Business fury at a 72.4 per cent rise
COFFS Coast businesses will face a back-breaking 72.4 per cent increase in Council rates over the next six years if the City Council has its way, says a local business leader.
President of the Woolgoolga Chamber of Commerce, Greg Ray, said the rate rises and the abolition of long-standing discounts would inevitably cost jobs as many businesses fought to stay viable.
Mr Ray also believed the council intended to progressively abolish water and sewerage discounts over the next three years, imposing hundreds of dollars in additional costs.
"Inevitably, it will also mean some companies, already struggling to meet the cost of rising interest rates, will be forced to close their doors causing major job losses in a community already suffering one of the highest unemployment rates in the country," Mr Ray said.
"What is council thinking?"
The Woolgoolga Chamber of Commerce is planning to seek urgent talks with the Coffs Harbour City Council in an attempt to get it to reconsider the proposed increases.
"We are obviously hopeful council will not only listen to, but heed the voice of the business community and respond accordingly," Mr Ray said.
"Of course, we appreciate that council, like business, is facing tough times. But like business, council must learn to live within its means and not simply increase prices, which bear no resemblance to commercial reality."
Mr Ray pointed to some 'serious inequities' in the council's planned rises.
"Businesses in the CBD will pay annual rate increases of 6 per cent over the next six years while those outside the CBD will face rises of 9.5 per cent a year," he said.
"Yet, extraordinarily, council has nominated a City Centre marketing program as one of the purposes for the rate rises. That is inequitable."
Mr Ray appealed to businesses throughout the region to contact their local councillors and make known their views on the planned rate rises.
"Business needs to act now and to act decisively before it's too late," he said.
"There'll be no point complaining after the event."