Rates pressure boils

SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council continues to be lobbied to reduce commercial rates to help Leongatha businesses.

Accountant Jim Pickersgill said commercial rates are high, but with many vacant buildings in Leongatha, landlords have dropped rents to meet the fall in demand. The capital value of their premises has also fallen, as well as revenue from their buildings.

“I would like to see a more concessional and collaborative approach by council to their plight and a subsequent adjustment in rates,” he said.

“It seems difficult enough to encourage business to Leongatha, for some reason or another and, on top of the Murray Goulburn shocks to employment and farm commodity prices, I am very concerned for the wellbeing of the town and surrounding area and its residents.

“Whilst it is wonderful to operate a business in Leongatha, employ local staff and use local businesses, things like rate increases or high commercial rates put pressure on prices I need to charge my clients, which in turn, puts pressure on their resources.

“If a business is continually under pressure to absorb higher operating costs, then that business will look to ways of automation, outsourcing and other cost cutting measures which may impact on its decision to employ more local people. “Less people being employed equals less consumers equals less money circulating within the region. Economics 101!  That is something this town cannot tolerate if it is to survive, let alone prosper.”

Council will review its commercial and other rates, after last Wednesday voting to appoint members to its Rating Strategy Review Committee.

Councillors elected to the committee were Don Hill, Maxine Kiel and Alyson Skinner, with Meg Edwards also nominated but missing out after a vote by councillors. Councillors Skinner and Kiel received nine votes each, Cr Hill five and Cr Edwards four.

Community representatives accepted by council were former councillor David Lewis of Hallston, farmer and vet Dr Murray Hooper, Leongatha South farmer Gordon Vagg, Walkerville and Nerrena ratepayer Barry Gilbert, Venus Bay ratepayer Vincent Morfuni QC and former Stony Creek Racing Club CEO Ralph Gallagher of Foster.

Unsuccessful applications were former council local laws coordinator Ian Nicholas of Outtrim, former councillor Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks of Ruby, council candidate in 2016, Frank Oostermeyer of Dollar and former shire mayor Jim Forbes of Poowong (for independent non-voting chair position).

That group will be headed by Frances O’Brien QC, a South Gippsland Shire ratepayer who was involved in a rating review at Ararat Rural City Council.

Cr Edwards said councillors should have voted for the community members, as it did with the councillor nominations.

CEO Tim Tamlin said the committee would meet in coming weeks, with a decision to be reached by March and incorporated within the 2018-19 budget.


Rates probe: from left, South Gippsland Shire councillors Don Hill, deputy mayor Maxine Kiel and Alyson Skinner are the councillor representatives on council’s Rating Strategy Review Committee.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=23074

Posted by on Nov 1 2017. Filed under 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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