Ratepayers will subsidise less of the cost of alcohol licensing in the city after Wellington City Council unanimously voted to amend its Alcohol Fees Bylaw to increase how much some alcohol licence holders pay to obtain or renew their licence.
Wellington Mayor, Andy Foster says the licencing cost will not change because of the increase in fees, but the level that the industry contributes to the cost of licensing will increase.
“We had planned to recover about 71 percent of the cost of alcohol licence applications and annual fees, and the rest (29 percent) was subsidised by ratepayers. We agreed we needed to reduce the amount that ratepayers were paying towards alcohol licensing,” Mayor Foster said.
“Obviously COVID also had an impact on the level of cost recovery in the last year including the fee reductions made by the Council to support the hospitality industry in Wellington.”
Chair of the Pūroro Rangaranga | Social, Cultural and Economic Committee, Councillor Jill Day says the fees will now see the Council move towards achieving its aim of recovering 85% of the cost of alcohol licence applications and annual fees from licence holders. The remaining 15% will be recovered from general rates, she said.
“The increase in fees will only be applicable to high and very-high risk rated licences. Licences categorised as high risk are on-licence venues open after 2am and off-licences open after 10pm.
“The application and annual fees for high risk licences will go up by $1000, while fees for very-high risk licences will increase by $2000.”
Cr Day said the move was in line with the intent of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 which aims to ensure licensing costs are met by the alcohol industry rather than by ratepayers, who under the previous Sale of Liquor Act 1989, subsidised approximately 50% of licensing costs.
During May this year, the Council consulted with the public, including directly contacting the 693 alcohol licensees in Wellington, on amending the Bylaw. A total of 27 submissions were received.
Submitters who supported the proposal agreed that users should pay the costs of the Council’s licensing function. Those against the proposal said the fees were too high, or the impact of COVID-19 had put additional strain on the industry.