Rate rebate for Gulf developer

REBATE: Heritage listed, the old Town Hall has been neglected for the past 30 years.
REBATE: Heritage listed, the old Town Hall has been neglected for the past 30 years.

Almost five months after an unsuccessful rate rebate appeal on the Old Town Hall property, developers at Gulf Group have once again pleaded their case for a review on the matter.

Gulf Group’s Jeevan Deut appeared before Port Augusta City Council’s Operations Committee in relation to the Old Town Hall and Fire Station Site, the old District Courthouse, and vacant land previously occupied by the Police Station.

The review comes after the Group appealed to the Valuer General regarding the original valuations of the properties.

The original value of the site generated $52,833 in rates per year. The five properties have now been amalgamated to one assessment, reducing the site value substantially.

In turn, the rates have dropped by over $45,000 to just $4,904 per annum. 

The Operations Committee moved to approve a 75 per cent rate rebate against the 2017/2018 rates for the assessments – bringing the property rates down from $4,904 to just over $1,200.

Taking the enormous loss of revenue into consideration, Mayor Sam Johnson weighed up the potential of the development against the now much smaller rate rebate package.

The Group plan to transform the site into what they call ‘the heart of the CBD’ – installing four and a half star accommodation, a twin cinema, retail space and a collaborative office hub. 

“I’m not the biggest fan of rate rebates,” Mr Johnson said.

“But I believe we as a community are just tired of seeing that old building, we are tired of walking past it and seeing countless broken windows.

“For the sake of a couple thousand dollars for the next financial year … We as a Council have got to stand up and show some leadership.”

Mr Johnson’s sentiments were echoed by Councillor Brown who said Council need to invest in investors to see the town grow.

Councillor Paynter was the only member against the rate rebate, questioning the impact the development may have on existing businesses.

Reluctant to grant the rebate at the risk of seeing the property continue to sit idle, the potential of implementing key performance indicators (KPI) was once again brought forward.

Building stabilisation work on the heritage listed property is estimated to cost around $1.65 million alone.

Frustrated by continual set backs, Mr Deut said he would be happy to comply with any KPIs outlined by Council.

“I can’t for the life of me think of a fairer way to collaborate than by offering you give, I give and we come together,” he said.

“This has been a frustrating point for the last 12-18 months that nobody has seemed to understand, or want to understand, the challenges – and there are many challenges.

“Without your assistance we are not going to get it to where it needs to be.”