RVC propose fee increases
RESIDENTS are encouraged to make themselves familiar with Richmond Valley Council's Draft Revenue Policy 2017-2018, which is on public exhibition until Friday June 2.
Council's General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said the Revenue Policy was reviewed annually and included rates and charges, and financial outcomes including proposed borrowings.
Mr Macdonald said local governments relied heavily on rates and charges, so much so that in 2017-2018 around 40 percent of Council's income would come from these sources.
In developing the 2017-2018 income budget, the following increases have been proposed:
. General rates - to increase by 5.50% consistent with the approved special rate variation.
. Waste annual charge - domestic waste charge to increase by 5.18% to $447.
. Waste annual charge - non-domestic waste charge to increase by 10.12% to $468.
. Waste infrastructure charge - new charge of $25 introduced to contribute towards the construction of a new landfill cell at Nammoona Waste and Resource Recovery Facility, and to fund ongoing asset renewals of the waste management program.
. Water annual charges - to increase by 5%.
. Sewerage annual charges - to increase by 1.5% (in line with the rate peg).
Mr Macdonald said general rate income allowed the council to maintain infrastructure such as roads, parks, community centres, playgrounds and sports fields, footpaths and bike paths; and through annual charges and specific service fees, provided residents with a range of services including waste management, water supply, sewage services, libraries, planning and development, environmental services, food regulation, and much more.
He said during the 2017-2018 financial year the money received from fees and charges would provide much-needed improvements to water and sewer services, as well as essential waste infrastructure.
"These proposed increases are essential for the delivery of quality services, as well as helping Council maintain community assets, improve local infrastructure and carry out local government functions," Mr Macdonald said.
"No one likes a rate rise, however, Council needs to address not only the revenue side of the business, but also the cost side to the equation. Like in any other business, you have to have the financial means to take care of that business.
"The economic reality is that as costs continue to go up you need to offset that with increased revenues.
"The cost of doing nothing is more expensive."
The council has also reviewed fees and charges associated with the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange (NRLX).
Mr Macdonald said a study of other saleyards, in particular facilities with a roof and soft flooring plus facilities similar in size and throughput to the NRLX, made it clear NRLX fees were below industry standards.
He said with this in mind, and along with the need to repay a $3.5 million loan, the council was proposing a fee structure more in line with what other saleyards were charging to move the facility closer to a breakeven financial operation.
Fees and charges relative to NRLX stakeholders proposed for 2017-2018 are:
. Saleyards vendor usage fee - to increase by 6.06% to $10.50.
. Saleyards vendor capital works levy - to increase by 81.82% to $2.
. Saleyards agents' business licence fee - to increase by 5% to $10,500.
. Saleyards agents' business usage fee - new charge of $1 per head sold.
Mr Macdonald said for the NRLX to be financially sustainable, it was necessary for fees to be brought into line with industry standards.
He said in return, all stakeholders would have the benefit of one of the most modern selling facilities in Australia, at their doorstep.
"Last year the Richmond Valley community made it clear that Council should retain ownership of the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange," Mr Macdonald said.
"The community's desire for the facility was clearly identified: Council to continue to own and operate the facility; the facility to be upgraded to modern standards and operate as a financially stable, self-funded business.
"This meant a number of changes for the NRLX facility. To upgrade, funding was needed. The Federal Government agreed to a $3.5 million co-contribution, meaning Council had to borrow $3.5 million to commence a $7 million upgrade.
"Additionally, to meet community expectations, a fee structure had to be developed to allow the facility to be run as a financially stable business."
Mr Macdonald said Council would continue to pursue funding opportunities to enable the full upgrade of the facility, which would require an additional $7 million.
The Draft Revenue Policy will be on exhibition until Friday 2 June. The Policy can be downloaded from the On Exhibition page on Council's website, or you can pick up copies from the council's Customer Service Centres in Casino and Evans Head, and from local libraries and visitor information centres.
Submissions can be made in person at Council offices, in writing address to the General Manager, Richmond Valley Council, Locked Bag 10, Casino or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Following the public consultation process, the Policy will be fully considered by the Council at its Tuesday June 27 meeting.