Proposed drop in Ballarat City Council's commercial rate gains thumbs up

A PROPOSED two per cent reduction in Ballarat City Council’s commercial rate has been welcomed by business owner Simon Coghlan.

Simon Coghlan led protests last year over the council’s commercial rates. PICTURE: JEREMY BANNISTER

Simon Coghlan led protests last year over the council’s commercial rates. PICTURE: JEREMY BANNISTER

Mr Coghlan said the drop, from 6.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent, was a sign the council “has actually listened to business owners”.

“We didn’t get exactly what we wanted (but) they haven’t gone up the full amount, which is a positive outcome,” Mr Coghlan said.

The Ballarat hotelier last year headed a petition which opposed the council’s plan to borrow $25 million for capital work projects, including a 50-metre indoor pool, while raising rates by nearly 30 per cent in four years, including a commercial rate nearly double that of  Geelong.

The council’s chief executive officer, Anthony Schinck, said there were two reasons the rate had been lowered in the 2014-15 draft budget.

“The council has a long-term strategy of reducing its commercial rates to make it more affordable for small to medium businesses,” Mr Schinck said.

“We are recognising quite clearly this is a difficult economic time.

“What we also know is commercial ratepayers pay disproportionately high rates.”

Mr Schinck said the two per cent drop would be absorbed through council efficiencies, without redistributing the cost to other ratepayers.

“It was quite clear last year that, while those commercial ratepayers were doing it hard, not one submitter objected to our financial strategy in infrastructure delivery.

“They just questioned if it was the right time.”

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