CBD ratepayers call for balance with other areas

NOWRA CBD ratepayers have challenged Shoalhaven City Council to equalise the commercial rating structure and bring it into line with other areas.

The Nowra Commercial Ratepayers and Tenants Association believes the 348 commercial ratepayers in the town pay too much for the return spent on the CBD.

CBD ratepayer James Caldwell said council collected about $1.6 million from commercial ratepayers in Nowra but little of that money was spent on CBD improvement.

He said CBD ratepayers paid about three times as much as non CBD ratepayers.

“The result is a rather shabby CBD that lacks vibrancy with scarce attraction for local residents or visitors in comparison to Berry, Ulladulla and Huskisson,” he said.

“Not only is little of this money being spent on the CBD but council’s records of the disbursement of this money are somewhat sketchy. 

“It appears the money goes into the bucket and there is very little record of detailed expenditure.”

The association understands the current council inherited the issue, but challenged it to equalise the commercial rates with those of commercial operations outside the CBD.

“We want a reality check on the great disparity on commercial rates between the CBD and non CBD ratepayers.

“Council has been advised that the commercial rate disparity is unreasonable and contributes to the increasing number of vacant shops in the CBD.”

Mr Caldwell said the association called for an urgent review of the “outdated and antiquated commercial rating system”.

Council’s director of corporate and community services Craig Milburn said he and council were aware of concerns raised by Nowra CBD ratepayers about the difference in commercial rates.

“There is a difference in the rates applied to the Nowra CBD as opposed to Ulladulla CBD and rates in other business areas. That’s just a fact,” he said.

“Basically it’s a base rate plus so many cents in the dollar of the land value.

“The cents in dollar applied to the CBD in Nowra are higher than in Ulladulla and the general business rate.

“We are certainly aware of the issue and so are the councillors who are looking at it. 

“They have had a number of meetings with concerned ratepayers.

“Council is currently reviewing all the rates as at the moment, there are more briefings to go and we have no firm direction on the rates yet.

“I expect it will come out in draft form for public comment in April,” Mr Milburn said. 

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