I have recently read in the publication Ballina It’s our lifestyle that Ballina Council has applied to the NSW state government for an eight per cent business rate levy for all businesses in the Ballina shire. The business levy, which has been devised with the Business Chambers in Lennox, Ballina and Alstonville (or so it is reported) is to be used for marketing, development and promotion activities, business development initiatives and town revitalisation projects.
Without doubt, Ballina Shire businesses should object en masse to this outrageous tax on business. In case the councillors of the shire missed the event, businesses in the shire are now in their post-apocalyptic GFC event-recovery phase (which is further worsened by the current political climate) and cannot afford to pay yet another tax that will doubtlessly be frittered away on ill-conceived, badly managed and underfunded projects – such as this one!
My first area of concern that is mentioned in the article is that Council will be handling the marketing, development and promotion activities. Frankly, name one person in Council with any skill in this area? Please show me the strategic partnerships that have been developed by Council with international and domestic partners over the years? Please show me the résumé of the person/s who would be handling this who have real-world experience in this area of specialised expertise.
The area of business development initiatives is also to be handled by Council and funded from this scheme – which as Ballina Council is the most anti-business Council in NSW – seems counterintuitive! How many businesses have been driven out of Ballina by the council over the last eight years? And how many have been shut out of the shire by Council’s red tape, inefficiencies, punitive actions and costly abuse of power to ordinary citizens trying to make their business work.
Further, why should the businesses of the shire pay for ‘town revitalisation projects’ when businesses already contribute by way of Section 94 fees, and endless application costs to do anything including open the doors.
Lastly the council has undertaken to have the entire fund overseen by the general manager to ensure appropriate expenditure and acquittals – meaning jumping through more hoops, missed opportunities, frustrations at every turn.
The general manager reportedly earns $275,000 per annum. I have a better idea: why don’t we sack him, pay someone $150,000 per annum in keeping with the wage structure of other general managers of small shires such as Ballina and use the balance of the wages as the Business Promotions Fund for Ballina Shire.
Business owners please be angry about this – and speak to your misguided Chamber of Commerce representative to have this stopped now.
Sean Jenkins, Kayak Hire and Tours, Lennox Head