CITY of Stirling has thrown a $230,000 lifeline to Scarborough businesses struggling with the impact of the $100 million redevelopment works.
Councillors voted last night to provide a one off payment of $200,000 to small business owners and waive alfresco dining fee and the food business inspection fees worth about $30,000 for the 2017/2018 financial year.
Planning Minister Rita Saffioti announced in early May that the State Government would provide eligible businesses a land tax rebate, but the plan garnered a mixed response from business owners.
The State Government compensation package amounts to more than $250,000 across successful 17 applications.
Scarborough MLA Liza Harvey said she had “thrown her support” behind a push for further compensation for businesses, with a 2300 signature petition tabled to the Legislative Council this week.
Cr Karen Caddy, who pushed for the idea in May, said the options would apply to small local businesses only as they were bearing the brunt of disruption from works.
“We have debated this a number of times now and we are all aware this project has turned the beach into a construction site,” she said.
“This will be funded by savings so there is no net impact on the budget.
“The $230,000 we will be offering is less than half of one per cent of the project costs – it is a small amount in the context of the project.”
Cr Irwin said scrapping alfresco dining fees was a good choice because of access issues.
“Businesses are struggling, I couldn’t even walk past the front doors when I went down there,” he said.
“This is a temporary relief package to get through a tough time…it will benefit residents of the whole City, not just Scarborough.”
However, Cr Terry Tyzack said he disagreed with the plan, saying it would set a precedent.
“Many projects have impacted businesses, but we’ve never provided compensation for them,” he said.
“Landlords should be subsidising this because there will be huge increases in land value.”
Cr David Lagan said it was ratepayers who would be footing the bill.
“This project could have been staged…the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority (MRA) has issues with project completion and I don’t want to put the City or our ratepayers at risk,” he said.
Scarborough Sandbar owner Ben Randall, who had to close his business on weekdays said he was happy with the decision.
“While I’m still not sure of the full details, it is fantastic for the businesses,” he said.
“It didn’t come easily for our ward councillors – so we are lucky we have them in their position because it wouldn’t have happened without their persistence.”
Mr Randall said access and lack of signage were still issues at the foreshore but he planned to reopen fully after the September long weekend.
“There is still a long way to go – we are really optimistic that the end is pretty near and we can start planning for summer.”