Ballina Shire Council staff will prepare a report on bringing an increase to business property rates down to the same level as residential properties.
Ballina Shire Council staff will prepare a report on bringing an increase to business property rates down to the same level as residential properties. DAVID NIELSEN

Business rates could get much-needed reprieve

THE way businesses in the Ballina Shire are charged could be reviewed to allow some reprieve.

Ballina Shire Councillors considered a report and various recommendations on rates at Wednesday's finance committee meeting.

But councillors ultimately voted to receive a report considering the impacts of applying a 5.9 per cent rate increase for both residential and business rates.

This would decrease the amount business rates increase, compared to what was proposed.

The motion to apply this rate to commercial properties passed in a 7-3 vote.

Mayor David Wright, deputy mayor Nathan Willis and councillors Sharon Parry, Eoin Johnston, Stephen McCarthy, Keith Williams and Ben Smith supported the move.

Crs Phil Meehan, Jeff Johnson and Sharon Cadwallader opposed it.

Cr Williams asked whether a current rates system, which sees business properties pay a fixed 20 per cent of the shire's rates, should be reconsidered.

"We're going to have another significant increase of business rates," Cr Williams said.

"For business it's never been 5.9 per cent, it's larger because they're a fixed proportion of the rate base.

"It's meant that the rate in the dollar for business has increased significantly in a short period of time.

"Let's have a look at this now ... because this is starting to have a real bite."

Cr Cadwallader said she could not support any further rate rises at all.

"I just think there's too much hardship out there," she said.

"I get calls every week asking what we're going to do about it.

"My conscience won't let me support rate rises any longer."

Cr Willis pointed out the 5.9 per cent increase was already approved by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal.

He said they could "potentially reduce... the cost to business" by cutting their increase from 6.1 per cent.

Cr Wright told The Northern Star he could "definitely see support" for re-evaluating the fact businesses contribute 20 per cent of all rates.

But he said investigating the impact of the proposed rate changes was important.

"I want to see the effect it's going to have," he said.