Average rate rise of $95.60 for Lismore City ratepayers
By ALEX EASTON firstname.lastname@example.org LISMORE ratepayers will get a slightly smaller than expected rate hike in their 2007-08 rates notices, after the State Government limited rate increases to 3.4 per cent. The council had been expecting a rate hike of 3.5 per cent which, when combined with increases in other charges, would have translated to a $96.55 increase for an average family in an urban area such as Goonellabah. Lismore City Council finance manager Reno Santin said the lower rate increase had chewed about $20,000 from the council's expected budget. But ratepayers would be hard-pressed to spot the difference. Mr Santin said the lower rate hike would mean a jump of $95.60 for the type of family mentioned above, or an overall increase of 4.9 per cent. Despite the slightly lower rate base, the council's budget shifted from a $165,000 deficit to a modest surplus at the council's extraordinary meeting on Thursday. Cr Ros Irwin introduced a motion that accepted trimming, suggested by council staff, which balanced the budget. She then sliced out another $50,000 by cutting into the footpath maintenance budget (which still receives a substantial increase). That money funded a $7000 grant to the Blue Knob Hall, which was hoped to attract big grants to fund the hall's refurbishment and extension. It also funded a $20,000 boost to road safety initiatives around the council area, leaving the budget with a $23,000 surplus. The changes included in Cr Irwin's motion were sourced from a list of potential changes raised by various councillors during a workshop immediately before the meeting.