Community feedback wanted on rates consultation

Lismore City Council is asking the community for vital input into a 10-year rating strategy over the next two months.

Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith explained that Council is facing the challenge of balancing community expectations for services with levels of funding.

“Like many NSW councils, we deliver a broad range of services from roads to rubbish collection, parks and playgrounds, cultural activities and events, libraries and swimming pools, environmental protection, and much more,” he said.

“The reality Council faces is that it cannot continue to provide these current services without more revenue.

“At present, Council’s revenue is regulated by the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART). IPART sets a ‘rate peg’ that limits the amount by which councils can increase rates from one year to the next,” Mayor Smith explained.

“For many years, the rate peg has not kept pace with the increasing cost to maintain our assets and provide services to the community. We are now consulting about a rating strategy that includes a proposed application to IPART to raise rates above the rate pegging limit.”

Council is asking the community to provide feedback about a proposed Special Rate Variation (SRV) to be introduced in the next two years to fund roads and economic development as well as consider future projects and funding options for open spaces and sporting/recreational facilities.

Part one of the consultation asks residents to consider a proposed permanent SRV to raise $4.5 million for roads and $1.6 million for economic development annually above the rate pegging limit. It would be introduced over a two-year period (2020/21 and 2021/22).

Part two of the consultation looks at future rating options. Residents will be asked questions about our open spaces and sporting/recreational facilities including what services are most important to them and if people are willing to consider funding these through a special rate variation in the future.

“We need our community to carefully consider the SRV and longer-term rating options, and give us feedback on how they wish Council to proceed,” Mayor Smith said.

“We encourage all residents and ratepayers to get involved in the community consultation and have their say about the services we provide.”

Residents can now complete an online survey, register for a community workshop and/or visit information kiosks and talk face-to-face with staff. There will also be a random telephone survey of residents conducted by an independent research company in late August 2019.

Feedback is due by 30 September 2019.

Source: Lismore City Council