North Coast Local Land Services working on bush regeneration.
North Coast Local Land Services working on bush regeneration. Contributed

Bill shock for Clarence Valley resident

A MYLNEFORD landowner's bill shock at his Local Land Service rates notice has prompted an angry letter to the NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair.

Bryce Withey, who owns a hobby farm running three pet horses, was amazed to find his bill was almost double the previous year's total.

"It went from $87 last year to $160 in the latest notice," Mr Withey said.

"It said on the notice the general rate had gone from $70 to $98 and they said the increase was needed to bring our rate into line with other areas."

He said the LLS seemed able to raise rates when it liked and by any amount.

"What's worrying me is nobody is holding them back from increasing their rates," he said.

"Councils have their ability to raised rates pegged, but the LLS doesn't seem to have any limit."

Mr Withey said his bill included notional stocking rates of 55 units, calculated by multiplying each hectare of his property by two.

"Our property has lots of trees and steep gullies, which makes it unsuitable to large-scale grazing," he said.

"We have one horse and two mini ponies and the cleared land under the power lines provides just enough grass for them.

Mr Withey said his rates were not good value for his type of land use.

"Really, I don't see the justification of them at all," he said.

"They either duplicate existing services, like helping out during emergencies, when we have the SES.

"Or they ask us to pay for things we don't need, like the meat industry levy."

A spokeswoman for the LLS said Mr Withey's complaint was not representative of the response to the rates notices sent out on January 18-19.

"We explained the LLS was not able to fund its services and needed to raise its rates," she said.

"We haven't received many complaints.

"There has been the odd one, which you expect... but overall people have been happy to pay extra for the services they get."

She said people unhappy with their rates or any other LLS issue could fill out a complaints form on the LLS website here.


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