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Rates may rise 30% for some businesses

Tiaro Industrial Complex owner Mel Harris is expecting a huge rates hike.
Tiaro Industrial Complex owner Mel Harris is expecting a huge rates hike. Robyne Cuerel

BUSINESSES may be hit with a 30% rates increase after an audit by the Fraser Coast Regional Council.

Following the audit and scrapping of the commercial rural category, businesses outside of the Maryborough and Hervey Bay area are expected to be slugged.

Tiaro businessman Mel Harris is expecting a general rate increase of 30% this year, but is worried it will reach an 80% rise in the next three years.

He also said the forced addition of water connections and wheelie bins meant a huge price hike.

Mr Harris and other business owners may expect more pain in the next few years, with Mayor Gerard O'Connell admitting the costs hadn't yet hit the full amount planned.

Cr O'Connell said any potential rise was "a year-on-year decision" the council would make.

"Rather than rise to the full amount - we took a decision at this particular budget that it would be capped at 30%," he said.

His property spans across four blocks but Mr Harris said the previous agreement with the council was to amalgamate them for rating purposes.

Mr Harris will now pay for several water connections rather than just the one he previously paid.

"$3108 dollars for $9 of water - that's the access charge," he said.

"If your lots are contiguous you should not have to pay more than one water rate."

And for years he's been using one set of wheelie bins and acknowledged it worked quite well.

"Now they want us to have five sets of wheelie bins- we don't need them and we don't want them," he said.

"$1650 a year for nothing.

"Our rates last year were $1400 or something and this year looks like it won't be far under $7000 - water, bins and rates.

"That's ridiculous."

Regardless, Mr Harris can't afford to look three years ahead as he now faces an uncertain future.

"I said to my wife you may have to go back to work, she's 65," he said.

Cr O'Connell said the charges were on a user-pays basis with a charge for annual access and then consumption.

"The State Government insisted we had equalisation in terms of our rating," he said.

He said the changes were part of an audit throughout the Fraser Coast to check properties and their connections.

"Equalisation across the region and a minimisation of the number of categories is key," he said.

Topics:  business, fraser coast regional council, hervey bay, maryborough, rates




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