Ferry fees debated in drastic changes to council charges
OF THE many drastic changes to Ballina Shire council charges, the public call for an additional Burns Point Ferry fee was heavily debated by councillors.
At Wednesday's finance committee meeting, general manager Paul Hickey handed down a report outlining the myriad of fees and charges required or allowed to be raised for council services in 2020/21.
The debate came after council received a submission from the Ballina Peninsula Residents Association requesting discounted season passes for trailers, specifically for residents that tow trailers infrequently.
For those having an annual Burns Point Ferry ticket for their car and separately for their trailer would equate to the same fee as a car ($6.50).
Mr Hickey said requests for discounted trailer season tickets had been made and council had repeatedly agreed to apply a minimum ticket price equivalent to a motor vehicle ticket price, irrespective of whether the towing vehicle is a season-ticket holder or not.
He recommended no change to the ferry ticket pricing was recommended.
The one change recommended for the ferry was to remove cash as a form of payment.
"With a number of high-risk staff (i.e. health and age) operating the ferry it is timely to reduce the cash handling, which has an inherent risk of theft as well as the need for a specific cash collection process, which also comes at a cost," Mr Hickey said.
He said council previously decided to waive all casual ferry fees to June 30 2020 due to concerns over the cash handling and this now provides an opportunity to remove cash permanently from July 1.
Cr Phil Meehan argued that if a fee was only for occasional residential use, it wasn't an unreasonable charge to have.
"Having an annual trailer free we'd be trying to complicate things further," he said.
Cr Williams said he supported the request for a season ticket for a trailer which equated to about $32.
He then moved an amendment for council to introduce a car and trailer annual fee for the ferry at an additional 10 per cent on the car fees.
Cr Ben Smith spoke against the amendment saying the additional trailer fee, agreeing it would just "complicate the process."
Cr Stephen McCarthy said he couldn't agree on the amendment.
"I think we have to move the original motion to get rid of cash, the COVID virus has proved that it's dirty and it doesn't leave a paper trail," he said.
The amendment was lost with Cr David Wright, Cr Meehan, Cr Sharon Parry, Cr Smith and Cr McCarthy voting against it.
The original motion was carried unanimously.