Levy ‘unlikely’

By Olivia Duffey

A special rate variation to contribute to the Deniliquin Promotions Fund is ‘‘unlikely’’ to be reintroduced by Edward River Council.

While not off the table completely, Mayor Norm Brennan said he does not believe levying local businesses is the best way to continue supporting tourism attraction initiatives.

The original, three year business levy trial implemented by the former Deniliquin Council ended in 2018.

It was unable to be reintroduced by the new Edward River Council because of a rates freeze imposed by the NSW Government following its formation by merger in 2016.

The rate freeze will be lifted on June 30 this year, but Cr Brennan said other arrangements to fund promotional activities in the 2020-2021 financial year have already been made.

Council has allocated $50,000 from the Drought Communities Program fund to continue into 2020/21.

In the long term, Cr Brennan said council would try to limit the burden on businesses by keeping the levy off the table as long as it can.

‘‘It is currently not being considered, but council will need to explore long-term options to support the program that has undoubtedly been successful in its aims.

‘‘The business levy money was put straight into tourism based promotions which statistics show was outstanding and brilliant for businesses and the community.

‘‘It has shown increasing visitor numbers to the Edward River region, and in Deniliquin in particular, so we do want to continue this fund.’’

In the first financial year after the business levy ended, in 2018/19 council contributed $50,000 to the fund from its own reserves.

Cr Brennan said this would not be a sustainable option in the long term.

‘‘It meant money was being re-distributed to the fund and was taking away from other local projects,’’ he said.

‘‘Another option is to look as external funding.’’