No relief for CBD as plan to reduce rates gets voted down
A PLAN to freeze Lismore's inner CBD rates in a bid to reduce the gap between the city centre and other business precincts was voted down at this week's council meeting.
Cr Gianpiero Battista's motion aimed to reduce rates paid by businesses in Molesworth, Keen and Woodlark streets, which pay three times more than other businesses.
The extra money funds security and CCTV cameras for the city centre, but Cr Battista said the cost was still too high for struggling businesses, especially after the March flood.
Cr Battista said his model to initiate a gradual freeze on the rates aimed to establish parity between the CBD and other business areas.
He said the goal was to create one business rate for the entire local government area.
"It's a very modest and slight increase for everybody else and decreases for the CBD, its a step forward towards a reduction (in CBD rates)," Cr Battista said.
While Cr Greg Bennett did agree "the inner CBD rate is too high", he said Cr Battista's motion was "not the way to fix it".
Nor did the other councillors, with the motion voted down in a landslide 9-2 vote.
But Cr Battista's motion was two-pronged in its intent.
Cr Battista told The Northern Star prior to the motion being heard that the idea to freeze CBD rates could also alleviate pressure on city centre businesses if the Lismore Shopping Square expansion proposal was approved by council in the future.
He hoped the motion would entice Crs Bennett and Nancy Casson on side to lodge a recession motion for the development to return to council.
Potential impacts of the Square expansion on the CBD and other business precincts formed part of the pair's stance against the divisive project, which was voted down at the September meeting.
But Cr Bennett was quick to shoot down Cr Battista's motion as the solution.
He said the motion, paired with the Square development, would serve as a "double whammy" for businesses hubs such as Goonellabah, North Lismore and the CBD.
"What we'll have is those businesses getting a hit as they lose sales and they'll get a hit again as their rates go up," Cr Bennett said.
He said the rate issue was "solely between the Square and the CBD".
Cr Vanessa Ekins foreshadowed a motion earlier in the debate to host another councillor briefing to review business rates.
The council's finance manager Rino Santin said the new workshop would build upon a similar session held in June.