The rates debate

THE proposed 8.15 per cent hike in Clarence Valley rates is only in the initial stages of debate, according to Mayor Richie Williamson.

In a bid to raise additional funds to finance capital works and programs around the Valley, Clarence Valley Council is considering increasing rates by an extra 5.5 per cent on top of the 2.6 per cent that Minister for Local Government Barbara Perry has already approved.

Cr Williamson said councillors would on Tuesday discuss the revenue policies of the council.

“The general manager’s report flags the possibility of a special rate variation of 5.5 per cent, but the council as yet has not resolved anything and will have that debate and discussion on Tuesday,” he said.

“These are only early discussions and by no means the end of the debate, it is just the start.”

In council’s annual financial report for 2008/2009, a total income of $34, 328,000 was recorded in rates and annual charges for the Valley over the 12-month period.

Cr Pat Comben says in a letter to the editor today (Page 12) that the cost over time to the ratepayers of Clarence Valley if no changes are made will be of financial and infrastructure disaster.

He said that at last Tuesday’s full council meeting, councillors were asked to approve a new loan for capital works which included minor repairs and maintenance work.

“If we continue to borrow for this sort of maintenance and repair, the Valley will one day be crippled with capital debt,” he said.

Cr Williamson said the first stage of the process was to discuss whether to increase property rates, at an extraordinary meeting, at Maclean council chambers on Tuesday. Depending on the outcome of the meeting, further public consultation would be undertaken before councillors decided whether or not to adopt the increase and apply for approval from the State Government.

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