SOUTH Gippsland residents who offer accommodation as a sideline – through a few cabins or a small bed and breakfast operation – are fearful that the Valuer-General’s changes to the classification of their properties will see their costs rise substantially.
For some it could mean the difference between whether or not they continue to offer accommodation.
The residents are concerned that classifying their properties as ‘commercial’ rather than ‘residential’ will sting them twice – their rates will rise in accordance with the council’s rating differential strategy and so will their fire service levies, possibly by as much as several thousand dollars a year.
Once they were advised of the changes, a number of affected residents approached South Gippsland Shire Council and asked for understanding when the changes are rolled out at a local level and Council rules on what constitutes ‘commercial’ and what is ‘residential.’ They would like Council to take into account the size of tourist accommodation businesses and their value when they determine classifications.
In many cases the residents have just a few cabins or perhaps one spare bedroom in which accommodation is offered. They feel they are being unfairly penalised for running what is little more than a hobby.
Prom Country Regional Tourism has put in a submission to Council’s rating strategy on behalf of its members and a few individuals are believed to have put in submissions, too.
“Naturally, anything that has the potential to have an impact on tourism concerns Prom Country Regional Tourism,” said Prom Country Regional Tourism chair Philip Botté. “We are certainly advocating for our members to ensure nothing adversely affects their businesses and, in turn, the tourism industry in South Gippsland.”
Mr Botté said that Prom Country Regional Tourism was also talking to the Victorian Tourism Industry Council and Destination Gippsland with regard to those bodies lobbying the State Government about how it goes about rating very small commercial enterprises.