RATING THE RIVER: Ballina's mayor, Cr David Wright, said part of the proposed rate increase will fund works to improve the health of local waterways, including the Richmond River.
RATING THE RIVER: Ballina's mayor, Cr David Wright, said part of the proposed rate increase will fund works to improve the health of local waterways, including the Richmond River. Graham Broadhead

Valley's neighbours clamouring for special rates rise

NEIGHBOURING councils to the Clarence Valley have not been inspired by its example of knocking back a chance to jack up rates above the allowed limit.

The councils of Ballina, Byron Bay and Bellingen have all put up their hands for a rates rise to fund things like renew core infrastructure, clean up waterways and improved financial sustainability.

In all there are eight NSW councils which have applied to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal for SRVs of differing amounts and time frames.

The Clarence Valley Council looked to be headed the same way early last year, despite plenty of complaint from the public.

But the September elections installed a new crop of councillors who were prepared to stand up for ratepayer's wishes and a proposal to make a Fit for the Future to the State Government, which included an SRV, was voted down.

In its place was an eight-point plan from Cr Andrew Baker, which aimed to fund light and heavy fleet replacement with external financing, including leasing, and use $17 million set aside for this and other functions to fund infrastructure renewal with the need for a rate rise.

Consultants the AEC Group presented a report to the council which claimed to have found a $20 million black hole in the plan's sums, but just last week the council voted down an attempt to rescind the fleet finance part of the deal and give the Baker plan some clear air.

Ballina mayor David Wright said the council had consulted extensively and had won support for its measures.

He said people agreed the council needed to spend money renewing infrastructure and cleaning up waterways, including the Richmond River.

He said while the rates would rise, other charges like the waste levy charge would drop.

"We've consulted extensively and the people who've attended the sessions have mostly agreed where the money should be spent,” Cr Wright said.

Eight councils across NSW have officially applied to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to increase their general revenue above the rate peg in 2017/18.

The rate peg for 2017-18 is set at 1.5%. Councils requiring additional revenue are able to apply to IPART for either single year or successive annual percentage increases above the rate peg. These special variations can be permanent or temporary, and are assessed against guidelines published by the Office of Local Government.

IPART Chairman Dr Peter Boxall said all applications will be determined by IPART by mid May and could be applied to rates for the 2017-18 year.



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