Building work fuels rate hike

By KEN SAPWELL

TWEED ratepayers could face an average $30 increase in rates if a council draft budget is approved.

The council is pushing for a six per cent rate hike which provides the framework for one of the most ambitious capital works program ever undertaken in the shire.

The council this week decided to borrow $4 million to help pay for the $70 million capital works splurge, including a start on the long-stalled revamp of the Jack Evans Boat Harbour in Tweed Heads.

The $1.5 million overhaul is part of stage one of the implementation of the Tweed Heads master plan which is set to revitalise the town's run-down CBD.

Murwillumbah also gets a share of the spoils with a $7 million redevelopment of the town's pool complex, which will include a hydrotherapy pool and a multi-storey car park, as well as extensions to its art gallery.

The shire's aged population will be catered for with a new respite centre while a social plan will be implemented in a bid to offer better opportunities for young people.

But the big-spending program is dependent on the NSW Government giving approval to exceed its 3.5 per cent rating cap by 2.5 per cent.

Under the proposed rate hike, ratepayers on the minimum rate will pay $1266 for their rates, water sewerage and garbage services ? an increase of $30.50 on the year before.

But people living in the fast-developing coastal towns and businesses in most CBDs will pay substantially more because of higher land valuations.

Finance chief Reg Norvill told the council that just 52 per cent of residents in the shire were on the minimum rate and contributed to 34 per cent of the shire's rate income.

The other 48 per cent were responsible for the remaining two-thirds of the total rate income.

The council voted 10-1 to adopt the draft and put it out for public comment for a two-week period.

Public meetings will also be held at Kingscliff and the Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah Civic Centres.

Only Cr Lynne Beck voted against the budget, saying she believed more should have been spent on fixing many of the shire's gravel roads.

Mr Norvill said the general rate component in the rates bill of $573.92 compared favourably with the state average of $590.



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