proposed target has been strongly opposed by the hotel and hospitality industry, but Goff says it’s only fair that beneficiaries of the marketing put into Auckland should contribute more towards the cost.
Goff has now revised his proposal to exclude Rodney and raise $13.7 million from the city hotels and accommodation providers. The balance of the money, which funds the visitor spending by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) will come from the council’s general rates.
“Even though I achieved Rodney being excluded it is still grossly unfair for Council to introduce a property tax saying it is a user pays bed tax. Operators can’t pass this massive rates increase onto customers and it will send them broke,” says Sayers.
Sayers says he is concerned the Mayor is camouflaging the property tax as a bed tax – a surcharge added onto the customer’s bill as a percentage of the room charge.
Chief executive of Tourism Industry Aotearoa Chris Roberts disagrees that property tax can be passed onto customers, and is preparing a legal challenge should the vote be voted in.
“The targeted rate is not a bed tax or visitor levy,” Roberts said.
“The rate cannot simply be passed on to the guest.”
Sayers believes the discussion raises wider issues about Auckland Council spending.
“Those supporting the Mayor say that costs are under control but instead have decided to think of a new way to raise more money by increasing rates rather than aggressively attacking Council’s inherent waste and overspending.”
– Rodney Times