Ballina ratepayers face an almost 17 per cent increase of their rates over the next three years, most of it to fund road maintenance, as well as improving the shire’s degraded waterways.
At its meeting last month, Ballina Shire councillors voted 7-3 to place on public exhibition their preferred option to increase rates over the 2017-18 to 2019-20 financial years.
Council will seek a 3.4 per cent rate increase, on top of the state-approved cap of 1.5 per cent, for the three years to pay for infrastructure (roads, building, playing fields etc) and improving the Richmond River estuary waterways.
The total increase is 4.9 per cent in 2017-18, then 5.9 per cent the following two years, a total of 16.7 per cent for the three years.
Of the extra income derived from the increase ($695,000 in the first year, $1.44 million in the second and $2.2 million in the third), 51 per cent will be used for roads and stormwater, 21 per cent on open space and sports fields, 15 per cent on the Healthy Waterways program and 12 per cent on community buildings.
The Independent Pricing And Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) cap of 1.5 per cent is expected to increase to 2.5 per cent in the second and third years.
Ballina mayor David Wright said the overall health of the Richmond River had continued to rate as an important issue in community and fishing industry surveys.
Cr Wright told Echonetdaily that the river and waterways health issue had been prominent ‘for quite a while now’ and needed addressing by funding action to rehabilitate them.
Ratepayers will soon be able to have their say on the proposed increase during a public submission period early this year.
Crs Phillip Meehan, Jeff Johnson and Ben smith voted against the option.