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FROM THE EXAMINER: "There is plenty of action going on behind the scenes across Launceston's central business district.
From the work underway to revitalise Civic Square to refurbishment of shops and renovations to encompass inner-city living, confidence is high, according to builders.
Tas City Building director Steven Simeoni said work has increased quite a bit in the central city with tenancies being upgraded and real estate selling fast.
"I have about three mainland clients now that are investing in Launceston and that's only a recent thing, my main one, who has a fair bit of property, he researched Hobart then he looked a bit further and Launceston was just really well priced and he has made a lot of money already," Mr Simeoni said.
"All the builders that we deal with are pretty busy and there is more work coming as well. We have two more jobs in town and there is a big St John Street opportunity for someone [at] the Tatler arcade."
There is value for money by building, refurbishing or buying in Launceston, according to Mr Simeoni.
"There's a lot of inner-city living as well, we are building two big units in Charles Street and the council's inner-city living opportunity is helping," he said.
Launceston Chamber of Commerce president Tim Holder said it was a very different building environment than four years ago.
"Architects and builders are busier than they can remember in recent times and this can be further evidence by some trades charging record hourly rates, such as electricians, just due to the amount of work," he said.
"There is a really deep sense of optimism in the minds of people who live here but also people who are choosing to relocate here."
Mr Holder said there were several architectural firms working on apartment block plans both within the CBD and close to the city.
AirBnB is also impacting the market, especially with cottages and properties with close proximity to the CBD, with quality property tight and selling fast, he said.
In terms of retail development, Mr Holder said the only limit was the supply of premises.
"Bernard Salt noted recently in Launceston, that unlike Tasmania and Australia in aggregate, Launceston is losing retail jobs, and is out of sync," he said. "We should carefully consider how this is the case and if development is too hard in Launceston."…"
AND ON THE FLIP SIDE: The Council is spending $20Million of ratepayers' money that it borrowed for 5 years from the State Govt. This money hasn't dropped in from Mars and ratepayers will have to pay it back via their rates as no alternative income source has been identified.
The story seems to be that the Treasurer was handing out interest free loans and Launceston Council's management put Council's hand up for $9Million that was approved by Council after the fact and apparently under the provisions of SECTION 62 of the Act. Then it gets a bit fuzzy as management seems to have accepted an additional $11Million to fund the City Heart Project and that by some accounts was something of a surprise to the aldermen.
Sure, there is quite a bit of construction activity in the city but why is it that ratepayers are to fund this via their rates when no alternative source of income to be directed to that purpose has been identified? It needs to remembered that a great many Launcestonians are not exactly flush with funds currently.
When something like 50% of the city's residents and ratepayers are in receipt of some form of social benefit how has this been taken into account in the decision to borrow to this extent?
It appears as if the money has been borrowed in the hope that some of it will stick to someone – or rub off on them. If this passes for sound fiscal planning how can it be? In fact, why aren't the city's ratepayers hearing from their aldermen with explanations. Some even stood for Council taking up their business acumen and the Mayor is a Chartered Accountant as is/was Ald. McKenzie.
And speaking of the Mayor, he has been on the ABC Radio talking down the need to amalgamate councils and saying, paraphrased, that considerable savings can be made via councils working cooperatively. He identified $3Million plus which when amortized over the number of ratepayers in the adjoining councils it would as likely as not amount a measly few dollars – a few cups of coffee worth perhaps. If this is read as somewhat self-serving it might because it is as likely as not.