Rising costs are putting affordable day care in Mt Eden at risk. Valerie Schuler pays Kids@Play a visit
Everything keeps costing more. Mostly, we just bite the bullet and accept it.
But, when the lease for their children's day care kept rising, a group of Mt Eden parents decided they'd had enough.
Auckland City Council recently increased Kids@Play's rent by a hefty 24 per cent. Outraged, parents approached the council to reconsider the increase. Last week, their request was knocked back.
Mother-of-two and committee member Donnell Alexander says: "The centre is a non-profit community day care, run mostly by parents.
"We've already had to put our fees up once this year and another increase is out of the question. We pride ourselves on being affordable to people from all walks of life and don't want this to change."
The centre, on Bellwood Ave, opened in 2002. It owns the building but leases the land it stands on from the council.
The only way to cope with the latest price rise of almost $7000 a year is to increase the fees yet again.
Mother-of-one Ros Morris says this is simply not palatable.
"Everything else is going up in price and it's just another increase we have to try and deal with. No one likes an increase and it's just not fair," she says.
The centre's lease had increased by $2800 in 2006, resulting in a fee increase for parents of 5 per cent.
The council says increases are based on the latest land valuations. Because Kids@Play charges fees, it should pay full commercial rent like any other business.
"The centre is not currently eligible for a reduced rental under council's community and recreation lease policy," says property manager John O'Brien.
"Full market rents are paid by all groups that occupy council land that do not qualify for a reduced rental or a subsidy under a council policy."
Under this policy, non-fee paying preschools, kindergartens and playcentres on council land do not have to pay full rent. The council also has the power to reduce rent for feepaying community preschools that cannot afford market rent.
Mrs Alexander says Kids@Play only charges fees to pay for qualified teachers.
"It's a community day care and makes absolutely no profit. If we were a ping-pong club, we wouldn't have to pay anything. It makes no sense," she says.
The council acknowledges there are anomalies in rental arrangements for childcare centres and plans to review its policy. Until then, parents must bite the bullet.
"We can't just pack up and buy another building, so we are completely at the council's whim," says Mrs Alexander.
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