Ballina Shire Council will embark on a major consultation with residents around its plan to raise rates by 5.5 per cent for 2015/16 and 2016/17.
The council aims to raise $4 million in loans for the redevelopment of the Alstonville and Ballina swimming pools.
The council’s proposal is for two increases of 2.5 per cent on top of the standard rate-pegging figure, which is expected to be 3 per cent.
The extra money from the rate rise would be used to repay loans.
This means council will be applying for a 5.5 per cent increase for both years, with the increases remaining throughout the 15 years of the life of the loans.
Councillors last week voted unanimously for a community engagement strategy to satisfy a requirement from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), which determines rate variations.
Cr Ben Smith moved, in accordance with a staff recommendation, to proceed with the community engagement strategy.
The strategy will include: fact sheets; information on the council’s website; letters to residents; advertising; a community survey; public meetings in Ballina and Alstonville; and meetings with key stakeholders.
‘Hopefully this [pool redevelopment] will address some of the losses we have with the pools,’ Cr Smith said.
‘This rate variation makes sense,’ he said.
The council also authorised general manager Paul Hickey to begin a tender process to select a consultant to assist with the pools’ redevelopment.
The consultant will be engaged to ‘determine how council will get best value for its monies and to ensure we are planning for where swimming pools are heading in the 21st century’.
The council has budgeted $200,000 to engage a consultancy firm to assist with the redevelopment of the pools.
Councilors heard that the funding had been sourced from the property reserves.