Lismore’s successful Come to the Heart campaign is set to continue after the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) yesterday approved a variation to the council’s rate cap, enabling it to continue charging a Special Business Rate Variation Levy (SBRVL).
The levy partially funds Lismore’s city centre revitalisation project, helping to increase activity in the CBD and boost economic growth.
According to IPART, the approved increase of 3.82 per cent (0.42 per cent above the rate peg) will replace the existing special variation and will be paid by only two categories of business ratepayers: CBD and urban businesses.
‘Average rates across all categories will increase broadly in line with the 3.4 per cent rate peg increase available to all councils,’ the approval says.
The IPART decision follows on from positive business feedback for the SBRVL generally and the Come to the Heart marketing campaign in particular.
In January the council circulated affected businesses and asked for feedback on their proposal to continue the SBRVL, which has been running for three years.
They held a focus group representing affected businesses and Southern Cross University’s School of Business conducted an assessment of the Come to the Heart program.
The preliminary results of the SCU survey showed that from 89 business surveys processed, the majority of businesses were in favour of continuing the additional SBRVL, with 65 (73 per cent) agreeing.
‘This is excellent news not just for businesses in Lismore but the city as a whole,’ Lismore Business Promotion Panel chairperson Brent McAlister said of the IPART approval.
‘We know that having a vibrant CBD plays a big role in a thriving economy. We want our CBD to attract people into Lismore and this has a ripple effect for all businesses.
‘Our new City Centre Manager, Renee Moehead, started earlier this year and the SBRVL approval will enable her to boost the promotion of the CBD through current promotions as well as develop new events and activities to entice people into the heart of our city.’
The SBRVL of $106,500 per annum will be used to promote businesses and activities in the CBD, such as Mothers Day promotions, the annual stocktake sale, the Back Alley Gallery, markets, concerts and more.
IPART Chairman Dr Peter Boxall said, ‘based on Lismore City Council’s application, we estimate in 2013/14 that the average business rate in the inner CBD will increase by $247, the urban business rate by $127, and the average residential rate will rise by $35.’
Dr Boxall said special variations are designed to give councils the flexibility to generate additional income above the rate peg to meet their specific needs, with an independent assessment process to determine if the increase is realistic, justifiable and affordable.
The full report on the Lismore City Council application is available on the IPART website at www.ipart.nsw.gov.au.