Tweed costly by comparison

THE Tweed has lower average council rates than most officially similar areas according to the latest comparative data released by the NSW Department of Local Government.

However, rates in nearby council areas which some residents might consider a better comparison, such as Byron, Ballina and Coffs Harbour, were significantly lower than those in the Tweed.

The statistics for the 2003-2004 financial year are contained in a study of all NSW councils issued by the department earlier this month and available on its website.

Their availability coincides with the decision by the Tweed Shire Council's new three administrators last week axe plans for a special rate increase of 2.5 per cent, above the generally allowed 3.5 per cent increase across NSW.

The comparison places the Tweed in the 'group five' councils which includes Lake Macquarie, Newcastle, Shoalhaven and Wollongong.

Among those councils, the Tweed had the second lowest general residential rates at $601.81, well below Wollongong where typical homeowners paid $721.97 and below the group average of $641.36.

However, the rates were substantially more than Bryon Shire where average homeowners paid $518.48, Ballina ($509.27) and Coffs Harbour ($561.60).

But if residents are really after low rates, they should move inland to Brewarrina where the average bill was just $87.14.

The highest was in Hunters Hill in Sydney ($1054.31).

Average household water bills on the Tweed were among the lowest in the state at $212.19 for that year. The NSW average was $325. Byron residents paid on average $286.19, Ballina $239.38 and Coffs Harbour $354.84.

However, previously Council officers have pointed out the Tweed average is reduced by a relatively high proportion of units and duplexes where residents use little water outside.

Tweed Shire Council employed the equivalent of 580 full-time staff compared to its group five average of 815 staff.

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