What are your rates going to cost you?
What are your rates going to cost you? Barry Leddicoat

RATE HIKES: How your council plans to pay for the future

LISMORE ratepayers can expect to cop an average annual rate bill of more than $3200 by July 2018 as the council boosts its revenue with a massive 7.2% general rate hike.

This is just one forecast revealed in a special report by The Northern Star analysing what ratepayers in Ballina, Byron, Lismore, Kyogle and Richmond Valley can expect to pay in coming years.

Lismore's average rate bill in 2018 will be $3246, assuming the new council endorses the planned 7.2% rate rise in 2018.

The estimate includes residential urban rates, water, sewerage and waste charges.

Lismore City Council general manager Gary Murphy said the planned 2018 rate hike was the "reality" of finding $4 million in extra revenue to achieve financial sustainability.

"The current Long Term Financial Plan achieves this through a $2 million saving through operational efficiencies and a $2 million special rate variation in the 2018-19 year," Mr Murphy said.

He said the newly elected council would still need to endorse the plan following a review of the long-term financial plan and community consultation.

"No special rate variation can happen without this plan in place as well as an extensive community consultation about service levels and the community's capacity to pay," Mr Murphy said.

However, he cautioned there wasn't a "choice" in achieving financial sustainability, due to the demands of the New South Wales Government's Fit for the Future local government reforms.

"But how we achieve that is still very much up for discussion," Mr Murphy said.

Ballina

BALLINA Shire's big investment in a state-of-the- art sewerage system means its ratepayers are being slugged with the biggest combined increase of any of the five councils in this report.

If endorsed by the newly elected council, the average rate bill will rise 10% in the next two years. By 2018-19 Ballina's average rate bill - including water, sewerage and waste - will sit at $3089.

Based on consecutive rate hikes over the four years from July 2015 to June 2019 the average rate bill will be 21% higher, or $545.

It will still be about $160 cheaper than Lismore's average rate bill.

Finance manager Peter Morgan also noted that the new council was yet to consider the 2017-18 rate hikes and they could be subject to change.

Richmond Valley

and Kyogle

Both Richmond Valley and Kyogle have previously locked in above rate peg increases, approved by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Authority in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

With those significant rate hikes continuing to take effect, Kyogle residential ratepayers can expect to pay $2617 in 2018-19, while Richmond Valley urban residents will pay an estimated $2851.

In dollar terms the rate hikes will cost ratepayers a cumulative total of $440 over the four years from 2015-16 to 2018-19.

The estimates also include general rates, water, sewerage and rubbish.

Kyogle's average bill will increase by 9.5% over the next two years, while Richmond Valley's will increase by 8.8%.

For Kyogle residents that means a hike of $227, while the back pocket hit for Richmond Valley residents will average about $232.

Byron

BYRON Shire residents could be in for a shock next year as the council plans to raise rates well beyond rate pegging limits.

The rises will make Byron Shire's rates the mostly costly in the region - an unenviable crown which was once the domain of Lismore.

The maximum "growth" outlook being debated by the council at this point is 12.5% for four years, or a "stable" outlook of 7.5% for four years.

If the growth outlook came into force, Byron residents could expect to face an average general rate bill of $3511 by 2018.



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