Richard Gates, President of the Evans Head and District Ratepayers and Residents' Association, with protesters outside the Richmond Valley Council chambers.
Richard Gates, President of the Evans Head and District Ratepayers and Residents' Association, with protesters outside the Richmond Valley Council chambers. The Northern Star

Unity lacking over new rating system

JEAN Auckrim's rates will fall about $94 under Richmond Valley Council's new unified rating structure.

However, that didn't stop the Casino woman joining a band of 30 people to protest the new system when it was passed by the council on Tuesday.

"It just isn't a fair system," Ms Auckrim said.

In a 5-4 vote, the controversial motion - which will mean Casino and Evans Head residents will pay the same rate in the dollar on land value - was passed

The new structure will lower rates for Casino residents, while bumping up rates at Evans Head by an average $295 a year.

The unified rating system also means that over the next two years rates for businesses in Casino will be reduced by $476, while Evans Heads businesses will pay an average $1335 more.

Cr Robert Mustow initially brought the idea of a unified rating system to the attention of the council, following some residents' concerns that rates differed across the region.

He argued that considering the unified rating system was successfully used in many coastal councils, and that rates for water, garbage and sewerage were the same across the region, a unified rating system made sense.

However, Cr Mustow's views were not shared by the Evans Head and District Ratepayers and Residents' Association, which rejected the council's proposal at a meeting attended by 159 local residents last month.

Association president Dr Richard Gates addressed the council on Monday and urged councillors to think carefully before they voted for a motion that was 'legally sanctioned but not fair or equitable'.

Speaking against the motion was Cr Ray Jeffery, who argued it was not fair that '17 per cent of the population (in Evans Head) would be paying for 35 per cent of the area's general rates'.

The decision was described as a 'political ploy' by Ms Auckrim following the meeting. She said it was a way for councillors to get votes from Casino residents who would benefit from the decision.

Dr Gates said the Evans Head ratepayers' group would approach NSW Local Government Minister Paul Lynch to protest.


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