HIS Bendigo store is nearly double the size and centrally located, so Skin Ski and Surf owner John O’Neill can’t understand why his Ballarat rates are about 40 per cent more expensive.
Mr O’Neill owns Skin Ski and Surf in Ballarat’s Bridge Mall and another store in Hargreaves Street in the Bendigo CBD.
He said takings from the two businesses were similar, as were the services and facilities provided by the councils.
“It doesn’t cost any more for petrol in Ballarat than in Bendigo,” he said.
“It doesn’t cost any more for an ice cream in Ballarat than Bendigo. Why is our city council so expensive?”
Ballarat businesses face some of the highest commercial rates in regional Victoria, a comparison by The Courier of the state’s 10 regional biggest cities shows.
The commercial rate rose 7.5 per cent this financial year to 0.010539 in the dollar and represents more than double the residential rate.
In comparison, Bendigo’s commercial CBD rate is $0.00736 and Geelong pays 0.005437.
Mr O’Neill said it was hard to put up prices in the current economic climate so rate hikes had to be absorbed.
“It certainly must be having an impact on jobs – if you have to put the extra money into rates you can’t employ someone else.”
Ballarat City Council recently set a series of rate rises for the next three years to pay for Ballarat’s biggest infrastructure budget in history.
Commerce Ballarat board member David Wright said any increase in cost to small businesses was going to hurt.
“And to that extent, it is certainly a large increase for small businesses to have to incur,” he said.
“That’s why we need to keep pushing our (Commerce Ballarat) B to B campaign and continue to ensure and encourage people to spend locally.”
Economic development was allocated $1.58 million in the council’s operating budget, up by just one per cent on last year.