Hall hire fee hikes a mistake
Auckland community hall hire fees will not increase this year, with letters to users about big rises sent in error.
An urgent meeting between Auckland Council staff and Hibiscus and Bays Local Board representatives was called after the Rodney Times on June 26 detailed letters sent to hall users with a huge fee rise and their reaction.
Board chairwoman Julia Parfitt says the new fee structure sent to hall users was done in error. Dozens of community groups across the Hibiscus Coast, Rodney and Auckland received letters last week from the Auckland Council informing them of a new price structure.
Some groups were facing increases of up to 400 per cent, forcing them to close their hall activities. Kathy Roscue organises Warkworth's Home, Body and Beauty Market held quarterly at the Warkworth Masonic Hall. When Roscue heard about the new charges she says she would have to close. Her fees would have increased what she was paying by seven times.
"It's just greed. Pure and simple, and yet another example of why rural areas should not be part of the super-city."
Ingrid Le Prou, who hires the Warkworth hall for yoga classes, says she would have had to find a new venue.
"I keep my charges down so that locals can come one or more times a week, which they do."
Parfitt says she met representatives of several council departments last Wednesday to find how the mistake was made.
"We have sent out an apology letter to our core hall users to say there was an error," Parfitt says. All those who received the first letter notifying of price increases should expect a second one cancelling the changes.
Five local boards across Auckland had refused to sign off the proposed fee increase, requesting further information.
"We want to know what other halls were charging, and if the proposed changes were fair," Parfitt says.
"When you change fees and charges you have to look at the level of justification.
"At the point when we had to make our decision, we didn't have enough information."
Parfitt says the fees will remain as they are until next year when they will be reviewed.
- Rodney Times
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