How is our CBD surviving?


Over the past ten years, the CBD Business owners have been wearing the costs for owning a property within the CBD, while more and more businesses move out, with little to no help from Council.  Presently there is a ratio of approx. 6 to 1 of Commercial rates to Residential rates, put simply if you own a standard ¼ acre residential section you will be paying around $2000 in rates, as verse a commercial property the same size will be paying $12000.  Do you feel this is fair?

Council within this period has also decided to add SUIP’s, which in simple terms means if you have more than one tenant in your property then you get charged additional UAGC rates, which for some properties this can increase that same property rates above to approx. $20,000. This huge increase can no longer be ignored, council should find more proactive solutions to support our local brick-and-mortar retailers, without such approach our CBD will die, and unemployment will rise.

I believe it is an irresponsible stance to milk local businesses dry just to compensate for the perceived ‘lack of funding’. As ratepayers, business owners or family budgeters we all work within our means, to ensure we don't overspend. Why should the Council be any different? Savings can be made, efficiency created, the council just needs to change its attitude.

Presently our Councils, take approximately $3m from our CBD (Properties included within Walton Street, Bank Street and Dent Street) on rates.  Our business owners get very little support from Council for that money, with less than 800 carpark where Okara (a private development) has over 3,000 for the same size area, the CBD has no free rubbish collection and streets that are not kept clean.  It is no wonder that our CBD is struggling.

The CBD is a community space, a business centre, an employment hub and so much more. Why is it that Council sees this as a cow to be milked dry? I feel that something needs to change for if you consider the overhead fees of rental spaces, wages, legislation versus a store’s daily earnings, you'd see how it has grown disproportionately unfair and it's no wonder businesses are leaving the CBD like a ship taking on water.

As a community, I feel we should prioritize new policies to foster entrepreneurship and good business measures in Whangarei, which is why I would like to see the CBD business rates halved over the next three years, with that money going into events and activities led by the business community to drive people back into the town. And yes that includes more parking.