Foster Sandy Point Korumburra

O’Brien to pursue rates slug for tourist operators

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, has written to the Minister for Planning seeking an explanation as to why small accommodation providers in South Gippsland are being slugged a higher levy of council rates and Fire Services Property Levy (FSPL).

The issue was raised with Mr O’Brien during his mobile electorate office visit in Foster this week.

The Valuer-General Victoria has advised councils of a change in valuation classifications that sees many small accommodation providers, in particular those with cabins, move from the residential to commercial classification.  This increases not only their council rates, but the level of fire services levy that they pay.

“This change in classification will see a significant increase in charges for some of these small businesses, many of which operate on small margins.  I’m told some might face a 30 to 40 per cent increase in charges,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Some are also part-time ventures in which the operators rely on external income.  A big increase in fees could drive some out of business and reduce the number and variety of accommodation options in South Gippsland.

“This change initially affected about 60 businesses in the South Gippsland Shire but I believe council has been able to reduce the impact on some.

“I have now written to the Minister for Planning, seeking an explanation as to why the classification has been changed and whether there is any flexibility that can be applied to ensure that small tourism operators are not unduly affected.”

The issue was one of several raised with Mr O’Brien during his “mobile electorate office” visit to Foster, held at Bromley’s on Main Café.  Other matters raised included local planning provisions, public transport, EPA regulations impacting on development at Sandy Point and calls for a new fire station at Foster.

“I’ve followed up each of these matters on behalf of my constituents and will ensure they get the attention they deserve,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Although I meet with people and visit local businesses and community groups on a daily basis, the mobile office visit is an opportunity for people to make an appointment to see me in their own town and raise issues of direct importance to them.

“I’ll be visiting a different town each month, with my July visit pencilled in for Korumburra.”

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