Business rate raises hackles

Lismore Council general manager Paul O’Sullivan told a room full of business people to “go to Ballina” if they were unhappy with the higher rates in Lismore.

Mr O’Sullivan made the comment at a meeting on Wednesday, March 24, where Council was trying to get support from the business community for a proposed rate rise of 0.44%.

Lismore real estate agent Paul Deegan showed the forum two similar-sized business premises, one in Lismore valued at $236,000 that would cost $9616 in rates and one in Ballina valued at $475,000 which had rates of only $2662.

“There’s no way to sugar coat it, commercial rates in this town are some of the highest in NSW. That’s the way it is,” Mr Deegan said.

Mr O’Sullivan’s response was that Lismore City Council spent a lot more than Ballina.

“Tenants in this town don’t care about that. A lot are paying full rates and in some cases it’s 25% of the cost of the premises for the year. In Ballina it can be as low as 3-5%,” Mr Deegan said.

Mr O’Sullivan later apologised for his “inappropriate” remark.

Mr Deegan is in the process of collecting some more statistics and rates comparisons and plans to “throw them on the table” at the next meeting, which was yesterday(Wednesday, March 31).


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