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March 3, 2021

RVC rate rise objections close today

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Australian-dollar-moneyRichmond Valley ratepayers have until the close of business today (Monday, 24 March) to lodge objections to a planned rate rise of more than 40 per cent over five years.

Some residents say they were not given enough notice for public meetings on the issue which they say were hastily put together.

Richmond Valley Council (RVC) voted unanimously last month to increase rates by 12.3 per cent, well above the NSW rate peg, followed by four annual increases of 5.3 per cent.

The council is one of 32 across the state applying to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) for the increase but Dr Richard Gates, president of the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome committee, says it has not only ‘failed to make a convincing argument for the rise’ but hardly consulted with ratepayers.

Dr Gates says there was ‘virtually no notice’ of the recent  public meeting at which around 16 people attended.

He told ABC radio that most ratepayers didn’t know about the meeting yet council concluded that because not many people had shown up, they supported the rate rise.

In its appliction, RVC described the rises as ‘modest’ and said ‘that the majority of Richmond Valley Council residents requested it be approved in total’.

Dr Gates said only 16 people turned up at RVC’s community consultation meetings at Casino and Evans Head last December to discuss the Special Rates Variation.

He said Council claimed in its application to IPART that ‘the poor turnout may have been a reflection of approval for Council’s plans’ but he suggested the real reason for low attendance was the obscure nature of advertising and timing of the meetings.

He says the rate rise, the third highest of the 32 shires applying to IPART, was unjustified.

‘There is little doubt Richmond Valley Council has lots of roads and bridges to manage over a large area but the small ratepayer base needs to stop being blamed and punished for this problem, particularly when the state occupies so much of the land and pays no rates,’ he said.

The rates submissions, closing today, will be determined by IPART by mid June.

 


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2 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Editor
    I understand that the General Manager of Richmond Valley Council spoke on ABC radio this morning about the proposed rate rise for the local government area and was heard to say that rates were a “tax” on property based on value and were not related to services provided. Interesting take on the local government act.

    Ratepayers who live at the coast pay much higher rates than the ‘average’ rate for our council area. I understand the same applies to other councils. I heard one caller to the ABC this morning talk about this.

    Council has an obligation under Section 8 of the NSW Local Government Act for the “fair imposition of rates”.

    Section 529 of the same Act gives council the mechanism for creating fairness through adjustment of the ad valorem or ‘cents in the dollar’ charge on the unimproved capital value of the properties so that we are all charged roughly the same amount for the services we receive.

    Richmond Valley Council needs to meet its obligations under the Local Government Act and adjust the cents in the dollar appropriately so that ratepayers at the coast are longer subsidising property owners who are probably receiving the same goods and services as those at the coast.

    It is also time for local government to review the notion that those who have higher property values also have greater capacity to pay. Many at the coast are retirees on fixed incomes.

    Can local government impose a “tax” on us?

    Time for some fairness. And time for big developers to be paying full rent so that the ordinary ratepayers are not subsidising their developments. The sale of the whole of the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome for $2.5 million without public tender is a steal and equivalent to 10 residential housing blocks. Perhaps this explains why Richmond Valley Council is chronically short of money. Where is the business plan which shows this will benefit ratepayers? We are well past ‘trickledown’ economics and the alleged benefits we will receive.

    Private property is not an ATM for local government.

    I encourage all ratepayers who are affected by this matter to write to IPART at [email protected] by close of business today or as soon as possible.
    Dr Richard Gates
    President
    The Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee Inc.

  2. I attended the Public Meeting re Rate Rising and was an objecting to same. We were given a chance to explain our objections as the General Manager had his own agenda. We were informed that we were being disruptive when any objection was voiced in relation to a rate rise. Many good points were put forward that any rate rise increase could be put to better use. As a pensioner I who has worked all their life I am finding it very difficult to make the current rate payments.

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