Brian and Pam Maxwell with other residents who are concerned at the possible imposition of a special rate.
Brian and Pam Maxwell with other residents who are concerned at the possible imposition of a special rate. The Northern Star

Special levy plan angers ratepayers

A NEW policy that could see Ballina Shire Council charge some residents higher rates for particular services has outraged locals like Brian Maxwell.

The draft special rate policy, which makes reference to canal dredging and beach abatement as examples of what a special rate could be applied to, is intended to raise issues that are important to consider if the council decided to introduce a special rate.

However, it has Ballina Quays Estate residents like Mr Maxwell fired up - they say it is 'too vague, broad and discriminatory'.

“This is just an attempt by the council to get more money out of people who live by the water,” he said.

“But the biggest concern is the policy is so broad it could be used to charge me to repair a pothole outside my house, for example.

“It is totally unfair on Ballina Shire ratepayers.”

However, general manager Paul Hickey said if a special rate was introduced, it would not be directed at one property, or for something like repairing a pothole.

“The policy is intended to inform the council if it decided to introduce a special rate,” he said.

The council received 42 submissions from residents when the draft policy went on public exhibition recently.

According to a council report, the objections 'assumed the policy was drafted with the intent of introducing a special rate to pay for the dredging of canals at the Quays Estate', which Mr Hickey said was not the case.

In adopting the policy last week, Mr Hickey said the council had voted to withdraw the reference to canal dredging and beach abatement, as they were too specific.

However, he said a special rate could be applied to such services, or to a flood levy, for example.

Mr Hickey said the council did not need the policy to introduce a special rate, as it was permitted to do so under the Local Government Act. The policy's aim was to provide information, he said.



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