GYMPIE'S food businesses will be operating under a new fee structure intended to bring fairness, with a 52% rise in licence costs being offset by a reduction in the cost of waste collection.
Under a new tiered system introduced by Gympie Regional Council, food licence renewal fees for the majority of the region's 339 businesses (including cafes, child care centres, caterers and smaller supermarkets) have jumped from $226 last year to $350 this year.
The cost has gone up even more for larger outlets, including aged care homes, private hospitals and large supermarkets, which will now be charged $438 to renew their licence.
The new scheme is a win for smaller outlets like accommodation houses and B&Bs, which will be paying $51 less.
While many businesses will be paying more, the charges are also being offset by a 30% reduction in the cost of commercial kerbside collection, down from $550 annually to $380.
Councillors were told during a workshop that the new fee system reflected the actual cost of inspection by health authorities, which has been identified at $175 an hour.
Mayor Mick Curran said during the meeting the new system should reduce the amount of subsidisation ratepayers are providing to local businesses.
He said the significant drop in commercial waste costs in the budget would help offset the charges for businesses.
This year's increase is expected to be the only large jump, with future year's fees to rise with CPI.
While the new structure is similar to ones adopted by other councils, councillors were told the charges were on "the low side” in comparison.