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Byron Shire
October 25, 2021

Byron mayor defends rate-rise plan

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Byron Shire Council's new booklet spruiking the benefits of a rate rise will be hitting ratepayers' letterboxes over the next week.
Byron Shire Council’s new booklet spruiking the benefits of a rate rise will be hitting ratepayers’ letterboxes over the next week.

Chris Dobney

Byron Shire Greens mayor Simon Richardson has admitted that ‘it may not be a popular conversation to have with our 15,500 ratepayers’ but blames the need for a special rate variation on the state government’s ‘unrealistic rate-pegging’ regime.

The council has flagged that it is a requirement of its Fit for the Future plan that rates increase in each of the next three years; the question is only by how much.

In the next week, ratepayers will receive a catchy-titled booklet, Funding our Future, which will outline the three options. They are: 7.5 per cent, 10 per cent and 12.5 per cent – which council’s sales pitch has respectively dubbed ‘deteriorate’, ‘maintain’ and ‘improve’.

Each of the options includes the estimated rate peg of 2.5 per cent.

Third-world roads

With many of Byron Shire’s roads now at third-world standards, the council says only the highest option of 12.5 per cent would see any dramatic improvement in the state of infrastructure over the period.

For an average residential ratepayer, paying about $1,139 per year, this equates to an increase in the first year of $85 at 7.5 per cent, $114 at 10 per cent and $142 at 12.5 per cent.

The council would also borrow an additional $6 million over the four-year period to help reconstruct its failing bridge network.

Mayor Richardson said the various options had the potential to raise between $16.5 million and $28 million over the four-year period and this funding would go ‘straight into infrastructure.’

‘We know our roads, drainage, footpaths, buildings and public amenities are not satisfactory,’ he said.

‘In fact, it’s no surprise that 92 per cent of residents who participated in a recent community survey told us that sealed urban roads should be our top priority infrastructure asset.

‘Whilst our efforts in the last four years have clearly shown our commitment to solving this problem – with additional funding being raised from internal savings efficiencies, rationalizing under-utilised assets and generating new income through pay parking – it’s still not enough.

‘It may not be a popular conversation to have with our 15,500 ratepayers. However, we need to be firmly focused on our financial sustainability and how we support our ageing infrastructure.

Continued deterioration unacceptable

‘We’ve not had a special rate variation since 2008/09 and continued unrealistic rate capping levels has meant that our costs of operation routinely exceed our major revenue source.

‘Without a rate rise, our infrastructure will continue to deteriorate and we cannot afford to let this happen,’ mayor Richardson said.

According to the council, option 1 at 7.5 per cent ‘still sees some of the council assets continuing to deteriorate and the focus would remain on high, poor condition assets.’

It says that option 2, at 10 per cent, ‘would stop the deterioration of assets and funding would be channelled into essential maintenance and renewal programs.’

At 12.5 per cent, option 3 ‘would see assets gradually improve and council have the ability to fund some new assets,’ the council document claims.

But there’s a further sting in the tail for ratepayers: at the end of the four-year period, the Special Rate Variation increase would be built into the general rate base and permanently retained.

Selling the pitch

Byron Shire staff will be out and about spruiking the benefits at Farmers Markets over the next four weeks and also at Ocean Shores Shopping Centre and outside the Suffolk Park Spar.

Days and times are listed within the booklet or at www.byron.nsw.gov.au/funding-our-future.

Non ratepayers who would like have an information booklet posted can call Byron Shire Council on 6626 7249.

 

 


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8 COMMENTS

  1. Here he strikes again, screwing us poor rate payers with increases while going ahead full steam building more UN-necessary round abouts and wasting our rate money on under used sports fields and huge electronic signs advertising those. Decent road would be much more productive then threatening people with huge finds for putting up a garden shed. Enforcing parking rules in Ocean Shores would bring in lots of revenue and help us elderly people not to have to continuously step onto the roadway to avoid parked cars on the green strip

  2. Byron Council has not exactly been fiscally responsible for several years and collectively they have gotten us in this mess.

    JUST WHAT can we expect when Byron is one of-if not the most litigious Shires in NSW?

    How about the proclivity to toss around rate payers money to fund “Consultants” and “Impact Studies” for black hole projects?

    How much did they piss away on the Tyagarah Airport Studies-which are not yet finished? The high-priced consultants will reach the same conclusion as they did in a 2001 paid study- Tyagarah Airport is NOT economically viable nor competitive.

    Funny how no one from Council mentioned the proposal to build a helipad there with Rates. The only beneficiary of a Helipad there would be the Bluesfest… if they want a pad, they can afford to build it from their own pockets.

    I wouldn’t mind paying more…but it’s just more for them to squander.

  3. It didn’t take long for the new Green council to hit the ratepayers with a rate increase no mention of this prior to the election. The council approved 500 secondary buildings who pay no rates! What a big mistake and these can be rented on airbnb and stayz and they contribute nothing to the the Council.

  4. Blah blah, as above, just watch this bring out the wingers and winers! Probably the same ones who have been winging and wining about shitty roads !
    Great!!! I’m all for the full increase, because I would rather pay more and make a sacrifice for the future benefit of everyone than see our infrastructure deteriorate. Frankly fixing stuff sooner will be a lot cheaper in the long run, and seeing these improvements will be a very positive thing for community spirit too!

  5. Rate increases are necessary with such a small (15,500) rate base and a large and difficult, diverse area to which we all need safe and functional road access apart from other vital infrastructure improvements.
    However, I absolutely abhor the decision that gives us a coloured brochure to outline options.
    Transparency please on the cost of production, promotion and delivery!
    ( Staff costs alone must have been tremendous.)
    We elect the Council and expect decisions to be made, if a larger increase is required, just put it into place- there will be loud complaints but we all must realise that the income base is far below sustainable levels .
    Just do it!
    And if we need ‘option three’ we will manage and benefit.

  6. $40000 to a zero carbon dioxide byron shire committee shows me that rate rises will only be frittered away on useless meaningless agenda 21 programs.

  7. Did we see any benefit from the last special rate increase? Happy to pay more for some good roads and parks but doubtful giving this council more money will achieve this, need to increase paid parking prices as tourist are a big part of the deterioration of our roads.

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