‘Special rate’ rejected


Shane Walsh

Te Awamutu landlords have rejected taking on a special rate which would have provided funding to promote retail business in the town centre.

Voting forms went out to 96 business owners, and when voting closed at 5pm on Monday, 29 had responded.

Of those, 18 owners had said no to the proposed Business Improvement District rate, 11 said yes.

All told, 67 landlords did not respond, and to have jumped the first hurdle and have the proposal included in the draft Long Term Plan, the Te Awamutu Business Chamber-backed proposal required a 30 per cent response rate with 60 per cent support from within that cohort.

While the responses received did represent the required 30 percent response rate, only 37 percent of respondents voted in favour, therefore scuttling the proposal.

Chamber chief executive Shane Walsh knew the writing was on the wall when he spoke to The News last week.

Walsh – who took on the chamber chief executive role last year and now also chairs both Go Waipa and Destination Te Awamutu – said on Tuesday he was disappointed, but respected what business owners had told the chamber.

Liz Stolwyk

He said the chamber wouldn’t rule out another vote on the proposed rate in the future “when the timing is better”.

“There is a large group of progressive, forward-thinking retailers in town who are passionate about ways they can promote and enhance Te Awamutu businesses.

“I’m disappointed for them.”

He still believed the concept of a Business Improvement District rate was a good one which was working well in other centres around New Zealand.

“While we didn’t quite get there here in Te Awamutu, the results were closer than initial returns suggested. As a chamber we will take these results and analyse them to see what we can learn from them.”

Deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk, who last month told Walsh at a Finance and Corporate committee meeting she hoped he and the chamber had done the background work because staff spent time investigating the proposal, said she applauded any initiative to help create vibrancy in central business districts.

“However, on this occasion the support from landlords just wasn’t there. It is unfortunate that the level of business support wasn’t gauged before staff invested time in the process, but asking for feedback from property owners was the right thing to do,” she said.

At the heart of the plan was a suggestion that central business landlords accept an eight per cent rate rise to raise $50,000 in its first year which would be administered by the chamber to run promotions such as this week’s Black Friday Blow Out event.

The chamber argued the rate would be an investment which would pay for itself.


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Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith completed a Bachelor of Communications, majoring in journalism – and also gained a national diploma in journalism – from Wintec.