Pre-school test case in bid to end rate slugCity councilbacks push for leniency
By SAMANTHA TURNBULL
EVERY non-profit organisation on Crown land in the Lismore area may soon escape paying rates, thanks to The Channon Children's Centre.
The pre-school approached the Lismore City Council this month about escalating rates after property values jumped from $18,000 to $85,000.
The building was built by the community 10 years ago on a 5000 square-metre block of Crown land.
Community-based organisations in the Lismore local government area must pay rates unless they own their property.
Lismore City councillors voted this week to support a bid by pre-school administrators to have the block officially donated to them by the Department of Lands, or to help them buy the property.
However, if the plan fails, the council has agreed to prepare a report looking at all council leases to communitybased organisations on Crown land that are forced to pay rates.
Council's finance manager Rino Santin said that could affect five organisations in the Lismore local government area that operated on Crown land.
"If the council does something for the Channon Children's Centre, then we should do the same for other organisations in the same situa- tion," he said.
The Channon Children's Centre co-ordinator Alison Noble said the ideal outcome for the pre-school would be for the Department of Lands to simply donate the property.
"If the council exempts us from paying rates they will have to look at doing it for many organisations," she said.
"The ultimate option for us would be to have the land donated, if not, $85,000 is out of the question."
She said rate rises had put increased pressure on families of the pre-school's 25 students to fundraise for maintenance of the building and replacement of equipment.
The pre-school and the council are now working together on a submission to the Department of Lands.
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