Businesses will continue to fight council
THE Chambers of Commerce called it 'a crisis meeting', while the mayor of Coffs Harbour called it 'a half-hour yarn'.
But whatever the name, Wednesday's sit-down between local business leaders and the Coffs Harbour City Council has failed to ease concerns over plans to increase business rates by 12 per cent a year for six years.
Woolgoolga Chamber of Commerce president Greg Ray said the Woolgoolga, Coffs Harbour and Sawtell Chambers would continue to fiercely oppose the increase after the meeting concluded without resolution.
"They can't simply jack-up rates on business to solve their monetary shortfall," Mr Ray said.
He said local Chambers were critical of the lack of prior consultation, given the increase announcement was made the Thursday before Easter.
"It certainly gives the appearance of being underhand," he said.
Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce president, Maree Walden, called Wednesday's meeting a 'poor attempt at damage control'.
"Council did not consult on any level with any local business representatives on the surprise business rate increase, and now they want our questions and advice," Ms Walden said.
"I'm unsure whether the council operated out of ignorance or arrogance."
Ms Walden said business owners would be happy to support a rate increase, but only if they felt there was some potential return on investment.
"The business community needs clarification, as many of us have seen business development programs come and go," she said.
Coffs Harbour Mayor Keith Rhoades said the meeting with the Chambers was on procedural issues for consultation on the rate increase.
"Council encourages consultation and proceeds based on submissions we receive," Cr Rhoades said.