The Byron Labor Secretary Asren Pugh has slammed the decision by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to approve the 33.5 per cent rate rise for the Byron Shire.
Inverell had a total increase of 22.21 per cent, the closest other rate rise to the Byron Shire, while Ballina had a temporary one year increase of 3.4 per cent above rate peg
‘The 33.5 per cent increase for Byron Shire residents is by far the biggest increase across all local government areas in NSW. This is an indictment on the ability of our council to manage its finances.’ said Mr Pugh.
‘We urgently call on Byron Shire councillors to consider the alternatives that Byron Labor have outlined, including:
- Ensuring that this rate rise is applied to the millionaire business landlords who benefit from tourism, and not to residents
- Expanding business rates to all Air BnB and holiday let properties in the Shire, as they take away permanent rental accommodation
- Increasing parking fees at tourism hotspots like Main Beach and Wategos’
Labor councillor Paul Spooner, who voted against the rate rise, has said that there needs to be a suit of measures to address the funding needs of council.
‘The paid parking captures the day tourists and we have to think of ways to raise money from the overnight tourism. What we are missing from the equation is the overnight tourist.
‘We as a community need to be able to tap into the tourist coming into this area.
Spooner believes that the council should be talking with local tourist operators and accommodation suppliers to look at ways they can come up with a way of tapping into the overnight tourist market.
‘There is nothing formal going on. We should be approaching the state government with a proposal for a tourist levy.
‘I believe we need to engage with the tourism industry and if the Byron shire come up with a proposal with council and local providers, if we can get an agreement locally, I think that is something we can take to the state government.
‘Tourists want decent facilities in the area. Lets create these opportunities for discussion.’
‘Byron is at the coal face, I think Byron needs to lead the way.’