Napier City councillors have voted against making senior citizen discounts more widely available at council facilities, a move one councillor says flies in the face of promoting Napier as an "age-friendly" city.
The council's city development committee was last week asked to consider the concessions offered across the local authority's fees and charges, and whether more comprehensive discounts should be available to senior citizens or holders of a community services card.
"Council has tried to target any assistance offered to those who can least afford to pay for the services. This has tended to be through youth rates and recognition of the community services card at Napier Aquatic Centre," tourism services manager Neil Fergus said in a report to the committee.
There was a "moderate level of request at the tourism facilities for a seniors' discount and there is a strong feeling of entitlement to discounts for seniors across a wide range of council services," Mr Fergus said in his report.
Despite the requests, council staff recommended any further discounts be for community service card holders but not automatically for those aged over 65.
"Age does not necessarily equate to an inability to pay," the report said.
Councillor Maxine Boag, who is also secretary of Napier and Districts Grey Power, said not providing seniors discounts on council amenities was a mistake and was out of line with how other councils operated.
"Not only that, but we are out of step with many of our retailers and businesses in Napier and our own people, who have made submissions year after year after year to our annual plan asking for concessions for pensioners," she told councillors at the meeting.
"We're not talking about huge bucks here. We're talking about acknowledging, as other councils do, that the over-65s have worked hard for many years to build the society and the community we now enjoy." Senior discounts would also boost the city's tourism sector by encouraging older tourists to spend money in Napier, she said.
"It may increase usage of our facilities. It will show at a time when we are seriously considering age-friendly city status, that we want senior citizens to come to Napier and get a small discount on a few council-owned facilities."
But deputy mayor Faye White said Napier was already an age-friendly city because it provided affordable housing and cheap rates.
While other cities might offer more in the way of pensioner discounts, their residents paid higher rates, she said.
"[This] council has taken the right direction by targeting assistance to those who can least afford it, through recognition of the community services card."
Councillor Tony Jeffery said he agreed the concession policy should be needs-based, not age-based.
Councillor Michelle Pyke said an aged-based policy could be seen as discrimination and using the community services card was an appropriate way to decide how discounts should be applied.
Councillors voted to instruct staff to prepare a list of discounts across council services that would apply to community services card holders, and that the list be brought back to the council for approval.