Big Rate Rises Unaffordable for Residents

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New South Wales north coast councils are backing a report that found some would have to double their rates in the next decade in order to remain financially viable.

The study listed the Ballina, Richmond Valley, Tweed and Clarence Valley councils as being in an unsustainable financial position.

Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils (NOROC) president and Kyogle Mayor Ernie Bennett says residents in regional areas cannot afford big rate rises.

He says in Kyogle alone, big money is needed to repair timber bridges in the shire.

“Fifty million dollars is something we couldn’t collect that from our ratepayers over the next decade and our community can’t afford any more rates, it’s not as though we’re in the average incomes like around Sydney.” he said.

“I mean our average income is less than half some of the metropolitan areas.

“So our communities just can’t afford to double their rate bill.”

Meanwhile, Richmond Valley Mayor Charlie Cox says his council is struggling to make ends meet.

The shire was allowed a rate increase of 7.5 per cent this year to pay for infrastructure costs and services.

But councillor Cox says it is still difficult to find the necessary funds and other councils are in a similar position.

“If you notice, quite a few of them are coastal councils and some of them are similar to Richmond Valley where we have a very big area that we cover, but a relatively small population,” he said.

“That’s one of our biggest problems is the bigger the area of course the more infrastructure you need and if you have a small population then the capacity that people can afford that infrastructure is relatively diminished as well.”

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