Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Increases at mall will cause job losses - cafe owner

Laying off staff is the only way restaurant operator Joewi Hoerijanto says he can save his business if the Auckland Council raises rates by 130 per cent on the two Albany mall properties he rents.

Mr Hoerijanto will today join 145 other business tenants of Westfield Albany shopping centre in a protest against the rates bill for the centre rising from this year's $1.12 million to a proposed $3.2 million.

Westfield passes the centre's rates bill straight on to its tenants to pay.

"It's hard for me to swallow it," he said. "Especially when we are in this climate where we can't just increase our price because if we did our customers would not come.

"We are holding full-time and part-time jobs with the same hours, but from July it will be hard.

"I just got this news in the last couple of days and when I sit down to work out how we are going to cut costs I am worried because somebody is definitely going to lose their jobs."

Mr Hoerijanto runs the Bolero Tapas Bar & Restaurant in the Albany mall and the next-door Caffe Massimo. They employ 25 and 35 staff respectively.

The combined annual rates bill would rise from $9200 to $21,200 from July 1, according to the proposed 10-year plan on which the council is hearing public submissions.

Mr Hoerijanto criticised the council limit of $6000 on rates remission for a property.

"People do not realise that the whole Westfield centre is seen as one property and the individual tenants cannot get a $6000 rebate."

Westfield development executive Jo Duthie said in a submission to the council that the change to assessing rates on capital value unfairly penalised intensively developed shopping centres.

She said the rates were a direct burden on the 1200 individual retailers operating from the nine centres, with the increases varying from 8 per cent to 186 per cent.

- NZ Herald

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