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Bill pain hurts businesses

SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council’s registration fees for food businesses are the highest in the region and hurting businesses.
Council has admitted the expensive costs are partly due to council’s financial process that results in a set percentage increase in fees charged each year.
“Over time this has resulted in a significant increase in fees charged disproportionate to the increase in the cost of running the service,” a council officer stated in an email to Dumbalk accommodation business, Loves Lane Cottages, and seen by The Star.
The officer stated he is now preparing a report on Food Act registration fees for the 2018-19 budget year, “with a view of bringing fees back in line with neighbouring shires”.
Phill and Marie Arnold of Loves Lane Cottages are angry at receiving an annual licensing fee of $637.
Council said the fee was only relevant to the Arnolds’ business, and included “registration costs associated with prescribed accommodation and food business registration”.
Class three food registration only is $453, higher than Bass Coast’s fee of $306.
The Arnolds sought a class three licence to sell unpackaged low risk foods, and pre-packaged or uncooked higher risk foods.
The Arnolds said the fee was excessive and they would not make enough profit from food sales to cover that portion of the licence fee.
In a letter to the Arnolds, council stated they knew the fees were excessive compared to other shires, but was not able to provide a reduction.
“We got a bill for $637 which literally means we have to do several hundred sales because you can only put a couple of dollars on each item you sell,” Mr Arnold said.
“There is absolutely no way you can cover the cost of the licence with the sale of this type of food from our type of business, let alone make any profit.”
They also believe council charges excessive rates, with the Arnolds’ bill rising from $3700 to $4900 after they built two extra cottages.
Mr Arnold said the business has to sell 25 nights of accommodation just to pay council’s high rates bill.
Council’s director of development services Bryan Sword said council is now undertaking a review of food business registration fees for the 2018-19 annual budget.
“This includes benchmarking against like councils,” he said.
“Council does provide a full fee exemption to over 100 sporting clubs, community groups and not for profit organisations. Most other councils charge the sporting clubs at least 50 percent of the associated fee. Some councils will also charge a reinspection fee, however the current fee at South Gippsland is all inclusive and does not represent full cost recovery of providing the service.”
Mr Sword said the licensing fees council charges to businesses do not cover the cost of council’s service, given 100 clubs and groups are not required to pay fees.
In Bass Coast Shire, the fee for a class three food licence is $306 per annum.

Excessive costs: Phill and Marie Arnold of Dumbalk’s Loves Lane Cottages believe council fees are hindering their business

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=23519

Posted by on Dec 19 2017. Filed under Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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