Council stealing from claim

In a scathing attack, Byron United president Ed Ahern has accused Byron Council of ‘stealing’ from the town’s business community.

Since 2005, $7 million has been raised in rates specifically from the Byron Bay CBD and Mr Ahern wants to know where the money has gone.

“The town is grubby and run down,” he said.

“No one can use the (public) toilets. You would never let your wife, mother or daughter use them.

“Maintenance in this town is disgusting and do you know why? They don’t want tourists. And do you know what? It’s working.

“No wonder our business is shrinking.

“Everyone is struggling. Business people are saying, ‘where are the people?’.

“Their (council) ideology is they are against tourism, and tourism is the only industry we have.”

Mr Ahern’s outburst came after receiving an answer from the council’s general manager, Graeme Faulkner, to a request from Byron United for information on the Byron Bay business centre rate income and money raised from footpath dining licences.

Figures provided by Mr Faulkner show $7,003,000 in rates has been collected from the business centre from 2005-06 to 2009-10, with $1.6 million collected in 2009-10.

In his reply, Mr Faulkner said the Byron Bay business centre rate formed part of the council’s general revenue and along with other general rate income, was used to assist meeting the council’s operational and capital expenditure on a yearly basis.

He said the rate income from the Byron Bay business centre was not held in a separate fund and the council did not identify particular expenditure items for funding from this source.

There were no business centre funds held in reserve, he said.

Figures provided by Mr Faulkner show $290,000 has been collected in Byron Bay footpath dining fees since 2004-05, with $157,000 of that spent in the same period.
Spending included $21,000 on Byron Bay New Year’s festiv

ities in 2005, $58,500 to help fund a disability officer from 2006-09, $41,000 transferred to council working funds to help mitigate the impact of the loss of Crown land caravan parks from the council’s control, $5900 towards the purchase of the old Telstra site in Mullumbimby, $15,200 for administration and $16,500 on Byron Bay toilets, lighting and town upgrade.

Mr Ahern described the council’s use of money collected from Byron Bay businesses as ‘disgraceful’.

“What about supporting us?” he said.

“When we went to do a campaign in winter, we asked them for $5000 last year and they laughed at us.

“They are stealing from us.

“The evidence is there in black and white from the general manager.”

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