MARIE and Ron Wynd may sometimes wish their 67-hectare rural property at Clunes was located a little more to the east.
This is because the farm straddles both the Byron Shire and Lismore City council areas. For each hectare located in Lismore they pay more than double the amount they pay for each hectare located in Byron Shire.
For each of their 8.5 hectares in Lismore Council they pay $90.31.
But for each hectare in Byron Shire, they pay just $35.88.
The Wynds, who have lived there for 55 years, said they just paid the bills and didn't give it much thought. “What's the sense in kicking up a fuss?” Mr Wynd said.
But they are pleased Lismore City Council provides services in return for the rates.
“We get something from them. We get a road entrance, things like that,” Mrs Wynd said.
“Byron doesn't do anything for us.”
The Wynds are among the thousands of Lismore residents paying the highest council rates in the region.
According to a new report comparing local government areas across NSW, average Lismore residential rates are $865.08, which is $130 dearer than the State average for 2007-08 of $732.
Byron Shire rate were also above the NSW average, but only by $50, while Ballina's rates were more than $130 below the average. Richmond Valley's were more than $200 below the mean, and Kyogle's were more than $150 below.
Lismore's farmland rate was also higher than any other on the Northern Rivers.
Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said the council's rates included a base rate and an additional sum based on land value.
“A couple of years ago, Lismore did a big overhaul of its rates and we had community consultation,” she said. “We did a full consultation that was highly successful.
“Some people's rates went down and some went up, but the total value of the rates council gathers did not increase as a percentage of our total income.”
Cr Dowell said rates were spent on community services, as well as its massive road network.
“We have an incredible number of kilometres of rural roads,” she said.
Byron was spending the largest proportion on servicing debt out of all Northern Rivers councils, and spent just $31.44 per person in 2007-08 on environmental management and health, compared with Lismore's $47.19. Lismore spent $30 less per person on community services than Byron, while Kyogle spent the least.
The comparative report also showed Lismore's population had grown by just 0.1 per cent over the past five years on average, while Byron's had grown by 0.62pc, Ballina's by 1.04pc, Richmond Valley's by 1.02pc, and Kyogle's shrunk by 1.76pc.
Average council residential rates 2007-08:
• Lismore $865.08 (increase of 3.6 per cent)
- Byron $783.85 (increase of 5.7pc)
- Ballina $598.07 (increase of 4.6pc)
- Richmond Valley $514.81 (increase of 10.7pc)
- Kyogle $575.64 (increase of 4.7pc)
- State average $732
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