A MAJORITY of Byron Council ratepayers will get a reduction in their utilities rates next financial year.
The council have announced that 75% of their ratepayers who were serviced by council's water and sewer services will get a reduction in their rates to the tune of $100 per year beginning in the 2017/18 financial year.
Council General Manager, Ken Gainger, said the opportunity for a rate reduction had come about through operational efficiencies and revised strategic planning targets due to better asset management planning.
"This is good news for Byron ratepayers who are facing the prospect of their general rates being increased substantially to fund much needed infrastructure (roads) renewal across the Shire," he said.
Mr Gainger said the impact of proposed increases to the general rates, which would see average residential rates increase by between $382 and $685 over four years depending on which Special Rate Variation option the Council selects, would now be offset by the $100 per annum reduction in Water and Sewer rates.
Council is also mindful of the current review of local government rating being undertaken by the IPART which has recommended that the valuation method used to determine property values change from the current site value (land value only) to Capital Improved Value (CIV); that is, the combined value of the land and all improvements.
It is expected that the CIV based valuations will be introduced within the next couple of years.
Mr Gainger outlined that such a change would fix current rating inequities whereby the owners of million dollar mansions pay similar rates to the owners of modest houses.
"A CIV based valuation system is likely to see the rate burden distributed more fairly, which would be welcomed by many in our shire," Mr Grainger said.
He also stated that the council has developed a hardship policy which contemplates disadvantaged ratepayers being offered some rate relief.
Council will be considering the Special Rate Variation at its next meeting on Thursday 15 December.
Almost 2,500 ratepayers and residents have taken part in the recent month long community conversation about the proposed increase.
This included over 950 online surveys, 900 reply paid cards, a 400 person random telephone survey and over 400 people spoken to at community information stands.
Mr Gainger thanked those who had been part of the consultation process.
"Whilst increasing rates are never a popular conversation to have, feedback has shown that there is strong support for improved road infrastructure," he said.
"Support for a rate increase varied across the differing feedback platforms, however, it was generally recognised that it needed to happen."
Following the meeting, Byron Shire will need to inform the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal of Council's intent to apply for a special rate variation.
The rate rise will need to be determined in February 2017 and the application made soon afterwards. If successful, it would come into effect from July 2017.
As part of the process, the updated Integrated Planning and Reporting documents will need to be placed on public exhibition.
The updated documents includes an amended four year Delivery Program featuring the proposed special rate variation, updated Long Term Financial Plan and Asset Management Plan.
You can read the consultation report and updated Integrated Planning and Reporting documents within the December 15 council meeting agenda http://www.byron.nsw.gov.au/meetings
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