Council cuts fees for event liquor licences

The Timaru District Council has approved a new fee structure for special liquor licences for events, dropping the price for most operators from $575 to $207.

The new fee is still a lot higher than the $64 flat fee that used to be charged.

The new Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, which came into force in December, changed special licence fees. Previously half the cost of monitoring and compliance was picked up by ratepayers.

Default alcohol licensing fees were set by the Government. A small event with fewer than 100 attendees would be charged a fee of $63.25. A medium-sized event of 100 to 400 attendees would be charged $207, while large size events with more than 400 attendees paid $575. This would mean any operator wishing to sell alcohol at a festival which attracts over 400 people would pay $575.

Yesterday council's resource planning and regulation committee agreed the licensing committee be given the discretion to reduce the fee by licence class, meaning operators at events with over 400 people will pay $207, instead of $575.

Committee chair Pat Mulvey felt it was a sensible solution.

"The classic example that comes to mind is the Theatre Royal. That can have 1000 people there but alcohol is only sold to a small amount of people for half an hour before the event.

"In the interim we will do this, then after 12 months review the new structure." If, at the review, the council felt changes needed to be made, it could set its own fees for special licences through a bylaw.

Cr Steve Earnshaw suggested an umbrella licence should be investigated, which would mean the overall operator of a large event such as the South Canterbury Hospice Wine and Food Festival would apply for a large event licence, then divide the cost among the stalls selling alcohol.

A report would be prepared and brought to the next meeting.

Operators asking to have their fees reduced would be considered in terms of a number of factors, including previous behaviour and systems put in place by the operator. Small operators have been loud in their protests to the council that they would find it prohibitive to attend large events if they had to pay $575 each, if more than 400 people were present.

The Timaru Herald