I don't mean to incur the wrath of Whangarei's bars, restaurants and cafes, but a one-off $160 fee annually for al fresco dining is pretty good value.
It's just over $3 per week - less than the cost of a cup of coffee or a beer.
I appreciate there might be concern and even cynicism regarding the Whangarei District Council's move to regulate alfresco dining rules and review the associated fees, particularly when money's tight and times are hard.
No one wants costs coming in 2013 that haven't been budgeted for. But given the freedom businesses have surrounding alfresco, some guidelines appear to be necessary.
Cafes work on the number of "plates" they can serve, so that extra space is valuable.
If I owned a business with two small cafe tables outside on the footpath, I would raise an eyebrow at having to pay the same annual rate that someone with six tables pays.
Tourism is becoming a hot topic in Northland and alfresco dining is an important part part of a tourist town's "je ne sais quoi".
If I was a cafe owner, I'd be preparing to serve up a little more cash for the benefit of alfresco dining, but let's hope it's not so such much as to be prohibitive to Whangarei's atmosphere.