'Steady and relentless' rate rise risks Lismore CBD's future
LISMORE councillor Gianpiero Battista is calling for an urgent review of business rates in the Lismore city centre at tonight's council meeting.
Cr Battista said the council's considerable investment in the city could be undermined by the "steady and relentless increase and divide in rates between inner CBD properties and the rest of the LGA".
Lismore inner city business rates are more than three times the rates paid by businesses outside the city centre.
The 230 businesses in the CBD pay 5.55c in the dollar on NSW land valuation, compared to just 1.58c in the dollar in the greater Lismore urban area.
"There is no reason for it," Cr Battista said.
"The CBD businesses pays for their own extra cleaning, they pay for security, and they pay a marketing levy, (all) on top of the normal (land valuation based) rate."
Cr Battista said the high rates in the CBD were based on the incorrect historical assumption that the city centre was the major economic driver of the town so deserved to shoulder the biggest rates.
"In the old day the advantage was everybody was coming to the CBD to do business
"But now with the advent of online shopping, and even (nearby) Ballina, and Robina on the Gold Coast... there's a lot more competition.
"There is no fairness or reason for the rates to be so high."
Cr Battista said the community wanted to see a "vibrant and healthy" CBD but this was it risk if business rates were not eased soon.
"The last thing we want in Lismore is a dead CBD."
He said the council had invested a lot to revitalise it, including the art gallery, Lismore City Hall refurbishment, and the council's successful outdoor dining policy, which had "incredibly changed the landscape".
A staff submission to Cr Battista's motion noted that if any changes were made following the review the earliest possible introduction was July 1, 2018.
But in light of the flood, he said that if businesses were struggling, "we may have to move a bit quicker than that."