Alice Springs news
Alice Springs news; NewspaperNT
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Community newspspers; Australia, Central; Alice Springs (N.T.); Newspapers
v. 8 issue 22
Copyright. Made available by the publisher under licence.
off its plans for expanding interstate.The award puts the Alice company, which according to managing director Peter Kittle has 65 to 70 per cent of the region's total vehicle business, amongst the elite of the nation's 238 Toyota dealers. Toyota's NT sales manager Bob Pettigrew says the award has been won by just 62 dealers since its inception in 1989. Only 41 have won it more than once, and just eight as often as Kittles. Peter Kittle Motor Company, representing a string of marques including Holden and Nissan, has 120 staff, sold 171 Toyotas last month alone and turned over $80m in 2000-01, more than three times the volume of its first year of operations, 1988- 89. But Alice born and bred Mr Kittle, son of Len Kittle who retired after 50 years in the local vehicle trade, says times are tough. The average annual 10 per cent drop of demand in The Centre over the past three years "is against the national trend". "The market's been bigger in Australia over all in the last three years. "The market decrease is higher in Central Australia than it is in the rest of the NT." He describes the local economy as "steady", with tourism, Aboriginal spending, Pine Gap and the cattle industry as the main drivers of the local economy in that order. Says Mr Kittle: "We're definitely not getting our share of the NT Government spending, that's for sure. "That's obviously affecting the economy." At the same time "the announcement of the railway line has definitely buoyed" the economies of Katherine and Tennant Creek. "There's a lot more positive feeling out there in the business world" in towns other than Alice. He says finding good staff is "probably the hardest part of running a business in any regional centre. "We're pretty fortunate, particularly on our sales side. "All our sales people have been with us for a long time. "Three or four of our key managers who are here now were with me when we first started the company in July 1988.'" In that year the company turned over $12m with 24 staff: the current figures show a better than 30 per cent increase in productivity. "We're try to get most of our staff locally," says Mr Kittle. "We don't like putting sales people on who've done it before. "We like to recruit them from the staff and teach them the way we want it done. "When we change a management position we always advertise it within the company first. "If we can fill it with our own people we will." Technicians are hard to find locally and are usually from interstate. Mr Kittle says the 49 per cent share holding in the company by Aboriginal interests has little impact on its operations: "They''re purely investors," he says. "They look for a return the same as any investor does." The company made donations of well over $100,000 in cash to some 50 organisations in Alice and Tennant last year, plus four or five vehicles to Centralian College for training in the last year and a half, a total value of some $250,000. EXPANSION Mr Kittle says he's pursuing plans to expand interstate and is negotiating "right at this minute".He won't say in which state and the activity will "not necessarily be in the motor industry but more than likely".But he says "we're fortunate to be in the Northern Territory". "A lot of things are harder to do here, we don't have some of the luxuries f the big cities."Whilst our economy isn't as good as it has been in some areas, in the last 10 years it's been pretty steady. "We don't have the highs and lows which some of the other states feel. "In one way it's a disadvantage that we don't have a huge manufacturing base in the Territory but we also don't have the big lows when a major company fails as has happened in SA or Victoria." COUNCIL GETS HUGE FEDERAL GRANTS FOR RIVER, ROADS. A five per cent increase in rates was announced by Ald David Koch in the town council's budget which includes $1.2m in Commonwealth grats for town camp roads and landscaping of river banks. Total expenditure for the year amounts to $16,806,265, with $7,846,547 earnt from grants and charges, leaving $8,959,718 to be raised from rates. In return the community will get a council program focussed on "maintenance of assets and infrastructure".Council's priority will be on beautifying the town by overcoming litter; improving streetscapes through the verge program; and, ensuring that the town has a vibrant CBD. There'll be more litter collection patrols across the town and in the CBD, spread across more hours of the week under a new schedule. Ald Koch said the new streetsweeper in Todd Mall has already achieved better results, while litter collected on residential streets since the introduction of the patrols on quads has doubled. This year council will spend $70,000 on an additional employee and an additional quad to deal with litter across the town. And, "to ensure people can find a bin when they need one", $10,500 has been allocated for new bins. Promoting the litter message and container deposit legislation will cost $40,000.Expenditure on verge maintenance will be increased by $35,000, to a total of nearly $200,000.Council is moving to poisoning couch and buffel grass on verges, rather than slashing it, and is reviewing the methods and machinery used. A verge upgrade program will be phased in over the next five years, with an additional $100,000 allocated for new work this year. Commitments for the CBD include a $30,000 contribution to the development of a CBD masterplan and a further $100,000 for works required as a result of the masterplan. Ald Koch said council hopes that the NT Government "will at least match this contribution". Todd Mall, now almost 15 years old, will get new pavers, or repairs to old ones, at a cost of $40,000; and $10,000 will be spent on sealing the pavers to make them more stain resistant.Lighting at the northern end of the