The new Grafton Chamber of Commerce president Katie Kelemec.
The new Grafton Chamber of Commerce president Katie Kelemec. Tim Howard

Chamber rejects council's SRV approval

THE Grafton Chamber of Commerce wants to make one thing clear: it does not support the Special Rate Variation (SRV).

>> RELATED STORY: Councillors backflip on election promises to introduce SRV

Chamber president Katie Kelemec said based on feedback the chamber was concerned there was a perception in the community that it supported the SRV.

"We are strongly opposed to the SRV," Ms Kemelec said. "We put in a submission to council in November 2016, voicing our opposition to the SRV and we also put in a submission letter before the meeting (April 18, 2017) voicing our strong opposition to it as well on behalf of the community."

Mark Butler from the chamber added it was concerned about the lack of genuine community consultation.

"And the fact it came up so quickly in the meeting minute notes. There was a very short timeframe to do a submission on it, basically one business day," Mr Butler said.

"We do support council in a lot of ways but certainly are opposed to the direction they are taking with the SRV and the reduction of other services and areas within council that are going to dramatically affect both business and the community at large.

"Eight per cent over three years at 25.9% in real figures in three years time, when you extrapolate those figures out it has a real affect on businesses."

Ms Kelemec said the rate rise will not only affect people's businesses, but their homes, putting further strain on the community.

"We're talking about affecting three-fold; home, businesses and then the products that you buy in town will increase to cater for that increase in rates," she said.

"We are concerned for local businesses and the community as a whole because this is a significant rise."

Ms Kemelec requested council consult further with the chamber and community stakeholders.

"If you want to increase the rates, how are you going to use that money to benefit the community?

"That's the sort of consultation we were looking for. Maybe the community would be more understanding of what was going on if they knew the background."

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