Beaudesert council rates are too high, say business owners

RIDICULOUS RATES: Caltex Beaudesert owners Jack and Tom Ray said council needs to lower the rates if they want to attract more retail business.

RIDICULOUS RATES: Caltex Beaudesert owners Jack and Tom Ray said council needs to lower the rates if they want to attract more retail business.

AFTER Scenic Rim council has decided to go easy on overdue rates for both businesses and households, some business owners say commercial rates should be lowered permanently if the town is to survive.

A council spokesperson defended council's rates structure.

"The rates set for various land use categories are based on the pressure those land uses place on community resources," the spokesperson said.

"Via its rates and charges, council collects the revenue required to provide necessary and expected services and infrastructure to support the Scenic Rim community now and into the future."

Ray Group director Jack Ray, who owns the Caltex service station at Oakland Estate, said rates in Beaudesert were obscenely high.

"We are paying $26,034 a year in rates, compared to $9284 we pay at our Rockhampton Caltex and $14,452 at Toowoomba, which is a substantially larger motor travel centre site," he said.

'We questioned council about the disproportionate rates several years ago. I even met with the Mayor and council was going to look into it.

"We haven't heard anything back and we just keep getting the same rates bills."

Mr Ray said rates were passed on to commercial tenants through the lease outgoings so Scenic Rim Regional Council's unreasonably high rates directly threatened the viability of local business operators.

"The unsustainable for us to attract any local operators to our centre to lease the four shops we have available and have been trying to fill since 2016 well before COVID-19 began," he said.

"We have been unable to lease these shops together with a already built vacant 71 sqm tenancy between Red Rooster and Caltex as we consistently get told by prospective retailers the rates are too expensive."

Red Rooster owner Neil McCosker said he paid more in rates at Beaudesert than any of his other seven stores.

"It's hard, times are tough," he said.

"We pay at least 20 per cent more in Beaudesert than anywhere else. The rates here are higher even than the Gold Coast."

With rates notices to be issued on July 28, Scenic Rim Mayor Christensen said residents and business operators experiencing financial difficulty should be aware of a wider range of rates assistance options.

"Council recognises that everyone's circumstances are unique, and we encourage any ratepayers who are experiencing hardship to contact Council to discuss the options available," he said.

"Where commercial operators believe they are facing financial hardship, they can apply for relief under Council's rates assistance options.

"For the first time, as part of the Scenic Rim Economic Stimulus Package 2: COVID-19, Council has extended its Financial Hardship Policy on overdue rates and charges to include all ratepayers including commercial operators.

"These are tough times for many in our community and those struggling need to know that support is available," Cr Christensen said.

"Council continues to provide rates relief for drought-affected primary producers, whose rated property is their primary source of income.

"We also continue to offer approved landowners directly impacted by the Scenic Rim bushfires in late 2019 the ability to defer their January and July 2020 rates payments until December 31.

"Residents and business operators wishing to access rates assistance as a result of the impacts of drought, bushfire or COVID-19 will need to make direct contact with council."