John and Valerie Knight of Casino will be making cuts to their expenditure to fund an increase in their land rates.
John and Valerie Knight of Casino will be making cuts to their expenditure to fund an increase in their land rates. Scott Harlum

Pensioners hit by rates rise again

CASINO aged pensioners Valerie and John Knight have had to limit their heating, cooling and other costs to make ends meet in the face of increased living expenses in recent years.

Now the couple will be forced to find a bit extra in their already tight budget to fund an increase in council rates.

Rates will rise by up to 3.6% next financial year, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) announced on Tuesday.

Part of the approved increase (0.4% according to IPART) was attributed to the impact of the carbon price, to be introduced from July next year, on council costs.

"We have to go without something," Mr Knight said.

"We don't visit our daughter in Queensland; we used to go up two or three times a year.

"We don't go to the movies and we used to go to the club for a meal maybe once a month, but we don't do that now."

While councils can apply to the minister for local government to increase their rates beyond the 3.6% "rate peg", Mr and Mrs Knight are comforted that Richmond Valley Council has no plans to do so.

Kyogle Council and Lismore City Council also have no plans to apply for an additional increase.

Byron shire residents will find out next week if that council will apply for an additional increase, and a seven-year agreement with the State Government limits the Tweed council's increase to 3.5%.

Ballina Shire Council did not respond to a request for information on its rate plans.

Meanwhile, a stoush has broken out between North Coast Federal and State MPs over the impact of the carbon price on council rates.

Ballina State MP Don Page noted 11% of the IPART approved increase was attributable to the carbon price and said the increase demonstrated the carbon price would impact on family budgets.

Page Federal MP Janelle Saffin downplayed the carbon price impact and said the household assistance package was designed to cover all associated price impacts.

"The IPART recommendation translates to about a $3.30 annual increase in household rates in 2012/13 as a result of the carbon price, or about six cents a week," Ms Saffin said.



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