Town of Gawler’s decision to increase the Gawler and Barossa Jockey Club’s (GBJC) rates by 126% per cent in one year has been described by State Member for Light Tony Piccolo as “harsh, unreasonable and oppressive”.

Council ceased an 11-year discretionary rate rebate in place for the club, which has seen their rates soar from $32,936 to $74,610 this financial year.

Mr Piccolo’s comments were made during Mr Piccolo’s deputation on behalf of the Jockey Club at last night’s Council Meeting (Tuesday, 23 April 2024).

Piccolo said while he understands Council must make tough decisions to repair the budget in the current economic climate, these decisions still need to be fair and equitable.

“It represents a rate increase of $41,674 – a 126% rate increase in one year,” Mr Piccolo said.

“You would be hard pressed to find any person who would say the 126% increase is fair and reasonable.

“What would be fair and equitable would be to implement the decision over a reasonable number of budget years.

“The Gawler and Barossa Jockey Club is a locally incorporated not-for-profit organisation, not Racing SA or the TAB, and is comprised of locals who try to make a living in the industry, support local businesses and, in many cases, volunteer their time.”

The matter has now been deferred until the next Council Meeting in May, with Town of Gawler and its acing Chief Executive Officer Andrew Goodsell to discuss the discretionary rate rebate with the Jockey Club before a new recommendation is brought to Council.

GBJC Chief Executive Officer Nicole Arnold is keen to understand the Council’s decision and explain the detrimental impact it’ll have on their not-for-profit club.

“The discontinuation of the discretionary rebate was not adequately communicated to us, and we would appreciate the chance to engage in a face-to-face discussion with Council staff,” said Ms Arnold.

“This decision directly affects our staff and the events we organise within our community, and we believe a direct conversation would help clarify the situation and explore potential solutions” Ms Arnold said.

“We eagerly anticipate collaborating with the Council to find a mutually beneficial resolution to this matter.

“We’ve reached out to five other racecourses, and it’s evident that their rates are significantly lower than what we’re being charged. Four of them were even below the rates we were previously paying.”