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Byron Shire
January 29, 2022

Open letter to Byron councillors on rate rises

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Neil Morrison, Byron Bay.

Dear Councillors,

In the matter of BSC’s proposals for various rate increases over the period I believe firstly your notices inclosed with our rate notices do verge on the fraudulent in that this information failed to disclose the nil rate increase option, accordingly any resident response to this request is flawed.

Similarly the general manager’s justifications including quoting some mythical average rate impost and the effect on these rates over the four-year period were sufficient to believe he is an outcast from ‘Noddy Land’ or alternatively he has his head in the sand (on one of our promoted tourist beaches) so far that his toes may not show.

We have lived in Byron for some 25 years, in which time our rates have increased some 1,600 per cent with no discernible increase in services nor infrastructure nor ambiance to our benefit.

This place has been promoted by state, regional, commercial and local tourist bodies to such an extent that it is known world wide and attracts in excess of two million visitors annually, has one of the highest Airbnb densities on the planet, and otherwise holiday lets at obscene levels.

It is the above commercialisation that is responsible for the deterioration of all the levels of infrastructure and ambiance in this place, it is this commercialisation that should be rated by way of differential rate levy (as on the Gold Coast) bed taxes (not good enough to cry ‘They wont let us’) and or other, rather than your limp wristed and some what vengeful attempt to levy permanent residents so as to subsidise the very activity that is so detrimental to our daily anxiety levels.

It is this commercialisation that provides rivers of gold to all the above special interests. I’m thinking stamp duty, GST, land tax, then mortgage, maintenance, improvements and rate tax deductions apart from business rates profits, paid parking and others.

In short, your proposal smacks of laziness, would do little or nothing to allow me access to and from my town, not move one damm dopey visiting pedestrian across an intersection, not shut one holiday let down in a residential zone, nor instruct our northern visitors on how to drive on a roundabout with the added insult to require we permanent residents to pay for your infrastructure to further flood our place with ever more commercialisation.

Wake up.

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  1. This rate proposal is excessive. Even the “moderate” rate proposal of 7.5% for 4 consecutive years at 33% cumulative will raise an additional 57 million dollars for Council over the next 10 years or an extra 6.7 million dollars per year, once fully implemented. Council claims, it has a 6 million dollars per year funding gap. That is without trying to find a single dollar of extra money from other sources and with the highly rubbery assumption of reducing the infrastructure backlog to zero within the next ten years. It is impossible to believe, that Councils infrastructure would “deteriorate” under this scenario. Will Council reduce the rates again, once the backlog is paid off?

  2. Here here over 130 Festivals of differing sizes, a sliding rate on them per day per festival. Mega festivals $25.00 smaller ones council can make that decision, we could pave our roads with gold. Lets get this right. Council is a business Festivals are a business. Council and Councilors should be lobbying state government to allow this rate to happen. All our infrastructure is loved to death, the north of the shire experienced havoc over the Christmas period some businesses made lots of money, good on them, some did not. Locals locked out of there local community villages as there was to many people. Also the Tourism Board should pay as well if they continue to sell us for all the reasons we love it, they can pay for the privilege.It appears that the population has dropped from approx. 36,000 a couple of years ago to on reading something from council its now 29,000 so why. Have we lost it …… is…..Byron….. disappearing….. under the wave of people. So remember….. USER PAYS ……
    Oh And the mayor telling us that we are also to blame for rubbish etc. EXCUSE ME, HOW DARE HE……..

    • People are taxed when they attend a festival – they pay GST on the tickets and on food , beverages, souvenirs and any other services at the festival. We have one rate of GST in Australia, collected by the Commonwealth. There is no precedent or justification to start introducing new forms of goods and services taxes and complicating what are reasonably simple arrangements. Council funding comes from rates and State grants. There is no justification for the Byron Shire to be pioneering new forms of taxes and revenues that will complicate our existing tax system, If you do not want to have cuts to public services, and asset sales, push for a higher rate of GST on all products, not just luxuries like festivals, and broaden its base,and accept too that if you have a valuable piece of land – and land does not come much more valuable than in the Byron Shire – it is reasonable that you pay you will pay higher rates.


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