SAVE THE CBD: Lismore mayor Isaac Smith said feedback from many residents has indicated that a vibrant CBD is critical if they are to have a special rate variation.
SAVE THE CBD: Lismore mayor Isaac Smith said feedback from many residents has indicated that a vibrant CBD is critical if they are to have a special rate variation. Kate O'Neill

Want better roads? You'll have to pay for that

ROADS and a vibrant central business district have been highlighted as two of the key issues for residents if they are to agree to a special rate variation.

Lismore City Council has asked the community for vital input into a 10-year rating strategy.

According to Mayor Isaac Smith, the council is facing the challenge of balancing community expectations for services with levels of funding.

Cr Smith said he wanted ratepayers to carefully consider what issues were important to them -- and to keep their expectation in context.

"The fact of the matter is we have similar rates to Ballina, yet are responsible for twice as many roads and five times as many public green spaces," he said.

"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 and environmental protection.

"The reality is council cannot continue to provide these current services without more revenue."

Council is asking the community to provide feedback about a proposed 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.

Cr Smith said recent feedback showed people were very keen to ensure their roads were in good repair and the CBD flourished.

"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," he said.

"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."

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).

"As the SRV phases in, the money will focus in on roads and the community in particular supporting local businesses, this means more employment and our city gets a boost," he said.

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," Cr Smith said.

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

Cr Smith said 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 and they will be calling ,biles as well as landlines," he said.

Feedback is due by 30 September.

To get involved and have your say, visit www.yoursay.lismore.nsw.gov.au

Hard copy information and community surveys are also available at Council's Corporate Centre, 43 Oliver Avenue, Goonellabah, or at the Lismore and Goonellabah Libraries.

Timeline and next steps

  • September 30: Community consultation closes
  • November 5: Council provided with community consultation results
  • November 12: Council votes on whether to apply for an SRV
  • February 2020: Application to IPART due.