Port Phillip Council’s proposed “Carlisle Street Special Rate” attracted several speakers for and against at the April 19 meeting.
The special rate is a levy collected from commercial properties within a defined geographic area. It goes solely towards the marketing, tourism, promotion, business development and centre management of the Carlisle Street business precinct.
The special rate would raise up to $200,000 per annum in each of the financial years from 2023-2024 to 2027-2028.
According to council the special rate is spread fairly among businesses. Residents and items such as ATM machines are exempt.
The City of Port Phillip currently has three special rate schemes in operation – Port Melbourne, Acland Street Village and Fitzroy Street.
Owner of Vainer Optical and deputy chair and treasurer of the Carlisle Street Traders Association (CSTA), Igor Vainer, said at the meeting the association promoted and marketed the street to help increase social interaction and economic spending.
Vainer, who supports the special rate, said the majority of businesses on Carlisle Street were family run and didn’t have access to large sums of money for marketing and promotion.
He said: “I think it’s extremely important to have this association to improve our area, and … more [importantly] as a conclusion, we cannot afford not to have it.”
Bruce Kennedy, a trader on Carlisle Street for 17 years, told the meeting there were empty stores, no banks, limited opportunity for cash withdrawals, and social and behavioural problems on Carlisle Street in Balaclava.
Kennedy said: “For council to wash their hands of responsibility by the emergence of a traders association that can never address the fundamental issues at play here is very disappointing.
“To impose a new charge, a new business cost on struggling businesses without addressing the actual issues is socially irresponsible.”
Ronald Serry said he was speaking on behalf of 17 traders who opposed the special rate.
He told the meeting: “The retailers in Melbourne are facing insurmountable problems and this levy that’s being proposed in all honesty is not going to make any difference.”
Regarding one councillor saying the levy might bring the street back to its “former glory”, Serry wasn’t convinced: “It’s very important to understand that the former glory days are gone and the issues facing our bricks and mortars now are quite major.”
Owner of Voodoo Love Child Speakeasy Bar, Jessica Robinett, said at the meeting she supported the special rate as it provided access to professional services such as marketing, social media, and PR.
“I know how to pour a drink, but I really don’t know anything about marketing and if someone could do that, it would free up a lot of my time.”Jessica Robinett
On February 6, 2023 council published a notice of the proposed special rate, with copies being sent to those liable to pay it.
During the consultation period - between February 6 and March 9, 2023 - from 245 eligible properties council received two submissions of support, two seeking “revision or exemption”, 22 valid objections and 17 invalid objections.
Under the law, any person required to pay the proposed special rate or charge is entitled to exercise the right of objection.
For an objection from an occupier/tenant to be valid under the law, documentary evidence is required to show the occupier/tenant will be required to pay the special rate or special charge as a condition of their lease. If this evidence was requested and not provided, an objection was determined to be invalid.
Council will make a decision on whether to declare the Carlisle Street Special Rate 2023 - 2028 at the meeting on May 17, 2023.