Byron Shire rates will go up in 2017.
Byron Shire rates will go up in 2017. Contributed

How much could your rates go up next year?

INFORMATION about a proposed special rate variation will be included in Byron Shire rates notices next week.

The Funding our Future booklet outlines three options for a special rate variation which would impact the general rate amount (ordinary land rate) on your rates notice.

It would not affect other service charges such as waste, water, sewer and stormwater.

The three options being considered range from an increase of 7.5%, 10% through to 12.5%. This includes an estimated rate peg of 2.5%.

The new rate would come into effect from 2017/18 and would raise money to fix the council's ageing infrastructure.

Mayor Simon Richardson said, that for an average residential ratepayer paying about $1139 per year, this would mean an increase in the first year of $85 at 7.5%, $114 at 10% and $142 at 12.5%.

The council would also borrow an additional $6 million over the four-year period to help reconstruct the bridge network.

"Many of Byron Shire's roads, footpaths, buildings and community facilities were built in the post-war era, making them over 70 years old," Cr Richardson said.

"The challenge Council is facing is how to maintain and renew these assets into the future with a growing community, changing needs and a high visitor impact."

Cr Richardson said each option had the potential to raise about $16.5 million to $28 million over the four year period and this funding would go straight into infrastructure.

"We know our roads, drainage, footpaths, buildings and public amenities are not satisfactory," he said.

"In fact, it's no surprise that 92% of residents who participated in a recent community survey told us that sealed urban roads should be our top priority infrastructure asset.

"Whilst our efforts in the last four years have clearly shown our commitment to solving this problem with additional funding being raised from internal savings efficiencies, rationalizing under-utilised assets and generating new income through pay parking, it's still not enough.

"It may not be a popular conversation to have with our 15,500 ratepayers.

"However, we need to be firmly focused on our financial sustainability and how we support our ageing infrastructure.

"A general rate rise was flagged as part of our Council Improvement Program, submitted to state government as part of our Fit for the Future submission, and it's now time to have the conversation with ratepayers and residents.

"We've not had a special rate variation since 2008/09 and continued unrealistic rate capping levels has meant that our costs of operation routinely exceed our major revenue source.

"Without a rate rise, our infrastructure will continue to deteriorate and we cannot afford to let this happen."

The options

Each special rate variation option includes the NSW state government's estimated rate peg of 2.5% and will have varying impacts on assets and service quality.

Option 1 at 7.5 percent still sees some of the Council assets continuing to deteriorate and the focus would remain on high, poor condition assets.

Option 2 at 10 per cent would stop the deterioration of assets and funding would be channeled into essential maintenance and renewal programs.

Option 3 at 12.5 percent would see assets gradually improve and Council have the ability to fund some new assets.

At the end of the four year period the Special Rate Variation increase would be built into the general rate base and permanently retained.

Like to know more?

Staff will be at Farmers Markets over the next four weeks and also at Ocean Shores Shopping Centre and outside the Suffolk Park Spar. Days and times are listed within the booklet or at www.byron.nsw.gov.au/funding-our-future.



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