Bed taxes and begging-bowls were two of the issues on the agenda at a local government review meeting in Ballina
The Ballina Mayor says councils need to move away from a begging-bowl mentality.
Phillip Silver was among a number of the region’s local government leaders to address an independent review panel in Ballina today.
The NOROC president says councils should explore new ways to generate income on behalf of residents.
He says they’re often at a competitive advantage, because they can avoid some government charges.
“We’re constantly saying ‘please sir, more’, and I think from time to time we have opportunities ourselves if we can be professional about them,” Cr Silver said.
“Most councils I know have sufficient land holdings, they certainly have opportunities in terms of land tax, company tax and stamp duty.
“That ought to be a pretty good little formula for making some money for the community.”
Bed tax for Byron
The Byron Shire is canvassing a different idea, revisiting the possibility of a bed tax.
The council’s submission to the panel included provisions for accommodation and events levies.
Deputy Mayor Basil Cameron says money generated would help to maintain infrastructure in a shire that attracts 1.4 million visitors a year.
“It’s in the tourist industry’s interest that infrastructure is well maintained and looked after,” he said.
“Without it their lifeblood, the visitors, will stop coming.
“So if you want the benefits, you’ve actually got to help the community pay for the impacts as well.”
All ideas considered
The chairman of the Independent Local Government Review Panel says all suggestions will be considered.
Graham Sansom says changes are inevitable, because a one-size-fits-all model doesn’t suit a state with more than 150 local councils.
He says that means councils like Byron, which deal with unusual problems, may get permission to explore solutions such as a bed tax.
“That’s an option,” Mr Sansom said.
“We haven’t sat down and thought that particular issue through yet.
“But in general terms, look yes, the opportunity we’ve been given to come up with different models for different places is a tremendous step forward.”