BIG HIT: Stallholders at this year's Rockhampton River Festival are being hit with a 20% increase in costs.
BIG HIT: Stallholders at this year's Rockhampton River Festival are being hit with a 20% increase in costs. Allan Reinikka ROK120715ariverfe

Suprise fee hike forces Rocky business owners to rethink

STALLHOLDERS at the 2017 Rockhampton River Festival are being slugged with increased $100 site hire fees, a move the council says is necessary to ensure the event continues to grow without increasing the level of council support.

Fees have also increased by $20 or 57% for a 15amp power outlet.

Rockhampton Regional Council CEO, Evan Pardon said the increase in fees for this year's festival was in line with national events of this size and the major event drew crowds upwards of 26,000 people.

"Council is using a business model for the Rockhampton River Festival fees and charges as stall holders can profit significantly during the three-day event," he said.

Scott Burrage and his wife Kylie travelled from Mackay to last year's River Festival to sell wooden prints and engraved chopping boards.

They share a stall with Mr Burrage's parents who make wooden toys.

A little burnt after last year's washout, the couple are undecided whether to come back this year.

But Mr Burrage said a $100 price hike in stall hire would probably influence their decision.

He said for a double site at a large market they would normally expect to pay between $80 - $120.

"That's a fair hike and it would definitely make us think twice," Mr Burrage said.

"It's getting harder to make money at markets.

"A lot of people go to look and don't buy, so we have to be careful which markets we choose, and then we have to compete.

"This would probably lean us towards not going to the River Festival this year."

The RRC proposed fees and charges schedule for 2017/18 was approved at this week's council meeting with mostly modest increases of between 1-3%.

However, the majority of the region's halls also had a hike in hire fees of up to 10%.

Exceptions were Bauhinia House and Schotia Place, which remain unchanged.

It was a different matter for Calliungal Youth Centre - The Green Shed - in Mt Morgan, which will have a hire charge reinstated after previously having no charges attached.

Mr Pardon said the charge was reinstated to help the council maintain the building and for operational costs.

"The Calliungal Youth Centre is used mainly by government funded agencies such as Relationships Australia and the fees make a very small contribution to offsetting some of those costs," Mr Pardon said.



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