Councillors and residents rally against rate rises
LABOR councillors have slammed their Greens, National Party and independent counterparts on Byron Council for joining forces to support a rate increase.
Despite strong community opposition to a 33.5% rate increase, Labor councillors Paul Spooner and Jan Hackett were the only two votes against the proposal at the last Byron Bay council meeting.
There was strong opposition from the public gallery during the debate as well, according to Cr Spooner.
"The case for a rate rise was simply not made" he said.
"The community response to council's consultation has been strongly against a rate rise. People have asked me extensively why Byron Council hasn't done more to look at raising more revenue from tourists rather than residents."
"I moved to delay the decision on a rate rise for 12 months so that the community had a real opportunity to discuss the options and bring them with us to a solution.
"Unfortunately, this was not supported and The Greens, National Party and other councillors joined forces to ram this rate rise through today."
Councillor Spooner said the decision was made despite a community petition of 623 local residents against the rate rise being presented at the meeting by the Acting Secretary of Byron Labor, Asren Pugh.
"Byron Labor has taken a strong stand against the rate rise decision that was made today" Mr Pugh said.
"This decision will hit residents with an average additional yearly bill of nearly $400, and many will be slugged a lot more.
"This is just too much in an area with already high housing costs and will add to pressure for low income residents to move elsewhere.
"It will mean that Byron Shire will have the highest residential rates on the North Coast."
Quotes from local residents from http://bit.ly/StopTheRateRise
"Rate fees are so high I'll have to sell as it's becoming to (sic) expensive to live in the shire." - Tracey Argue
"Asking residents to pay this huge increase while not exploring ways to make tourists (and those who profit from them) is patently unfair." - John Wallis
"As a senior rate payer & resident of the Byron Shire for 35 years, I'm very afraid/concerned of the possible increase in rates & how that would affect my standard of living. As we all know, our beautiful Shire is extremely full of tourists and I firmly believe it's time that they help to shoulder some of the responsibility instead of us rate payers. I do not support a rate increase." - Jeana Campbell