Holiday park slams toilet pan charges

By John Cousins

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A holiday park paying toilet pan taxes of nearly $13,000 a year says it is being unfairly treated by the Western Bay of Plenty District Council.

Omokoroa Thermal Holiday Park argued that the number of pans did not accurately reflect its usage of the sewerage system.

Solicitor Brian Jones, speaking on behalf of the park's owners, told the council on Tuesday total rates were $20,400 of which $12,700 was for its 19 toilet pans.

He compared the park's occupancy rate of 26 per cent with Omokoroa's Accacia Park Rest Home and Hospital's 99 per cent occupancy.

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Mr Jones said compared with Accacia Park and Omokoroa Country Estate, the holiday park had to carry a huge rates burden which was "clearly unfair".

He said the business was finely balanced and putting up tariffs to recover the toilet pan charges would send visitors to competitors and lead to the owners losing their business. The submission to the council's 10-year plan said its council rates of $20,400 was a huge amount for a relatively small land area of 9459sq m.

Mr Jones said many in Omokoroa were concerned at how much the council spent to buy land that had not been used.

The holiday park understood that the council paid $2.9 million for the Gane property and $3.9 million for the De Forges property 3km from the hub of Omokoroa. "This was purchased in spite of the existing private commercially-zoned Cooney land with its central location. The feeling is that these costs could have been avoided and the money put towards the sewage works."

It was also understood that the council was sitting on unused land for roading and wastewater acquired at a cost of $53 million.

Mr Jones also disclosed how Accacia Park had paid only one pan charge in 2007 and 2008 on the assumption that because there was one roof, there was only one toilet under that roof. Sewage charges for Accacia Park went from $3140 in 2008 to $19,250 in 2009 when the method for calculating rates was changed. The holiday park "got no such relief" during that time, he said.

"Perhaps there should be a fiscal cap on pan charges so they are limited to a certain number of pans that can be charged for."

Western Bay Mayor Ross Paterson said other submissions had been received on pan charges. Te Puke councillor Paul Thomas said every church and hotel in the district was in the same position as the holiday park. "I agree," Mr Jones responded.

The council is to consider the submission next month.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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