Warkworth BID clears first hurdle

Members of One Warkworth (OW) have given the association a clear mandate to investigate the introduction of a Business Improvement District (BID).

This will be Warkworth’s third attempt to introduce the compulsory annual rate to promote economic development and business growth, which is levied on commercial and industrial landowners.

About 22 people plus OW committee members attended the organisation’s annual general meeting, held at The Bridgehouse on August 26, and they voted unanimously in favour of pursing the BID investigation.

Several landholders who had vehemently opposed the BID in 2016 spoke in favour of the proposal this time around. The mood of the meeting was that the timing for a BID was right, given the amount of growth forecast for Warkworth over the next 20 years.

Accountant Simon Withers said it was a sound idea because the association was too vulnerable if it had to rely solely on sponsors. Businessman Peter Thompson said that over the last three years, the association had been well run and it was very important to maintain it in a viable manner. Landholder Al

Mason said the BID would be fairer because everyone who benefited from the association’s work would be contributing.

One Warkworth estimates that only about half the businesses in Warkworth are currently members of the association.

If the BID proceeds, the voluntary membership system will cease and in its place will be a compulsory flat fee of $500 per commercial property within the future urban zone. Landlords will have the choice as to whether or not they pass on the charge to tenants.

One Warkworth estimates this will raise around $136,000 annually, which will be topped up with associate memberships from outside Warkworth, memberships from businesses that don’t have shop fronts such as tradespeople, and sponsorship.

“As Warkworth grows, the base funding will also grow,” One Warkworth chair Chris Murphy said.

One Warkworth will put a proposal to the Rodney Local Board in December and if that is adopted, it will run a postal vote on the BID, possibly in March. All landholders and commercial tenants in the designated BID area will be eligible to vote, regardless of whether or not they are members of One Warkworth.

The association needs 25 per cent of eligible voters to vote, and 12.5% of voters to support the proposal to get the BID over the line.

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