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Businesses feel rate rise

Wednesday, 21st August, 2013

By Andrew Robertson

Shop owners at Centro Westside are set to feel the impact of City Council’s latest rates redistribution.

A spokesman for Federation Centres, formerly Centro Retail Australia, yesterday confirmed the full rate increase would be passed on to tenants.

Rates paid by business property owners increased by over 20 per cent this financial year as council begins to reduce its reliance on mine rate revenue.

Residential rates also rose by nine per cent under a plan adopted by council that saw the city’s two mining companies pay $870,000 less in rates.

Federation Centres general manager of external affairs Brandan Phillips said that under lease agreements tenants paid all external charges including rates.

“These rate costs are passed on to the tenant; that is part of the normal lease arrangement,” he said.

Ms Phillips, who wasn’t aware of the redistribution decision, said Federation tried to keep operating expenses in check wherever it could. 

“We’re keen to do anything we can to keep costs (low) and productivity as high as possible, but we can only do that on things we have any influence over.”

For Tony Lines, who owns Westside Newsagent, the rate rise will partly cancel out the small reduction in payments he negotiated as part of a new five-year lease.

After purchasing the newsagent 14 years ago with his wife, Mr Lines said he decided to return to mining seven years ago to help make ends meet. 

He said operating a business in Broken Hill was tough, and would only get tougher when the new shopping centre opened next year.

“Like anything else in Broken Hill I don’t think they know how hard it is for business,” he said.

“Basically we keep the shop going to keep the employees paid.”

The newsagent owner said people only had to look at how many privately-owned businesses were left in the plaza to get an idea of just how tough the industry had become.

“You look at shopping centres these days and how many privately-owned businesses are there?”

Another business owner last week said a tripling of rates in the past five years on top of the latest increase would prevent her business from growing.

Selina LaRovere-Nagas questioned the logic behind council’s decision to reduce mine rates, saying it should be making the most of them while it still can.

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