Ratepayers to be slugged extra $192

RATEPAYERS will be paying an average of nearly $200 more in rates this financial year.

Byron Council says for an average residential household the general rates will go up an extra $28. Including increases for water, sewer and waste, the average household increase is expected to be $192 .

Fees at Sandhills Early Childhood Centre will rise by an extra $8 a day for children under three years and an extra $7 per day for a child over three years. After school care will increase $7 per session and vacation care an extra $11 per day.

Resident parking coupons will now cost $25. People with pension card will still be able to get a free coupon.

Other increases adopted by the council last week include environment and planning statutory fees and charges as per the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation amendments that came into effect from July 1.

Rates at the council-run caravan parks will also rise by a minimum 6%.

The council’s general manager Graeme Faulkner said the council had been working hard over the past 12 months to reduce expenditure and improve efficiencies.

"Staff numbers have been reduced and services reviewed to achieve cost neutrality wherever possible," he said.

"This has meant we have had to increase fees in some areas of user pay services such as child care, planning applications and certificates, resident parking coupons and caravan parks."

Mr Faulkner said while the 2011/12 end of year financial figures were yet to be finalised, he anticipated a $196,000 surplus.

He said it was estimated the accumulated general fund working surplus would be restored to $509,300 at the end of June 2012.

"This will be a significant step to restoring this surplus to council’s adopted position of $1 million," he said.

Mr Faulkner said the council had also requested the administration find a further $300,000 expenditure reduction in addition to recent cost reductions.

He said the findings and recommendations to achieve the $300,000 target would be reported to the November ordinary meeting for consideration.

An additional $300,000 in savings will see the accumulated working surplus return to $1 million by June 2013.

Mr Faulkner said the aim over the past two terms of council had been to maintain a working surplus of $1 million within the general fund.

He said the working surplus allowed for unexpected works to occur without going into overdraft, borrowing funds or cutting planned services or maintenance.

The council’s finance manager, James Brickley, said the impact from the GFC had seen investments have a "notional" investment loss of around $10.8 million in February 2009. "With careful monitoring, market improvement and investment switching, the notional loss is currently $2.5 million," he said.

Mr Brickley said the notional investment loss was the difference between the original investment value and the amount realised if the investment was to be sold on the current market.


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