Accommodation providers reach pedestal tax tipping point
ONE Warwick business manger has taken her "ongoing frustration" to council as she begs for financial support to keep doors open.
McNevins Warwick Motel manager Debbie Bender penned a letter to Southern Downs Regional Council asking for 2020/21 pedestal charges to be "significantly reduced or waived" due to coronavirus stripping the local accommodation industry of income.
Pedestal charges are the taxes applied to accommodation providers for each toilet on location, regardless of the occupancy rate.
Mrs Bender said the fees had always been a concern but pandemic closures had heightened the necessity for council action.
"The impact of COVID has been extremely negative with the sector in particular coming to a grinding halt due to travel restrictions, the cancellations of events and border closures," Mrs Bender wrote.
"Accommodation providers have taken the brunt of the hit with mass cancellations through the months of May, June and July, with the outlook for the last quarter looking dire.
"Currently rates are calculated on pedestals and on the assumption that motels sell a high percentage of rooms, which is not the case even in normal circumstances."
Mrs Bender was not alone in her cries for help.
Comfort Inn Warwick owner Peter Andrews said additional financial coronavirus support would be welcome.
Mr Andrews currently pays around $8500 a year for the pedestal tax.
"For three months we were very much down. Luckily, since the beginning of June, it's kicked back in again but any saving would be great," he said.
Mr Andrews said previous measures such as the waiving of accommodation licence fees and a rebate on rates had been an immense help for business during the downturn.
"That was a $750 bonus," he said.
"I understand they have to pay their bills as well, but to put it into the budget would be fantastic for us."
While on the agenda for yesterday's council meeting, Mrs Bender's letter was not discussed by councillors.
In May, Mayor Vic Pennisi hinted the second stage of economic recovery could include a reductions in pedestal charges but the public is yet to see a confirmed version.