RATE increases have been an impediment on business growth in Ballarat, according to a local business leader.
“The rate increases this year have been a negative to business from a couple of areas,” Commerce Ballarat executive officer Jodie Gillett said.
“One is just in the increase of costs but it is also in people’s mind.
“It is people looking at it and saying ‘wow, there is that increase and we have that coming year after year’.
“People looking at it like that really puts a halt on investment and people look at the costs in moving to Ballarat or opening new stores in Ballarat or a new company in Ballarat.
“They look at the costs and they weigh them up. That is what business is all about.”
The changes were approved by Ballarat City Council in June, with the first rate hike being a 7.5 per cent increase.
Further increases include 6.5 per cent for 2014-15 and a further six per cent for the year after that.
The Courier spoke to many businesses throughout the week who all stressed the high rate costs were a big concern.
Ms Gillett said her organisation had spoken out about the rate increases early this year.
“We do sincerely ask our councillors to be mindful of that ongoing and really monitor, very carefully, the impacts of those rate increases as they start to unfold over the next six to 12 months,” she said.
In response to the concerns raised by businesses in the city, mayor Joshua Morris said he acknowledged the rates were an impost on businesses in the area, however they featured among a wide range of global factors impacting business as illustrated by this week’s Holden announcement.
“Council’s rates strategy is about delivering the future infrastructure needs of the Ballarat community and supporting the local economy, with initiatives including an indoor 50-metre pool and $72 million for council’s biggest ever program of capital works in 2013-14,” he said.
“The future growth of the economy depends on council delivering key infrastructure, which is substantially funded by rates.
“The Ballarat Regional Capital Plan highlights the infrastructure challenges ahead for Ballarat.”