Ratepayers dealt double whammy


KYOGLE ratepayers have been hit with a rates rise above the pegged rate for the second year in a row.

Mayor Ernie Bennett said the 6 per cent rise approved on Monday (which is 2.5 per cent over the 3.5 per cent general increase allowed to all councils) was essential.

Last year, the council's rate increase was 6 per cent over the pegged rate.

"Both rises have been dedicated solely to repairing or replacing the shire's 300 ageing bridges," Mr Bennett said.

"Without this extra injection of funds we couldn't even begin to scratch the surface of the work that needs to be done."

Mr Bennett said that with 9 per cent of council's total rates revenue now going directly into bridge work, some real progress in the task could be expected.

However, don't expect to see any work being done on bridges spanning regional roads ? Clarence Way, Bentley Road and the Kyogle-Murwillumbah Road.

Council will wait for the long-promised State Government funding for its timber bridge program to kick in after the next State budget before tackling these 16 bridges.

Under this seven-year program, council hopes to receive a 50 per cent contribution towards the repair of these bridges.

"But even this extra money may not be enough," Mr Bennett said.

"It will take tens of millions to complete the whole job.

"All of these bridges are timber and were built either pre or post-war. They are all at the end of their life and it is a huge task to repair or replace them.

"This is a serious enough issue that we believe the Federal Government should make a one-off grant towards the project."

Councillors attending the extraordinary meeting voted unanimously to adopt the 2005-2006 management plan.

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