CBD rates soar 60%: Chamber

FIGURES indicating general rate increases of close to 60 percent in the Rose City’s CBD have been released by the Warwick Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Taking a snapshot of three commercial and industrial businesses in the city centre, Chamber president David Littleproud said he had found an individual case where one ratepayer will pay nearly $5000 extra per year in rates.

Southern Downs Regional Council Mayor Ron Bellingham made no secret of the fact Warwick businesses would be stung in the 2011-12 budget, which was released on Monday.

The commercial and industrial rating category was of particular concern because council last year pledged to bring Warwick in line with Stanthorpe, which was previously on a higher rate in the dollar.

This means for many businesses in the south, there will be a reduction in rates as Stanthorpe’s CBD sector previously paid 1.887 cents in the dollar and this year will pay 1.220.

Warwick CBD previously paid 0.7747 and will this year also pay 1.220 cents in the dollar.

Yesterday Mr Littleproud provided real life examples based on figures provided by members, one of which estimated a property valued at $325,000 would increase its general rates from $2517.77 last year to $3965.00 this year – an increase of $1447.23. He gave two other similar examples.

Mr Littleproud said people also needed to be aware this was only the general rate and did not include sewerage or waste charges, which could make the figure look considerably worse.

While, the figures were worked out from last year’s state valuations, many of which have changed this year, Cr Bellingham said the 57.5 percent didn’t sound far from the truth.

“I guess it doesn’t come as any surprise to the business community,” he said.

“This council is fully aware, in the efforts to equalise rates between Stanthorpe and Warwick it’s always going to be difficult.”

He said the impact would have been more staged if valuations had been done in a timely manner over the past several years.

He said both Chambers of Commerce were involved in the Rating Consultation Committee which had worked through these issues and were made well aware of them.

However, Mr Littleproud was critical of council for not making the business community aware of the severity of the impact and said, on the committee, only the categories were discussed, not the actual figures.

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