New rates proposal now open for community feedback

Lismore City Council has launched a second round of community consultation on rates with a new proposal for consideration.

Council has been undertaking a community consultation on rates since 1 August 2019 about a proposed Special Rate Variation (SRV) that would apply to all Lismore ratepayers.

In this consultation, Council asked residents and ratepayers to consider a proposed SRV with a year one increase of 17% and a year two increase of 6.9%.

Council has responded to community feedback by developing a new SRV proposal to consider. Round one of the consultation is now closed and the community is being asked to provide comment on the new proposal during round two.

“Community feedback told us that the year one increase was higher than expected,” Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith explained.

“We have had lots of comments and suggestions and have listened to this feedback. We have developed a second round of consultation that includes a new proposal with smaller annual increases spread over a greater number of years. We are asking the community to take our new survey and provide feedback to help us make an informed decision.”

In the round two consultation, residents and ratepayers have three options to consider.

Option 1: No Special Rate Variation
Rates would rise only by the rate peg limit set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART). This is assumed at a rate of 2.5% each year.

Option 2: Special Rate Variation over four years
This option would provide $3.74 million total additional funds for roads and $1 million total additional funds for economic development over four years. Rates would rise by 7.5% in year one (2020/21), 9.4% in year two (2021/22), 3.9% in year three (2022/23) and 3.2% in year four (2023/24) including the annual rate peg.

Option 3: Special Rate Variation over two years (the original proposal)
This option would provide $4.5 million total additional funds for roads and $1.6 million total additional funds for economic development over two years. Rates would rise by 17% in year one (2020/21) and 6.9% in year two (2021/22) including the annual rate peg.

Mayor Smith explained that additional funding from an SRV would be directed into roads and economic development.

“At present our roads are not improving – an SRV would enable us to channel more funds into road reconstruction and addressing our backlog of works. As we all use roads, additional works would improve life for all residents and ratepayers,” Mayor Smith said.

“Funds would also be used to drive economic development initiatives and provide tangible benefits for the city. We want to find out how people feel about funding these initiatives as well as how they feel about funding projects relating to open spaces and sporting/recreational facilities into the future.”

Mayor Smith explained that Council’s revenue is regulated by IPART, which sets a ‘rate peg’ that limits the amount by which councils can increase rates from one year to the next.

“For many years, the rate peg has not kept pace with the increasing cost to maintain our assets and provide services to the community,” he said.

“So we need to have this important conversation about rates and how we can continue to fund services adequately into the future.”

Council is asking all residents and ratepayers to have their say on the new proposal during the round two consultation.

All feedback from round one and round two of the consultation will be provided to Council at its 12 November 2019 meeting where a decision on whether to make an application to IPART for an SRV will be made.

The round two rates consultation is open for community feedback until 30 September 2019.

Source: Lismore City Council