Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said talk of a special rate variation to create a fund for farmers to do habitat restoration work on their land was premature.
Cr Dowell said eight councillors attended a workshop last week that considered possible rate variations put forward by the sustainable environment reference group.
Three options were considered. Raising rates by 1 per cent, 1.9 per cent or 2.7 per cent.
The first would raise $300,000, the second $500,000 and the third $700,000.
‘Three councillors were away and there were four councillors supporting and four against,’ Cr Dowell said.
‘It’s really far too early to be talking about it as it’s only a proposal and it would be a long way off.
‘The first step would be to complete the biodiversity management strategy and have that presented with proposals.
‘Council would need to give the strategy support before taking it to the community for consultation.’
Cr Dowell said the whole principle behind the idea of a rate variation was to create a fund to provide incentives to farmers.
‘It’s very much aimed at farmers who want to engage with habitat restoration work on their land,’ she said.
‘There are all sorts of options about who might pay but there appears to be an acceptance in council that any restoration should be borne by the whole community, not just farmers,’ she said.
Cr Dowell said there were some people on council who say it is too early to consider raising rates, and that more work needs to be done on improving efficiencies within the council.
‘Even if there was community support for a rate increase the council still may not proceed with applying to IPART,’ she said.