What every councillor thinks about proposed rate hike
AS LISMORE City Council prepares to collate all the feedback from its two-month community consultation about a Special Rate Variation, The Northern Star asked councillors to give their thoughts on the issue.
We made efforts to contact every councillor; some were contacted several times.
Mayor Isaac Smith
He is already on the record about the council facing the challenge of balancing community expectations for services with levels of funding.
In August he said Lismore, like many NSW councils, delivered a broad range of services.
"The reality is council cannot continue to provide these current services without more revenue,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Darlene Cook
She said it would be a difficult decision.
"I've attended five council information stalls and community workshops, have listened to feedback given to staff and am paying attention,” she said.
"I'm torn between the two extremes; residents and business saying that cannot afford a rate rise and council's needs for increased revenue to continue providing its essential services.
He did not wait for the Star to ask the question, saying: "No comment.”
She said she was waiting to see the results of the community consultation, which will inform her final decision.
"I am hoping that people will realise our infrastructure backlog is significant and we do have an issue regarding how we maintain our roads and infrastructure,” she said.
He said he was looking at all options, "good, bad or different.”
"I have not made up mind,” he said.
"I won't make a decision until I see all the (community feedback) results.”
He said he was very concerned at the language used in the council's online survey, which he felt was "confusing”.
"I'm also very concerned that the SRV is an extra burden to people, Lismore is not a rich area and they will not be able to pay their bills,” he said.
She's against the special rate variation.
"I believe we should stick with the 2.5 per cent annual rate peg,” she said.
"I feel that council cannot be all things to all people.”
Will wait until the community feedback is in.
"I've been to five community consultations and its been interesting to be there when they are asking the community, 'are you happy to pay more in rates?',” he said.
"The reactions have wide, varied and very strong.”
Crs Vanessa Ekins, Adam Guise and Eddie Lloyd did not respond.
Option 1: No SRV - Rates would rise only by the rate peg limit set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) an assumed at a rate of 2.5 per cent annually.
Option 2: SRV over four years - Provide $3.74 million total additional funds for roads and $1 million total additional funds for economic development over four years. Rates rise by 7.5 per cent in year one (2020/21), 9.4 per cent in year two (2021/22), 3.9 per cent in year three (2022/23) and 3.2 per cent in year four (2023/24) including the annual rate peg.
Option 3: SRV over two years (original proposal) - Provide $4.5 million total additional funds for roads and $1.6 million total additional funds for economic development over two years. Rates rise by 17 per cent in year one (2020/21) and 6.9 per cent in year two (2021/22) including annual rate peg.
All feedback from round one and round two of the consultation will be provided to the council at its November 5 briefing one week ahead of the monthly meeting where a decision on whether to make an application to IPART for an SRV will be made.