ON THE AGENDA: Lismore City Council will discuss a proposal to reduce business inner CBD rates at next week’s ordinary meeting. Photo: Kate O'Neill
ON THE AGENDA: Lismore City Council will discuss a proposal to reduce business inner CBD rates at next week’s ordinary meeting. Photo: Kate O'Neill

RATE CUT: You could be asked to pay for CBD relief

UPDATE 12.35pm:  MANY businesses in the Lismore CBD will welcome a proposed rate reduction, but how will it be funded?

Lismore City Council will vote on a proposed decrease in rates for inner CBD businesses at tomorrow night's meeting, with the council saying: "It is also apparent that councils business rates, and particularly its business CBD rates, are appreciably higher than neighbouring LGA's".

The council hopes to "stimulate the CBD" by cutting inner CBD business rates and offers three options to fund the reduction.

The first option, which is noted in the agenda as the preferred option, is to offset the cost against all rating categories, which would see minor to moderate average increases for ratepayers across the local government area.
If council approved option 1, changes could include farmland ratepayers paying up to an average of $87 extra per year and residents could pay between $48 - $55 more per year on rates.

While Option 1 would see inner CBD business ratepayers paying an average of $4432 per year, urban business ratepayers could pay up to $166 extra per year, while Nimbin businesses could be forced to pay an extra $87 per year.

Option 2 would offset the costs against all rating categories, excluding farmland.

What this means is while farmland ratepayers would see no change, residential ratepayers will see larger increases than in Option 1.

Under Option 2, residential ratepayers could see increases of between $57 - $65 extra per year, urban business rates could swell by an additional $197 per year, while Nimbin businesses could pay an extra $104 per year.

The third option would see the costs associated with decreasing inner CBD business rates offset against all the business rating categories.

This means farmland and residential ratepayers would see no changes in their rates, while business ratepayers outside the inner CBD would see dramatic increases, in some cases more than $1000 extra.

The documents show proposed changes for urban business rates could see rates increase by $1131 per year.

Ratepayers classified as 'other businesses' would have to fork out an extra $433 per year, while Nimbin businesses would need to pay $594 extra per year.

IPART approval is not required for this reallocation of rates, provided the overall income collected by the council via rates does not increase.


Original story: A PROPOSAL to dramatically reduce rates for inner CBD businesses will be on the forefront of discussions at the Lismore City Council meeting next week.

The April ordinary meeting, which will be live-streamed rather than open to the public, features a number of proposals and motions, including a rescission motion.

According to the meeting agenda, the council will discuss a potential rate reduction to "urgently stimulate the CBD and halt it's decline and better align Business Inner CBD rates with Business Urban rates and assist in the economic stimulation of the CBD".

The agenda states "in the absence of the $1m proposed SRV Economic Development income it is necessary to find another way to stimulate the CBD".

The agenda's report highlights the fact the council's business rates, particularly those within the CBD, are "appreciably higher" than neighbouring LGA's and to "address this imbalance". Management have recommended the income raised from business CBD rates be reduced by 50 per cent, which equates to approximately $1 million.

If adopted, the changes will be reflected in the 2020/21 Draft Operational Plan which will go on public exhibition in May 2020.

The proposal recommends the council resolves to adopt a reduction in the Business Inner CBD rate income raised by 50 per cent, effective from July 1 2020.

Other recommendations include for the council to conduct a full review of the seven rating categories with a view to simplifying the structure to be bought to the council in the next financial year.

The proposal comes after the council called an emergency meeting on March 27, where councillors voted unanimously that ratepayers will be offered a hardship clause for anyone struggling to pay their rates during this time.

The council will also be discussing at Tuesday's meeting:

● A rescission motion over council's decision to rescind its decision to rezone part of land at 123 Taylor Road, Chilcotts Grass.

● A motion calling for economic stimulus packages for local governments.

● Re-establishment of Alcohol-Free Zones Lismore and Nimbin.

● Proposed service station at 1055 Bruxner Highway, Goonellabah.

● A planning proposal to permit a function centre at 163 Invercauld Road, Goonellabah.

The ordinary meeting will commence at 6pm on Tuesday, April 14. The meeting is closed to the public and will be live-streamed on the council website.

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