Big rates hike on council agenda

JUST under three dollars a week – that's how much extra Tweed households are likely to be slugged if Tweed Shire councillors push ahead with an 8.29% increase in rates and charges at tomorrow's council meeting.

Most of the wallop – a 7.5% increase on general land rates – was approved four years ago by the previous NSW Labor Government as part of a long-term plan.

The same plan allows a further 7.5% hike for the 2012/2013 financial year.

Council staff have recommended councillors push ahead with the increases in rates, garbage, sewerage and water-access fees outlined in the draft budget.

The move affects 36,717 residential properties across the shire. For just over half of those, on the minimum rate, that means their council rates and charges bill will jump $141.75 a year – an average of $2.72 a week – to $1858.20 next year.

Council staff confirmed about 23% of householders who are pensioners will be entitled to a rebate of up to $450 off their total bill, made up of up to $250 on ordinary rates, up to $87.50 on water rates and up to $87.50 on sewer rates.

Rates and charges for businesses jump by a similar percentage – 8.23% – with a base rate starting at $1918.

The main highlights of the budget include a $1.096 million proposed neighbourhood centre at Pottsville Beach.

Only five of the seven councillors – and possibly just four – are likely to be at tomorrow's council meeting, with Mayor Kevin Skinner and councillor Warren Polglase at a confe- rence in Canberra.

If councillor Phil Youngblutt, who has been undergoing medical tests in hospital, fails to make it, only four councillors could be present, raising the prospect of acting mayor Barry Longland using his casting vote in the event of tied votes.



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