Levys been a business secret
DAVID KOPMAN has never heard of Lismore's Special Business Rate Variation Levy, but that hasn't stopped him paying it.
And the owner of Rainbow Country Emporium in Carrington Street isn't alone.
The levy applies to all businesses in Lismore and has been running for nine years; this financial year it is expected to raise nearly $190,000. However, a survey by Lismore City Council, to be presented to tonight's council meeting, shows more than half the business owners don't know about it.
Until now, the money raised through the levy has been given to Lismore Unlimited Opportunities to promote the city's businesses.
A report to the council by economic and development manager Ruth Povall, which accompanies the survey, criticises that process and recommends the council forms a new working group to decide how to use the business levy, and that the council's economic development unit takes on the role of 'centre manager' for the CBD.
"It is apparent the current process is flawed and is delivering inconsistent, patchy and unsatisfactory outcomes for both council and the wider business community," Ms Povall's report said.
In her report Ms Povall notes Lismore Unlimited had 300 members when the business levy began in 1998. It now has 200 and does not represent the 3000 businesses that contribute to the fund.
"In order to make more satisfactory outcomes to the wider business community, more control, consistency and certainty must be built into the process," her report added.
The report said there was a compelling case for council, through the economic development unit, to take on the role of systematically supporting the business community in a way that maximised their business levy contributions.
That sounded good to Mr Kopman. Having learnt about the levy, he said it would be better for business owners and the council to put their heads together to 'make things happen' in the CBD.