Residents roar about rates rise

DESPITE growing concern among Clarence Valley residents that rates rises have become too hard to keep up with, the council has shown the total rate costs have only risen by 5%.

Clarence Valley Council director - corporate Ashley Lindsay said certain costs within the rates had risen higher than usual to maintain capital investments by the council.

"In most cases on average, the total rate bill will increase by about 5% year on year," Mr Lindsay said. "This year, the general rates were only increased by a rate pegging of 2.4%"

"A major change in this year's rates billing is the increase to the sewer charge, which is at 8.9%. That is to fund the capital expenditure that the council has had to do. We have spent over $200 million on major upgrades to sewer treatment works.

"We are projecting that those charges for water and sewer rises will only go up by CPI at 2.5%."

With the impending increase to the Special Variance Rates proposed to take effect next year, Mr Lindsay said the council was beginning to bring itself level with the Fit for the Future guidelines.

"The reasons for us considering the SRV, is that we can't continue to provide the services we provide, with the current level of money coming in," he said.

"We need to look at our expenditure and where we can, we need to cut costs. It is a whole combination of things that are coming together with the goal to have the council financially sustainable over the long term."

Valley residents vented their frustrations about the hike in rates on social media with several questioning the need for a rise in sewerage treatment costs.

For some home owners , rates have risen hundreds of dollars and in the opinion of the residents the services have not changed to accommodate the costing.

"$400 increase! I expected them to go up. But why that much?" Halfway Creek resident Victoria Steinweiss said. "Nothing has changed, no extra services! How can that be justified?

"This is Halfway Creek! Dirt roads, lucky to be graded twice a year! Oh... Maybe they are going to tar our road?! I don't think so..."

Residents with on-site self-maintained septic tanks and ponds questioned the inclusion of a sewerage cost that had been imposed on them.

"I'm paying for sewerage maintenance, when I have a septic tank. When I queried it I was told it was for council to send someone out to check it," Tanya Maree Smith said. "13 years and not once have I seen a council worker.

"The woman I spoke to at the council said it was to cover someone coming onto our property to inspect the septic tank."

Another Valley resident, Amy Brett, asked, "I wonder why I have a $40 waste water management fee when we have a septic pond that is not managed by the council."

Norm Allish was wary of the changes ahead of the expected SRV changes

"This is the tip of the iceberg, 8% increase per year for 5 years coming our way," he said.

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