It’s fair to say the drought, and the water restrictions as a consequence, are dominating debate – or influencing everything else.
The dry times have seen Chaffey and Keepit plummet even further, meaning the next round of water restrictions – where outside watering is all but banned – are only weeks away for Tamworth.
Water users have been told the Gwydir Valley is next. After the lowest levels of rainfall in the catchment in 100 years, WaterNSW says if it wasn’t for dams like Copeton and Keepit, the river systems would have been dry 18 months ago.
Landlords and tenant as well as real estate agents are all caught between a rock and a green place on what to do with restrictions and keeping lawns green.
Gardens and green grass are almost a thing of the past – whether or not tenants are trying – and that means bonds are being lost because the upkeep of the property isn’t being met.
It’s an “absolute minefield”, according to the local real estate association.
But the next scalp of the dry times has been Tamworth council’s business events levy.
The council called an extraordinary meeting to cast votes on the controversial tax on business, only for several councillors to proclaim they couldn’t support it as it stands because of the drought.
Madeline Link was at the council meeting and broke the story about the change in levy numbers, and compiled a handy Q&A on who has to pay and why.
The council will apply to IPART for a 6 per cent hike over four years, and only commercial property owners will be subjected to the measure that’s expected to raise the council an extra $400,000 in that time.
The owners of the premises will be levied the rates and will likely be seeking to pass the cost onto their tenants.
For example, plumbers who run their business out of the garden shed will not have to pay the levy – but someone who owns a building on Peel Street and rents it out to a business owner will. It really comes down to who owns the commercial land.
As we all wait and watch the skies and the bleak weather forecasts, we can live with knowing we are one day closer to rain.
And, before I go, if you’re looking for something to do, you can’t go past our talented snapper team who have their work on display at the council’s Ray Walsh House.
While they don’t get a byline on stories, this month the work of Leader photographers Gareth Gardner and Peter Hardin will speak for itself. They’ve just opened an exhibition of their favourite images from recent years and it captures the moments of the region and its people.
It will run until the end of the month.