Big rates hike sought

Mayor Cr Jan Barham has described Byron Council’s budget for the next financial year as ‘challenging’.

Cr Barham said the recently announced rate pegging of 2.6 per cent by the NSW Government made it impossible to maintain the level of service expected by residents and ratepayers.

“A 2.6 percent cap does not cover the real costs that council experiences and doesn’t allow for increases in electricity, wages and equipment,” she said.

“Unfortunately, the continual cost shifting from the state government to local councils will mean a special rate application for Byron Shire Council for the upcoming financial year.” .

The council is seeking a 6.98% special rate increase for 2010-11. The rate increase on the general fund will be for the following services and infrastructure programs:

 Byron Bay Library ($1m loan) $100,000

 Byron Sport and Cultural Complex ($1.159m loan) $120,000

 Byron Regional Sport and Cultural Complex maintenance $186,000

 Increased regional library contribution $84,000

 Information technology enhancements $195,000

 Contribution to emergency services (RFS, lifesaving, SES etc) $175,000

 Beach scraping at New Brighton $130,800

 Wategos walking track $50,000

 Matching funding for bikeways construction $55,200

 Total $1,096,000

For an average residential property, an additional 6.98% special rate increase is equivalent to an increase of $66 per year, or less than $1.30 a week, on residential ordinary rates.

The council’s draft management plan and budget is on public exhibition until May 10.

 Cr Barham encouraged residents and ratepayers to read the draft plan, attend a public meeting and make a submission to the council.

She said a summary of the submissions concerning the special rate increase wouldl be presented to the Minister of Local Government prior to permission being granted or not granted.

Two public meetings will be held to enable the community to be informed of the contents of the draft documents.

The first meeting will be pn Tuesday April 27 at 6pm at the council chambers at Mullumbimby and the second meeting will be on Wednesday April 28 at the council’s training room in Bayshore Drive, Byron Bay.

A rates calculator for 20010/11 is also available on the council’s website, at, under the heading of Current Matters. The rates calculator gives ratepayers an indication of their ordinary (general) rates payable for 2010-11.

Submissions close at 4pm on Monday May 10.

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