Rates hurt everyone

FARMERS and businesspeople are desperate for relief from hefty rates bills, South Gippsland Shire Council has been told.
The challenge now before council is how to provide it. Council last Wednesday heard submissions to its Proposed 2018-19 Rating Strategy, to be debated tomorrow (Wednesday).
This year, council’s Rating Strategy Review Steering Committee proposed to drop the farming rate differential by five percent and increase commercial and industrial rates by five and 15 percent respectively to help make up the shortfall.
But council voted not to adopt the committee’s recommendation, given the lack of unanimous support among committee members. Council will now undertake its own review over the next 12 months, retaining the existing rating differentials for now.
Foster Chamber of Commerce and Industry representative Paul Ahern urged council not to increase commercial rates, saying businesses were affected by rising costs such as fuel and bank fees.
“The number of vacant premises is an indication of the significant pressure we face in retail,” he said.
Mr Ahern questioned Cr Don Hill’s assertion the committee’s proposed increases to commercial rates would equate to $1.50 a week.
“Once things go up, they seldom come down. We already live in a very high rated area and I don’t want to see it go up anymore,” Mr Ahern said.
The chamber’s submission, by president John Davies, said the committee’s proposed increases to commercial and industrial ratepayers would be “disproportionate” and have a “significant impact” that would “be far reaching”.
“At the moment, the farmers already have a 70 percent differential rate,” he said.
Mr Davies called for the municipal charge not to be reintroduced, as the committee proposed.
Barry Gilbert of Walkerville was a member of the 2018-2022 Rating Strategy Steering Committee. He said farmers deserved “a marginally lower differential rate” and were already under significant pressure.
Mr Gilbert also called on council to lower the vacant lane rate applicable to land in the Farming Zone, saying the 200 percent differential was “a glaring inequitable rate”.
Mr Gilbert told council that adopting the draft recommendations, including a possible municipal charge, “would only increase the average residential annual rate by approximately $50.”

Cost pressure: Paul Ahern, representing Foster Chamber of Commerce and Industry, called for South Gippsland Shire Council to be mindful of the impact of rates on businesses, last Wednesday.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=24977

Posted by on May 29 2018. 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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