Kyogle votes to lift rates 22% above peg over 20 years
FINDING cash to maintain its aging roads and bridges underpinned Kyogle Council's decision to vote for significant long-term rate increases at its meeting on Monday night.
The proposed 20-year financial plan includes cumulative rate hikes of 22% above maximum rate peg levels to help ease council's mounting infrastructure woes.
It's hoped the plan will satisfy new requirements under the state government's Fit for the Future reforms, qualifying it for low-interest loans and other incentives.
Despite the big rate rise, general manager Arthur Piggott said it was not the most severe option.
He said rates would need to rise by 46% beyond rate peg limits to meet all the government's criteria.
"We've got really three options," Mr Piggott said.
"One is that we meet all the local government criteria which will involve some heavy rate increases, another is to look at some moderate increases and seek other government assistance to make up the shortfall."
"Another one is to say we can't manage the situation, we need to amalgamate."
Mr Piggott said amalgamation was an "unknown" and could see consequences beyond significant rate rises.
"Our biggest concern is that we lose our representation and possibly even employment in the area."
The council is also banking on a proposal within government to boost financial assistance grants to rural councils at the expense of more cashed-up city counterparts.
Kyogle's draft plan will now go through a 28-day community consultation process that will address the question of amalgamation.
"We definitely want to obtain some community feedback because if the majority of the community does want to see [amalgamation] happen then we certainly need to look at that," Mr Piggott said.
To get resident feedback the council is considering an online survey, listening posts at major events and functions and a phone survey.
The consultation is expected to begin later this month.