Rental bill lands ladies in trouble
By DAVID MOASE
Iris Goldstein (second from left) and the ladies of the Bellingen CWA wonder how they can afford to pay their rent bill of more than $12,000.
HOW would you feel if your rent or mortgage payments increased by more than 7000 per cent overnight?
That is what Iris Goldstein and the members of the Bellingen CWA are trying to come to terms with after receiving the shock of their lives when the annual rental notice for their hall arrived recently.
The CWA hall is on Crown land in Church Street, Bellingen, and as a result the organisation pays rent to the NSW Lands Department.
Last year the bill was a manageable $170.
When the letter arrived this year, Mrs Goldstein and the other members were left stunned when it indicated they had to pay $12,512.44.
"Our members are disgusted at being asked to pay this much," Mrs Goldstein said.
"They are also very anxious about what is going to happen to us."
The CWA Hall is the venue for the women's regular meeting and fills an important role in the Bellingen community.
It is used by school groups, for band practise, a speech therapist and as the local early childhood centre, as well as being the venue for social and charity events.
While the hall is heavily booked, the hire fee of $25 a day does little more than cover the costs of the CWA.
"We take in about $5000 in rent in a year and that goes towards maintenance of the building," Mrs Goldstein said.
"We have lodged an objection with the Department of Lands in Grafton but we haven't heard from them yet.
"If we have to pay such an amount we will have to talk to the council and our head office to see if they can help us.
"We don't have that sort of money and we don't have anything to sell."
Nationals leader Andrew Stoner has accused the State Government of slugging community groups like the Bellingen CWA 'ridiculous amounts' to help fill a Budget black hole.
In parliament last week, he asked Premier Morris Iemma to admit the Budget was in crisis.
"Mr Iemma refused to answer the question, instead talking about his disastrous plan for a desalination plant in Sydney," Mr Stoner said.
"Rent increases of this magnitude are outrageous and show that Labor is in dire financial straits.
"These community groups perform invaluable work in the community which often saves the government expense."
Is your community group or club based on Crown land and has your rent risen by a large amount? Tell us your story by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephoning 6650 2945.