Help for CBD businesses in draft budget

01 May 2018

Hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of savings would be passed on to businesses across Newcastle's city centre under a draft Newcastle City Council rate assistance plan.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes tabled tonight a draft amendment to Council's 2018-2019 Budget, designed to alleviate some of the financial pressure small and medium businesses are feeling due to the current light rail works in the CBD.

"Rate relief is one way we can help. The NSW government can also provide support to match Council's proposal," she said.

"Property owners have been largely protected from the financial impact of light rail, given struggling small businesses have continued to pay their rent while suffering income declines of more than 25 per cent in many cases.

"Furthermore, landlords are already benefiting from surging property values courtesy of the $650 million being invested in the construction of a light rail."

Currently, Newcastle City Council collects more than $850,000 a year through a special rate applied to commercial property owners in Newcastle across four precincts: Civic Precinct, Darby Street, East End and West End.

These funds are then dispersed for business improvement and promoting businesses throughout the CBD.

Under the Lord Mayor's proposal, Council would offer commercial property owners assistance of up to 50 per cent of the special rate if they committed in writing to pass the saving on to small businesses operating on their premises.

"The exact amount depends on the special rate calculated for each property - it varies depending on the property's value," the Lord Mayor explained.

In some cases, savings to small businesses could be up to $2000.

"If 100 per cent of properties were to seek the full 50 per cent rebate, that would amount to a total $429,000 in rate relief passed on to the CBD's small businesses," Cr Nelmes said.

"This is a one-off measure that would take effect when property owners are levied the special rate in July. The current system would resume for the 2019-2020 financial year.