COFFS Harbour City Council should give businesses immediate assurance that it will not increase rates beyond the State Government's rate pegging scheme - or risk putting people out of work, according to the Woolgoolga and Northern Beaches Chamber of Commerce.
President of the chamber Greg Ray said they had warned council that any attempt to seek an extraordinary increase in business rates this year would be tantamount to putting people out of work. He said because Australia is now sliding into recession, Council should not seek to increase rates beyond that granted under the State Government's rate pegging scheme, and there should be no increase in the cost of allied services.
“To do so would be to tantamount to destroying jobs and threatening the welfare of potentially hundreds of families,” Mr Ray said. He said the chamber also wants assurance from the Minister for Local Government that any increase in the rate pegging scheme is kept to an absolute minimum.
“Council must realise that we are only just starting to feel the pressure on business from the economic crisis. The Council has to understand that protecting jobs - which means helping to maintain the viability of business - must be the top priority,” Mr Ray said.
“Like Federal and State Governments, the Coffs Harbour City Council should be considering what positive action it can take to stimulate business as the best means of safeguarding jobs.”
He said the fact that council was given the green light by the State Government to increase business rates by a stagging nine per cent last year was bad enough.
“Thankfully, however, we were able to convince council to scrap its original plan to lift rates by a mammoth 72.4 per cent over six years ... job losses would have been horrendous.”