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Call for courage

SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council has been accused of taking the easy option in reviewing rates.

Council’s discussion paper Rating Strategy 2014-2018 is now out for public consultation, and proposes increasing commercial and industrial rates, while giving farmers a large discount.

Former shire councillor Ross Svenson wants farm differential rates scrapped, and farmers charged the same rate as residents to ease the burden on commercial and industrial ratepayers.

The move to increase commercial rates has also been opposed by some members of the Leongatha Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“I just feel the council has picked all the low hanging fruit,” Mr Svenson said.

The Cape Liptrap farmer has interests in commercial property and will be affected by a proposal to reduce farm rates, and increase commercial rates.

Mr Svenson said all ratepayers were paying too higher rates, not just farmers, and opposed a differential rate for farmers.

“A person with a unit in Leongatha pays twice the amount of rates for a unit that is half the total value of a unit in Glen Waverley,” he said.

“I oppose the differential rate for farmers because for the little they are talking, the difference in the overall rates is not much.”

Mr Svenson said if farmers pay less, someone else has to pay more to ensure council has adequate funds to pay for services.

“Farmers should be paying the same rates as residential rates,” he said.

Mr Svenson said council was not making the “tough calls”, and should reduce expenses instead of charging ratepayers more.

“It is time there was a government inquiry into the services local governments should be supplying and how they are funded and peg back what is being provided now, because it is not an efficient delivery of those services,” he said.

“Councillors are not strong enough to peg back the executive on these matters so there should be a State Government inquiry.

“If these services are not able to be pegged back, we have to have shire amalgamations to provide these services more efficiently. I believe we are employing too many executives that are doing nothing for us.”

Mr Svenson believed “mums and dads businesses” could not survive under ongoing commercial rate rises and said the presence of vacant shops in Leongatha was testimony to that.

He also called for churches and RSLs to pay rates.

He also said the Bald Hills Wind Farm at Tarwin Lower should be paying more. Council confirmed the site rates were now charged as farm rates, but once turbines are erected, the wind farm would be charged at the more expensive industrial rate.

Mr Svenson said construction of the wind farm was damaging local roads and South Gippslanders would be left with the repair bill.

Leongatha traders believe commercial rate rises will have a negative impact on businesses’ ability to flourish.

“We would like to hope the rates of the business do not go up,” Jesse Jarvis of Leongatha Flower Power said.

“It would impact the businesses.”

Shirleyanne Wright of Shan’s Lingerie and Leisure said businesses were already under financial pressure.

“Because of the current climate, I think a big increase will hurt a lot of businesses,” she said.

“Farms are businesses too, so it’s a touchy subject but I do not believe the businesses should be asked to shoulder it.

“The businesspeople who rent the shop pay the outgoings.”

Ms Wright said many businesspeople are unable to increase the price of their products to offset higher rates.

Many of her products are already pre-priced by suppliers and she said local businesses must remain competitive to retain business.

“Internet shopping has had an impact on the town but it’s just not just rates that are going up; it’s everything else,” she said.

Action needed: former South Gippsland Shire Councillor Ross Svenson is calling on council to reduce its expenditure instead of reviewing rates.

Action needed: former South Gippsland Shire Councillor Ross Svenson is calling on council to reduce its expenditure instead of reviewing rates.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=10082

Posted by on Feb 25 2014. Filed under Featured, News. 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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