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Byron Shire
May 19, 2022

Byron ratepayers hit with hefty rise

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By Hans Lovejoy

Byron Shire Council yesterday voted for a 7.5 per cent rates hike over four years, yet the actual increase across residential, commercial and farmland is yet to be thrashed out.

This is a 33.5 per cent  hike over the four years for the cumulatively compounded Special Rate Variation (SRV).

But the decision needs approval from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), which had already pegged a 1.5 per cent rise across the state (2017-18).

A council spokesperson told Echonetdaily that IPART requires council to work on the assumption of a 2.5 per cent rise, despite the 1.5 per cent now being confirmed as the actual figure for the 2017-18 year.

Staff also confirmed that the 1.5 per cent IPART rate peg will be included within the 7.5 per cent.

Left leaning independent Cr Basil Cameron put the motion forward, which also seeks to pursue other avenues for revenue from tourism and government grants as well as letters to state MPs asking for assistance with the shire’s large visitor numbers.

A new committee is also planned, called the Byron Shire Revenue Exploration Working Party (BSREWP).

It’s worth noting that the 7.5 per cent figure is not set across the board – i.e. in coming weeks and months.

Echonetdaily understands that staff and councillors will thrash out a proposal which could see business pay comparatively more than residents and farmers.

Morning access

During morning access, residents spoke against the rise and implored councillors to look at other measures to find the funds necessary to address the infrastructure backlog.

A campaign led by general manager Ken Gainger claimed the shire’s infrastructure – mainly roads – are in steep decline.

Three options were put before the community: the first was to do nothing and apply the estimated 1.5 per cent rate peg (classed as ‘deteriorate’).

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

To reinforce the point, a special video/slide show was screened in the chambers during morning access on Thursday depicting bridges, culverts, bus sheds and buildings all in a state of disrepair.

Who voted for and against

Councillors in favour of Cr Cameron’s motion to proceed with a 7.5 per cent rate rise were mayor Simon Richardson, Crs Jeannette Martin, Michael Lyon and Sarah Ndiaye (all Greens). Others in support were left-leaning independents Basil Cameron, Cate Coorey and Nationals Party-aligned Alan Hunter.

Country Labor’s Paul Spooner and Jan Hackett voted against.

An alternative motion by Country Labor was to defer the vote, but was rejected by fellow councillors.

A press release by Country Labor later in the day claimed the result would mean Byron Shire will have the highest residential rates on the north coast.

Cr Spooner said in the press release, ‘The community response to council’s consultation has been strongly against a rate rise. People have asked me extensively why Byron Council hasn’t done more to look at raising more revenue from tourists rather than residents.’

Acting secretary of Byron Labor, Asren Pugh, said, ‘This decision will hit residents with an average additional yearly bill of nearly $400, and many will be slugged a lot more.’

Note: The intro for the initial story suggested the rate rise would slug ‘ratepayers with an annual increase of around $400 a year.’

Council staff dispute that amount; and was a figure that Byron Labor suggested.

Council’s spokesperson said, ‘The increase over a four year period on an average rate of $1,139  is a total $382.  That is, it would go from the current $1,139 to $1,521 in 2020/21.  It is a total increase over the four year period, not $400 per yearas per your lead line.’

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  1. It’s time to drain the swamp that is Byron Shire Council!

    Over many years and through many councillors, mayors, and managers (regardless of political colour: red, blue, green, yellow, piebald, skewbald …), the council has proven incompetent in managing the shire and its needs.

    It has wasted millions on futile legal cases, yet has little worthwhile to show for the expense. All it seems capable of is minor window-dressing and feelgood, arty-farty projects that don’t measurably improve public amenity or residents’ quality of life.

    The council frequently cries poor, and blames state government for the dire straits it finds itself in, yet the major causes of its ineffectiveness appear to be (a) self-interest among elected councillors and career staffers, (b) poor prioritising, and (c) plainly gross incompetence.

    Regarding the appalling state of our roads, I read here that the next piece of serious road repair is the section leading to, and immediately outside, our “left-leaning” deputy mayor’s residence at Goonengerry. Call it co-incidence if you will, but it’s far from a good look.

  2. Will the incompetent Council convey the true results of the Sham Community survey to IPART when they forward this request to them? Funny how history has a habit of repeating itself when the Greens take control.
    Jim Mangleson

  3. Typical Greens perspective, Stop devopment or opening of land up for new residences at All costs.
    No development, no development contributions, no Council fees.
    Just slug the locals more. Rates increases, highest tip fees in the region.
    Higher Bussiness rates , higher rents, higher rents , higher costs to the local consumer. US
    To those that didn’t vote at the last Council elections and those that voted this council in, You’ve got what you asked for,! A beautiful town that is too expensive for the working class to live!

  4. We have no train, and the infrastructure that needs to be paid for is roads. Isn’t that amazing?
    Roads need to repaired, shoulders restored, potholes filled every year, an extra layer of tar, and every time it rains more gravel needs to be shovelled as the gravelly voices of the people say don’t raise our rates.
    We have a solid steel railway line and it is solid as a rock and it has been there for decades and it just sits there, no traffic, just glinting its surface rust in the sun. It sits there, straight as a die, true and as hard as solid steel. laying there unused.
    You could write a book, you could, a best-seller. “As the sunny tourists rise in the east, the road to the Byron Lighthouse needs to be tarred for the tourists at any rate.”

  5. Poor poor Byron…after being slugged with a Wall in the last Council and rising rates…the current Neo Libs on Council are at it again.

    Byron your rates are higher than Sydney. How will this impact on housing in the area? The single mothers living in tents and raising their children because the current rents are too high! The high unemployment in the area and the lack of infrastructure to help youths in the area? The culling of funding to TAFE? A Hospital that looks great but cannot obviously afford to pay for staff? The growing mental illness in the Shire?

    A Planet that is dying because of this value system

    Where is the Social Policy? Where is equity? Where is community and compassion for people genuinely struggling?

    It seems to be that “Progress virus”. There were some wonderful submissions to Council that would ease the burden on Rate-payers. In particular Jens Krause submitted a very creative approach.

    Have we lost our SOULS TO ROADS AND CARS?

    “Them’s that got shall win, them that’s not shall loose..so the Bible says and it still is news….(so sang Billy Holiday.)

    Good on you Jan and Paul for putting up the good fight. You did well. Words and breath fail me.

  6. Its disgusting. Why doesn’t places like Nomads, tourist outlets, pubs and booze outlets and big fancy trendy expensive restaurants and resorts pay?? As well as the guy who is building the unwanted mall pay?? Why does the person who bought a home there 20 or more years ago to get away from it all, have to pay for corporate tourism??

    Selling Byron out! No heart left. Locals cant even afford to rent there anymore.

  7. One part of the story is not correct. The options put to the community were 7.5% deteriorate, 10% maintain and 12.5% improve. The options quoted in the article, were put to the Councillors, and voted on in the early stages of the process a few months ago. Council agreed to put them to the community, but staff decided to change them to the ones above, without explanation to the community.

  8. average rates of $1129??? I don’t believe it. rural with just the basic services no water, no sewerage, 1 bin/wk and $1388. compare and average that with Wategos and in town Byron ……


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