Rate rise flagged for Byron council

Up for discussion and voting by the new crop of Byron Shire councillors at their first official meeting this Thursday will be a proposal by staff to increase rates with a special variation of 12.5 per cent over four years. 

This includes the estimated 2.5 per cent rate peg.

The need for more cash for council, says director of corporate and community services Mark Arnold, is owing to a commitment to the state government’s Fit for the Future program and the need to maintain and improve infrastructure.

Neighbouring Kyogle and Clarence Valley councils were considered ‘unfit’ for the future by the state government in October last year; however, Byron Shire was found to be fit.

Mr Arnold says in his report in this week’s agenda that a ‘key component of the Fit for the Future program was the requirement for each council to prepare and submit a Council Improvement Plan (CIP).’ 

Byron Shire Council’s adopted plan contains six key improvement strategies, he wrote.

They are: ‘Pursuing new, recurrent revenues such as pay parking, asset realisation (sale and development of land), increasing rates beyond the rate peg in future years, efficiency savings through strategic procurement initiatives, continuation of savings generated through operating efficiencies and significant increase in expenditure on infrastructure such as roads.’

One of the underpinnings for the rate rise, Mr Arnold says, is that ‘community satisfaction surveys conducted in 2013 and 2016 showed that residents of the Byron Shire thought road maintenance was within the top three priority issues for the Shire.’

Councillors have been presented with three options: The first is to do nothing and apply the estimated 2.5 per cent rate peg (classed as ‘deteriorate’).

The second is to implement a special rate variation of 7.5 per cent, each year, for four years (classed as ‘maintain’) and the third option is to apply a special rate variation of 12.5 per cent each year for four years (classed as ‘improve’).

The potential result of a proposed rate increase of 12.5 per cent ‘will see a potential approximate $22,254,000 raised over a four-year period.’

Amalgamation fears

Mr Arnold also warned that if the council was considered ‘not’ Fit for the Future, it could be ‘considered as a possible amalgamation target.’

‘If a decision is made to not introduce a special rate variation… council will have some difficult decisions to make concerning a reduction in services, maintenance and facilities.’

Community consultation and awareness regarding the special rate variation is planned, with a handout booklet for ratepayers via the October rates notice which the council distributes. Consultation will also include a random telephone survey ‘of a representative sample of 400 local residents.’

Submissions and online surveys will be sought, while information stands will be available at markets and through print and electronic media and presentations to the business and community roundtable.’

6 responses to “Rate rise flagged for Byron council”

  1. Dave says:

    What they are not saying is that at 12.5% per year rise will see a current residential rate of $2400 per Year go to
    $3850 in 4 yrs.

    • Devi says:

      Exactly, they’re talking about the first year increase only – not the increase that will be applied at the end of the four years. And then what? Does that enormous amount stay or do we go back to the amount we’re paying now? We asked for roads to be fixed, not rates to be raised. An easy options for Council to find money – how about allocating funds that you have better and use the paid parking. It’s way too much!

  2. jens krause says:

    This needs to be challenged. Some in Council seem to use developper tactics and tricks by overreaching with 12.5% for four years compounded (!), so everyone will be happy, if it “only” will be 7.5% per year for four years compounded. That is a 3 to 5 fold increase of the annual capped rate of 2.5%. It will not only hit property owners but renters as much via pass on. Why not suggesting the doubling of the pegged rate to 5%, if it really is needed. The council had a huge windfall through the increasing property valuations plus paid parking is doing its bit to balance the books. So please , Council, do not take the residents for fools.

  3. m gardner says:

    There is a fourth option: differential rates. Such a scheme would enable pensioners and others on limited incomes to stay in their homes. It would also, in part, address the holiday letting issue by ensuring that these properties pay a fairer share.

    ‘Every rateable property in the Noosa region is levied a general rate. As Noosa Council uses a system of differential general rates all properties in the Noosa region are classified into one of 29 general rate categories, each with its own rate in the dollar and minimum general rate. The general rate for a property is calculated by multiplying the rateable value of the land, as determined by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM), by the rate in the dollar for the relevant category. If the calculated amount is below the minimum for that category then the minimum general rate is levied.’

    of special interest is this:
    ‘The general rates levied on a property where you live i.e. your principal place of residence (PPR) are different to the general rates levied on a residential property if you own it but don’t live there. A PPR is a residential dwelling or unit where at least one owner permanently resides.’

    Find out more

  4. Kirsten Bindoff says:

    I have to admit I didn’t read this article, just the headline!
    That was enough. I am impressed withthe Echo’s timing, putting this story in the same edition as Mandy Nolan’s soapbox highlighting the severe shortage of “AFFORDABLE HOUSING” and the prices of rentals in this area. Persoally, I am on a Disability Pension, so my fortnightly income is less than $1,000.00. With real estate agents legally bound not to rent a property for more than 35% of a prospective tenants income that leave me and all my peers on the disability pension pretty much out of the game. Lets do the math, 35% of $500.00 = $175.00. NOW lets check the local rental prices. No we don’t need to because we all know that we’ll be lucky to find a 1 bedroom place under $300.00. I was lucky after months of rejections despite impeccable references, to find a private rental for $270.00. So luckily I’m not homeless, but after the bills, food, medications and petrol to drive my 18 year old car to my volunteer work and doctors. Well its good to eat for one week out of two. I know many wealthy people may think we poor people should move to cheaper areas as a few estate agents have suggested to me. Well, thats just not good enough. I have lived in this area for almost 22 years. My children grew up here, went to school here, and one still lives here. So why should I be expected to move to Lismore or Alstonville when my life is here?
    What we need is affordable housing in this area, that actually IS AFFORDABLE!!

  5. Happy to Amalgamate says:

    So rather than making this shire more affordable, Mark Arnold suggests making it harder for those who don’t have a six figure income. This area is getting chewed up by investors, how about slugging them with the bill like M.gardner above suggests?

    When I look at the disparity between the resources allocation between the North and South of the shire I cannot help but think that amalgamation would be a wonderful thing. I just don’t know why they think that is a threat. Why are they comparing us to Clarence Valley and Kyogle anyway? We have a very dynamic economy, so dynamic that the low earners are getting pushed out and council is doing their best to help.

    Sorry I lie, they have big plans to make Brunswick just as trashy as Byron, against many of residents wishes. It is the classical BSC ploy – Build more stuff – Bring more tourists – ??? – $$$ profit!!! $$$.

    Because that has worked so well in the Bay, as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia… yet they are looking to residents to cough up and pay for the infrastructure that all the tourists use!

    How does this work? They sell off valuable assets like the roundhouse in Ocean Shores (for peanuts) and say that it will go towards fixing the infrastructure. A couple of asphalt patches later, their telling us that we will now be staring down a giant rate rise to do the very same.

    How about council actually does what they are supposed to do, bring in innovative new revenue streams and use their resources wisely. Or why not sell off more assets for bottom dollar, and keep pumping more money into the “bay” and getting bugger all in return because you can’t think of a viable way to capitalise on the tourist industry. YAY!!

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