Members of Leeton’s business community have raised concerns about fees proposed by council on sidewalk displays.
The fees form part of the proposed draft 2018/19 operational plan and budget. Councillors and staff took time to hear community concerns at a public session on Thursday night.
The suggested move proposes placing a fee on business owners for sidewalk displays, including a-frame signage or alfresco dining.
Leeton Chamber of Commerce President Matt Gatt said chamber was concerned about the excess in cost, but would be happy to negotiate.
“Members were really worried about the excess in the cost of the fees. In some cases, the fees were a little bit ridiculous. Some would have to pay between $300 – 500,” he said.
During the meeting, councillors listened to a range of community submissions. They will meet for formal discussion about the report on June 27.
Leeton Shire Mayor Paul Maytom commended speakers for bringing their questions and worries to the table. He also thanked them for their time spent volunteering hours in the community.
“I believe that after listening to the concerns of the community and the presentations made last night, we believe we can come up with a satisfactory outcome.”
Mr Gatt said chamber was willing to fees with council, and suggested a flat rate like the one currently in place in Narrandera.
“I’m happy to negotiate with council and find a better deal for us all,” he said.
“I understand council need to be fair across the board. They can’t just say business owners. You don’t want them to focus on a lone group – if they increase it incrementally as they go, it could work better.”
We’re just concerned that such a big change so quickly deters business owners.”
A response put out to meeting attendees described the fee as a “standard fee for most councils”.
“The idea of imposing this fee is to manage what shopkeepers are placing there and ensuring that these items to not hinder pedestrians,” the sheet read.
Mr Gatt said he felt the meeting was positive and respectful.
“i think it was very positive, not even the sessions that pertain to Chamber. Everyone who presented was pretty good,” he said.
“They offered a lot of solutions. No one was outrageous. Everyone listened and the councillors seemed deeply concerned, enough so to take time out to deliberate.”