Lismore City Council will tomorrow place on public exhibition its Draft Biodiversity Management Strategy (BMS) and begin community consultations around the proposed rate increase to fund it.
Council wants to hear the range of community views on the proposed half-million dollar annual Special Rate Variation, the proceeds from which would be used to eradicate weeds and re-establish native bushland on public and private land both in and out of town.
‘During the Imagine Lismore consultation, the community said it wanted the council to provide environmental leadership and council has responded by developing a BMS. The Imagine Lismore process showed that the environment is a top priority for our community,’ said Lismore City Council’s (LCC) ecologist Theresa Adams.
‘Council is now asking the community if the BMS we have developed is what they wanted, and if they are willing to invest in it. Council cannot raise rates unless the community is supportive of the idea, so the consultation period is our chance to explain the BMS and ask our community if it has the capacity and the desire to fund these environmental initiatives.
‘In essence, the BMS will deliver cleaner roadsides; assist landholders and community groups to manage pests and weeds; assist management of bushland and riversides on rural land; provide more opportunities for community involvement through events, workshops and field days; and provide more recreational opportunities in well-managed urban bushland reserves, such as walking tracks.’
One of the initiatives is aimed rural landholders and would be delivered in partnership with Southern Cross University. The program is based on creating incentives to assist and encourage landholders to manage biodiversity on their properties.
Implementing an Urban Green Corridors Plan would enhance Lismore’s urban environment by linking existing bushland and riparian areas.
The money would also fund education programs tailored to the community, schools and industry groups.
The proposed rate rise would exclude businesses as they incurred a rate increase in 2013.
It would be based on the NSW valuer general’s land values, with the average urban resident paying $25.43 per year; the average rural resident paying $31.68 per year; and the average farmland resident paying $50.63 per year. The average cost for farmland is higher due to the higher average land value.
If the community consultations are positive, LCC will apply to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal for the Special Rate Variation. If approved, it would take effect from July 2016.
All ratepayers affected by the proposed Special Rate Variation will receive a letter
The Draft BMS will be on exhibition from tomorrow (November 26) until 24 February 2015.
Submissions on the Draft BMS and proposed rate increase can be made online via LCC’s website or emailed to [email protected].