Councillor explains why he walked out on rates discussion
IT'S a decision set to impact thousands of ratepayers and yet some Lismore City councillors remain uncertain on whether to increase rates or not.
Councillors on Tuesday night met for a comprehensive briefing on the Special Rate Variation, a week out from deciding whether to support or reject proposed changes.
The SRV options include sticking to the rate peg set by Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, asking for a staggered increase of 7.5, 9.4, 3.9 and 3.2 per cent increases over four years, or an increase over two years of 17 per cent in the 2020/21 financial year and 6.9 per cent the following year.
But before councillors could be briefed, Cr Gianpiero Battista stormed out after complaining he hadn't received the data he had requested three times prior to the meeting about the first round of community responses to the SRV, which was completed several months ago.
Cr Battista said he was concerned councillors were being briefed on data they hadn't seen prior to Tuesday's briefing.
"If I want to ask a question about the data it should be ahead of the (council) meeting," he said.
"I haven't seen the actual submissions.
"My experience with SRV is that sometimes it can be pushed through a little bit.
"I haven't seen the data. I want to see the submission to make up my mind."
Cr Battista said he'd requested to see the phase one consultation results separately to ensure the community were being understood.
"The reason why I wanted to see the data was that if people were concerned about the 17 per cent (rate increase) and said 'we're not agreeing with a SRV', then at that point we shouldn't have gone for phase two if the majority said no (to an SRV)," Cr Battista explained.
"I wanted to see exactly what people said (in phase one)."
The council was informed at Tuesday's briefing 50 per cent of ratepayers during both consultation phases stated they were not in favour an SRV, while 35 per cent said they were in favour of the four year rate variation and 15 per cent were supporting the two year rate hike.
Cr Battista said if he could see the phase one breakdown of data he might be able to come to terms with where his vote might go next Tuesday.
"I just want to see the results of the data. I want to see the evidence before I make a decision but there's a lot of concern out there," he said.
"We're going towards a time of instability financially for Australia.
"I'm very worried about the impact of those people on low-socio economic level who won't be able to recover the extra costs like a working person may."
The council's agenda and SRV report was released on Wednesday ahead of the council meeting next Tuesday.
Crs Adam Guise and Eddie Lloyd will be on leave and absent from next week's meeting and therefore unable to vote on the proposed SRV.