O'Sullivan's remark disbelief

LISMORE City Council general manager Paul O’Sullivan has told Lismore businesses to move to Ballina if they couldn’t afford to pay the proposed increase in rates.

The suggestion was made during this week’s consultation with the Lismore business community over a proposal to raise business rates by 0.04 per cent.

Mr O’Sullivan, who yesterday declined an invitation by The Northern Star to explain his comment, did apologise after a break at the forum.

More than three business people who spoke to this newspaper on the condition their names were not used said reaction ranged from disbelief to ‘typical of the council’s attitude’.

The general manager’s comment was made after a presentation by Lismore real estate agent Paul Deegan, who told the forum that rates on commercial property in Lismore were about $6000 more than they were for a property twice the size in Ballina.

Steven Mills, who has owned a shop in Woodlark Street for about 18 years, said rates has risen at more than double the rate of inflation during the past decade.

“The point I made at the meeting was that this is unsustainable in the long term,” he said. Mr Mills said he was not opposed to all rate rises and understood the need for promotion but ‘we need a CBD to promote’.

This year’s rise of 18.48pc ‘would be a hell of an ask’ for his tenant.

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