LocalMatters       

One Warkworth pushes for BID

Posted at 2:58pm Monday 01 Jul, 2019

The proposed BID would apply to commercial properties coloured light and dark purple on the map. It would include areas still to be developed under the Warkworth structure plan.

One Warkworth Business Association will have a stab at introducing a Business Improvement District (BID), despite the fact that an attempt to introduce one three years ago bitterly divided the business community.

A BID would require owners of commercial buildings within a designated area to pay a targeted business rate via Auckland Council's quarterly rates bill.

Council would then forward 100 per cent of the targeted rate money to One Warkworth to advance business objectives in Warkworth.

One Warkworth chair Chris Murphy says the organisation's current method of funding itself is no longer sustainable.

Currently, One Warkworth has a budget of about $100,000 per annum, but only about $35,000 of this comes from membership fees. The rest comes from 22 sponsors who chip in about $3000 each.  

So far, the budget has successfully covered all One Warkworth's activities, including paying for a part-time manager and support staff.

However, One Warkworth believes it can't continue to rely on sponsors and any kind of economic downturn would mean support would quickly dry up.

“All it would take is a little bit of recession and One Warkworth would be on its knees. We would be laying off staff and we would not be able to do half of what we are currently doing,” deputy chair Mark Macky says.

In 2016, the Warkworth Area Business Association (WABA), tried to introduce a BID, but was bitterly opposed by the rival Warkworth Commercial and Industrial Association (WCIA).

When business owners voted on whether to accept the WABA BID proposal, more than 70 per cent rejected the idea.

The debacle led to a shake up of WABA. The entire committee resigned, a new committee was installed and WABA's name was changed to One Warkworth.

But Mr Murphy and Mr Macky are confident a similar situation will not recur. This is because WABA proposed that the targeted rate would be based on the capital value of the commercial property attracting the rate, which proved hugely unpopular.

One Warkworth instead proposes that each property attracts a flat fee of $500+gst.

If several tenants share a building, and the landlord passes the fee on to them, the $500 would be split between the tenants.

Mr Murphy says the revised formula is precisely the one many in the WCIA advocated three years ago.

He adds that One Warkworth has spoken to several vehement opponents of the original BID proposal and discovered they would be in favour of the new proposal.

To advance the BID, One Warkworth intends to consult more widely with business owners to gauge their support.

“If we get a violent adverse reaction, then we will pull back and we will need to rethink. But we are confident we have got it right,” Mr Murphy says.

If all goes to plan, the One Warkworth committee will propose that it starts the BID establishment process at its annual general meeting on August 21.

One Warkworth will then seek approval of the BID from the Rodney Local Board after Board elections in October.

Assuming approval is forthcoming, commercial property owners and tenants will likely get the chance to vote on whether to accept the BID via a postal ballot around March next year.

It is anticipated the proposed BID would raise about $130,000 annually.

In a leaflet outlining the BID proposal, One Warkworth says that a strong business association will be critical as Warkworth expands rapidly over the next 20 years.

“The squeeze on infrastructure has the potential to grind business activity to a halt, while the growing market has the potential to accelerate demand for goods and services exponentially,” the leaflet says.

“A strong business association will collectively and efficiently help local businesses deal with the challenges and capitalise on the opportunities.”

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