Losing a livelihood
RICK Williams moved to St George in 1996 to start his dream and in two weeks the 52-year-old will face a loss of his business, his home and his livelihood.
“I have schooling up to Year 6, I have no trade, I’ve been doing this for the last 20 years and this is all I know,” Mr Williams said.
“I’m going to be homeless, unemployed and council couldn’t care less.”
Mr Williams owns Kapunda Fishing Park, a commercial camping caravan park 10km north of St George, which sits on land that council has been forced to auction due to outstanding debt on rates.
Debts that Mr Williams claims council has caused.
In 2013, the Balonne Shire Council started to facilitate and implement free camping areas throughout the shire.
It was from that point that Mr Williams said his business was jeopardised.
“In the last 10 years, my income has gone from $150,000 turnover to $86,000,” Mr Williams said.
“I’m going to go bust, I turned over $86,000 this year and it costs me $70,000 to run it. The council told me they are going to sell me up in the next couple of months — so I can’t hold on.
“I have an outstanding debt of $26,000 that I owe council, they have given me a notice of intention to auction my land and will start the procedures within 90 days.
“Free camping should have never come into the shire, no one can compete against something for free.”
Balonne mayor Richard Marsh said no organisation nor council enjoyed the situation where they had to collect debts that could have disastrous effects on the owner involved.
“We deal with ratepayers all the time, and unfortunately there are times when people fall under risk for any number of reasons,” Cr Marsh said.
“There is a process that we need to go through, and it is pretty well set out in legislation and none of these decisions are taken lightly.
“We are selling a property which is obviously at a disadvantage to the owner but from the point of view from the community we have to take the actions that are available to us.”
LOSING THE FIGHT: Owner of Kapunda Fishing Park Rick Williams is facing losing his business. Photo: James Liveris