ORANGE Business Chamber members have demanded greater value for money for business rates after Orange City Council rated among the most expensive for councils of its type.
According to the Comparative Information on NSW Local Government 2012-13, released by the Division of Local Government last week, Orange’s average business rates were listed as $5131.60 for that year, compared with the group average of $3168.15.
Even among the Evocities councils, including Bathurst, Dubbo, Wagga, Albury, Armidale and Tamworth, Orange had the second-highest average business rates after Albury and the second-lowest number of active businesses after Armidale.
Orange Business Chamber president Tony Healey said, especially with Bathurst businesses paying only $3995.35 on average, Orange businesses did not receive value for money.
Mr Healey argued more should be spent on infrastructure in the central business district (CBD), including street lighting, and prospective businesses should receive an information pack to help them comply with development requirements.
“Like the Bunnings saga, it’s taken over a year to move and they’re still trying,” he said.
“If someone in business was looking at the rate in Orange compared to the group rate, you would think twice about it - that’s why Bathurst is getting more businesses than Orange.”
Blowes Real Estate director Gary Blowes said a small CBD meant higher commercial property prices and consequently higher rates - he argued commercial vacancies had been created after mining construction at Cadia Valley Operations slowed down.
“But I think rates would account for less than 10 per cent of the rent charged - it’s not the rates that are stopping people from opening,” he said.
Orange City Council spokesman Nick Redmond said NSW Treasury Corp had rated Orange’s financial position as sound, which only 22 per cent of councils across the state achieved.
Mr Redmond said council achieved the result because it charged sustainable rates. “We’re not delivering massive surpluses, we’re delivering generally small surpluses and that’s the cost of delivering services,” he said.
Mr Redmond said council had invested in measures like CCTV cameras to address anti-social behaviour and was investigating additional lighting measures.
He said information was available for prospective business owners with questions about development applications and approval times averaged 30 days.