Council to scrap special rate hike

LISMORE City Council last night rejected a proposal to raise residential rates above the regular annual increase, but it will seek to raise business rates by 0.44 per cent.

Councillors voted 7 to 4 in favour of the changes after the most extensive community consultation process the council has undertaken to gauge community opinion on the proposed 3.51 per cent special rate variation.

Council earlier rejected the full proposed rate rise by asimilar margin.

“We are listening to the community and doing what they have asked us,” deputy mayor Issac Smith said.

A report on the community consultation by Twyford Consulting, released on Friday night, said the level of ‘mistrust’ of the council ‘coloured’ ratepayers’ opinion on the controversial proposal.

The Twyford report said while there was no community support for the extra rate hike, the business community was generally supportive of increasing their rates by 0.44pc, despite advice theDepartment of Local Government would reject any proposal below half a per cent.

Councillors decided to seek the 3.51pc increase above the 2.6 per cent pegging cap to raise an additional $800,000.

Under the proposal, $500,000 would have been spent on roads, $200,000 on the environment and $100,000 for business promotion.

Last night’s vote means the council will now propose a $108,000 deficit for next financial year’s operating budget.

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