BACKFLIP: Lismore council abandons plans for 24% rate hike
LISMORE City Council will be withdrawing its controversial plan to increase rates by 24 per cent over four years, partly due to growing concern over the impact of Coronavirus.
The council last year decided to apply to IPART to implement a staggered increase of 7.5, 9.4, 3.9 and 3.2 per cent over four years to fund an infrastructure and roads backlog.
But after community backlash and further lengthy discussions within council, councillors voted in favour Tuesday night to withdraw its application to IPART.
The fear of Cronavirus, mentioned by community members and councillors, was added to the list of reasons why many people considered imposing the rate rise was the wrong decision for the region.
Councillors also discussed at length the usual concern about the financial burden on ratepayers, the ongoing recovery from natural disasters and the low-socio-economic demographic of the region.
Councillor Nancy Casson, who put forward the motion to withdraw the IPART application, said unless the council acted smarter, a significant rate rise would hike up the amount of homelessness and create further financial hardships on ratepayers.
Cr Adam Guise voted in favour of the application withdrawal and said it would be wrong for the council to impose higher rates when it couldn't manage its own budget.
"I cannot be confident that we have our own house in order before we go out to the population and impose on them a rate hike," Cr Guise said.
"The community is one of the most socially disadvantaged in NSW.
"This isn't a community that can afford more rate costs."
But Cr Elly Bird said the council had a responsibility to ensure it doesn't further backslide into more financial troubles.
"This has been on the cards for a whole (council) term, and the terms before that and before that," Cr Bird said.
"The SRV has been one of the ways to address our infrastructure backlog."
Earlier in the meeting, the council's general manger Shelley Oldham indicated some concern about the SRV application moving forward.
"We have been notified by two people they (intend to) challenge the SRV in the courts, they have not shared whether they're going to support it in favour or opposition of the SRV," Ms Oldham said.
IPART were due to hand down their decision in May.