Byron mayor welcomes 33.5% rate rise
Wednesday 2.08pm: Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson welcomed the IPART decision to approve a special rate rise in Byron Bay.
He said the additional funding was a much needed boost for key infrastructure renewal.
The cumulative increase is 33.55% over four years, raising $11.72 million, and will be allocated to reducing the council's infrastructure backlog and improving financial sustainability.
The special rate variation includes the rate peg.
The additional funding will be spent on roads, stormwater drainage, rural drainage and culverts, buildings, public amenities and parks.
The council will also borrow an additional $6 million over the next four years to fund a bridge renewal program.
The special rate variation increase will come into effect from 1 July 2017.
"Whilst it won't be an overnight fix, the additional funding will help slow down the deterioration of essential infrastructure assets," Cr Richardson said.
"Progress reporting on asset renewal is also a key requirement of the funding approval."
Mayor Richardson also highlighted that the conversation on how the Shire manages tourism in the upcoming decade, will be critical.
"The two million plus visitors arriving each year are having an impact on our assets and they have very limited financial input back to Council other than through pay parking.
"During the consultation on the SRV, our residents were adamant that visitors, businesses and other levels of government needed to contribute more to the upkeep of our infrastructure.
"Plus, we are now facing the added pressure of the airport upgrades in the north and south and this will bring even more visitors into our region.
"How we find the balance between supporting the economic growth that tourism brings and maintaining our assets will be crucial to Byron Shire's values, lifestyle and amenity.
"The development of a new tourism management plan will be central to our community conversations over the upcoming year," he said.
Mayor Richardson also noted that Council would continue to lobby for more state government support and a fairer distribution of the financial assistance grants.
In 2017-18 Byron Shire Council is proposing that there is no increase to water, sewerage, waste and stormwater charges.
For a residential household on an average rate, the annual total rates bill of general, water, sewerage, waste and stormwater charges, including the 7.5 per cent special rate variation, is proposed to increase by a total of $38.00 in 2017-18.
Ratepayers with properties in the Business and Farmland rating categories can expect their rates to increase beyond the proposed 7.5 per cent special rate variation.
This is due to a proposed redistribution of the rating yield burden, which will see an additional increase in the rates paid for properties categorised as business and farmland (beyond the approved rate peg and Special Rate Variation limits) and reduction in the rates for residential properties. This shift is a result of feedback from the community during the special rate variation consultation process.
If adopted by the council in June, the 'average' general rates for Byron Shire Council are proposed to increase in 2017/18 by:
• Residential - average rate $1,179 an increase of $38 or 3.35%
• Business Other - average rate $2,418 an increase of $361 or 17.55%
• Business Byron Bay CBD - average rate $5,173 an increase of $720 or 16.17%
• Farmland - average rate $1,963 an increase $372 or 23.38%
You can read Byron Shire Council's yearly Operational Plan, four year Delivery Program, budget, fees and charges at www.byron.nsw.gov.au. Submissions can be made until May 25.
TUESDAY 2.29pm: BYRON Labor have condemned the Byron Shire Council's approved request to raise rates by 33.5% - the largest rise in NSW.
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) today approved the request by Byron Shire councillors to raise rates.
Byron Labor Secretary Asren Pugh said: "This is a betrayal of our community, who overwhelmingly rejected any additional rate rise during councils so-called consultation.
"It was only the Labor councillors, Paul Spooner and Jan Hackett, that voted against this drastic cost of living increase on local residents.
"This increase is permanent and will mean that Byron Shire has the highest rates on the North Coast, putting further pressure on cost of living and housing affordability for the shires poorest residents.
"The 33.5% increase for Byron Shire residents is by far the biggest increase across all local government areas in NSW. This is an indictment on the ability of our council to manage its finances." Mr Pugh said.
"We urgently call on Byron Shire councillors to consider the alternatives that Byron Labor have outlined, including:
• Ensuring that this rate rise is applied to the millionaire business landlords who benefit from tourism, and not to residents
• Expanding business rates to all Air BnB and Holiday Let properties in the Shire, as they take away permanent rental accommodation
• Increasing parking fees at tourism hotspots like Main Beach and Wategos
Asren Pugh said: "Byron Labor wants a vibrant, diverse community that includes housing that people can afford to live in.
"We don't want long time residents forced out because they can't afford to pay councils exorbitant rates. It is a shame that this council doesn't agree."
IPART approved increases to rates for the following councils. All other councils will stay the same, including neighbouring Tweed and Lismore councils.
• Ballina - temporary 1 year increase of 3.4% above rate peg
• Shoalhaven - temporary 1 year increase of 11.7% above rate peg
• Bellingen - total increase of 6% including rate peg
• Port Macquarie Hastings - total increase of 5.39% including rate peg • Inverell - total increase of 22.21% including rate peg
TUESDAY 13.36pm: BYRON and Ballina Shires are among eight of the 128 councils across NSW to have made a special variation application to increase rates for their 2017-18 budgets.
Both increases are designed to enable councils to fund projects in their local areas, but how will these rates affect you?
Residents of Ballina Shire can expect a temporary one year increase in general income of 4.9%, including the 1.5% rate peg.
The council asked for a 17.64% cumulative increase over 3 years to be retained permanently in the rate base, but the request was declined in favour of the temporary increase.
IPART Chair Dr Peter Boxall said the rate increase is designed to assist council in their efforts to fund the Healthy Waterways program and infrastructure asset renewal, while still maintaining its financial sustainability in 2017-18.
"The average residential rate will increase by $45 in 2017-18, the average business rate by $184 and the average farmland rate by $68, but rates in 2018-19 will reduce unless another special variation is sought and approved," Dr Boxall said.
The increase is expected to be removed at the end of 2017-18.
Residents of the Byron Shire should expect a permanent increase in the general revenue by 7.5% for each of the next four years.
The rate increase is to supply the funds to reduce the council's infrastructure backlog and improve financial stability.
The cumulative increase of 33.55% is 24.24% more than the assumed rate peg increase over the four year period.
"The average residential rate will increase by $83 in 2017-18 or by $377 over four years. Average business rates will rise by $241 in the first year, while farmland rates will go up by an average of $95," Dr Boxall said.
All percentages include the 1.5% rate peg applicable to all NSW councils in 2017-18, and the rate peg in subsequent years.