City councillors to consider new-look business proposal as traders' levy goes to the vote

The proposed traders levy plan has been altered after drawing the ire of Warrnambool City traders.
The proposed traders levy plan has been altered after drawing the ire of Warrnambool City traders.

WARRNAMBOOL City councillors will vote on a significantly altered version of the controversial traders levy at tonight’s council meeting. 

The proposed levy would be collected via council rates providing funds to Commerce Warrnambool. 

The plan had drawn the ire of traders, with many saying it was too expensive and the group’s business plan lacked any detail of exactly how the money would be spent. 

At the July council meeting, councillors voted to defer the implementation process of the levy until September 30 in order to allow more time for Commerce Warrnambool to consult and devise a new business plan.  Councillors will tonight vote whether or not to give notice of a revised special rate and call for formal submissions and objections, which will be open until November 3.  

The original proposed rate would have collected $600,000 each year for five years, increasing by five per cent each year. The maximum business contribution would have been $6000. The revised levy still runs for five years, but halves the amount collected to $300,000 and proposes a three per cent increase each year. 

The maximum business contribution would also be reduced to $300 under the new proposal. 

Commerce Warrnambool proposes the money raised will be spent on a series of promotional campaigns at a cost of $80,000, including a car giveaway, Christmas promotion and spring produce competition. Also planned are business development, networking and education programs ($40,000), television, radio, newspaper and online advertising and branding ($85,000) and costs associated with employing an executive officer and rent of office space ($95,000). 

Warrnambool Traders Action Group spokeswoman Amanda Lowen said the group would reserve any comments about the changes until after tonight’s council meeting. 

“We will then seek the opinion of Warrnambool traders as to whether they approve of the new motion, should it be passed. Until we see a consensus from business otherwise, our current stance will remain unchanged,” Mrs Lowen said.