Byron Labor opposes 60% rate rise proposal

WHAT do you think about the proposed rate rise of over 60% for Byron Shire?

Byron Labor is asking residents of the Byron Shire Council area to sign a petition rejecting the proposal.

"We have had over 12 years of a Greens Party led council and our local infrastructure is crumbling, our roads are a mess and the only solution that our Mayor can come up with is a 60% rate rise for local residents," Asren Pugh, Acting Secretary of Byron Labor, said.

"Nearly 30% of council expenditure is spent on looking after tourists. It's time to make them pay, not slug residents with a massive new bill."

Council should be looking at all other options before raising residential rates, he said.

Byron Labor has called for the businesses that benefit from tourists to bear the burden of any increased rate rise.

"We already have the lowest business rates in the region with businesses in places like the Lismore CBD paying double Byrons business rate," Mr Pugh said.

"The millionaire commercial landlords of Byron Bay can afford to contribute a little more."

"We also have up to an estimated 1000 holiday let houses across the shire that are taking housing from local people and profiting from tourists.

"These properties should be helping fund our local infrastructure and they should pay the increased business rates.

"If a property is holiday let and AirBnb for over 3 months of the year, it is a business, not residential.

"This would act as a defacto bed tax and mean local accommodation providers are paying something to support the tourists they profit from.

"There are other opportunities that should be looked at by council, such as increasing parking fees, particularly at popular tourist hotspots like Main Beach and Wategoes, that would take the pressure off local residents.

"This massive rate rise is a lazy and unimaginative response from council leadership and it's just not good enough."

Residents can go to to sign the petition.

It will delivered before the next council meeting on February 2.

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