Businesses in Christchurch could be hit with a levy on staff parking spaces under an option the city council is exploring to raise money and cut road congestion.
The revenue raised by the new rate, to be based on the number of spaces made available for employees, would support sustainable travel ideas.
The proposal is among a raft of options being considered to help the council increase income and cut rates.
A regional fuel tax, charging for water use, hiking fees and charges for using council buildings and taxing developers who bank land have also been examined.
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A council spokeswoman stressed the ideas were a “starter for 10”, and suggestions needed more discussion before being considered as policies.
Leeann Watson, head of the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce, said ta parking levy would be a “slap in the face” for struggling businesses who stayed in the city centre to help its post-quake rejuvenation.
“Some businesses, particularly those who have led the regeneration of the central city, are not yet operating at full capacity due to the delays in promised anchor projects,” she said.
“One of the things we often hear from businesses is that they have lost a lot of on-street parking, so some have allowed for this by creating their own parks – at their cost.
“They should not be penalised for that, and I would be really opposed to incurring additional costs for businesses without additional benefits, given the disproportionate amount of rates they pay compared to residents for no extra services.”
Tim Chesney, who pays his staff at his advertising agency Make Collective a bonus for each day they cycle to work, felt it seemed more of a stick than a carrot to get people out of cars.
“Incentivise people to do the right thing, the behaviours you want, rather than penalise them for doing the stuff you don’t want them to do.”
Chesney said it would be a “weird economy” if the council required businesses to provide car parks to get consent, then bill them if they let staff use them.
It is not clear whether the council would bill itself for its own staff parking at its various buildings.
Potential revenue generating ideas – particularly to increase income from those outside the Christchurch area – were put to councillors in a report before Christmas. The options came from work carried out by regeneration company Development Christchurch (DCL) in 2017.
Ideas now being examined more closely include:
– The workplace parking levy, which will be explored as part of the council’s long-term planning from 2021.
– Commercial use of the council’s real estate, such as allowing monitoring or communication devices to be placed on street lights.
– Fees and charges for drinking, waste and stormwater use that could raise up to $15m a year.
– A regional fuel tax, which could generate up to $20m annually.
– Increasing fees and charges for using council buildings and infrastructure – with a discounted rate for Christchurch residents – to get extra revenue from people outside the city area who benefit from them.
Further ideas, such as taxes on water pollution and extraction, land bankers and a bed tax on tourists were deemed impractical as they would need changes to the law.
Others, such as road tolling, development loans and new council-controlled organisations to pursue profit-making business opportunities, were rejected.
A council spokeswoman said a further report would need to go to council for any decision to be pursued.