Council cuts business rates

Farmland rates rise

THERE is some good news for local businesses with Cooma-Monaro Shire Council cutting business rates for 2014-2015.

However, those who own farmland or pay rural residential rates will be hit with an increase.

The new rates were set at a special meeting last Wednesday where the council adopted its community strategic plan and budget for the next financial year.

Council has adopted an overall rate increase of 2.3 per cent for the 2014-2015 year.

However, each year the overall pool of rates has to be allocated between the three categories of Business, Residential, and Farmland and it is up to Council to determine the allocation, based on a number of factors, including the capacity of each category to pay and the benefit they receive.

After community consultation, Council decided to ease the burden on Cooma businesses by reducing their contribution by two per cent.

During the community consultation for the Community Strategic Plan, local businesses believed rates for their category were too high. This is supported by Office of Local Government comparative figures which suggest average Cooma Business rates are amongst the highest in the State, and substantially higher than neighbouring Councils.

By comparison, Cooma's average Farmland rates are amongst the lowest in the State.

"While Council is often criticised for not listening to the concerns of rate payers, this is a clear example of action as a result of rate payer comments and communication," Mayor Dean Lynch said.

Over the past three years, small adjustments have been made to the Cooma Business rating category to reduce the burden on these rate payers. In 2011 / 2012, the Cooma business sector were contributing 24.5 per cent of the overall rates burden, which will now drop to 20 per cent with the adoption of the 2014 / 2015 rates. In dollar terms, this means that collectively, Cooma businesses are contributing $301,000 less today than they would have, had the reductions not been made.

Council will be undertaking further work in the coming months to develop a 10 year strategy in relation to its allocation of rates. This will give clearer direction to all rate payers as to the burden their category is likely to pay now and into the future.

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