Hard times force prize drop

FALLING interest rates have scuttled the annual hopes of some Tweed ratepayers of winning a substantial prize such as a car when they pay their council rates in full.

Tweed Shire Council has been forced to scuttle its tradition of a handsome prize for full and early payment of rates because the amount it earns from interest will no longer justify an expensive prize.

Instead of a new $20,000 car as first prize for one lucky early payer, councillors have decided this year to instead offer a choice of $3000 worth of energy or water-saving whitegoods such as a washing machine or a $2500 holiday.

Corporate Services director Troy Green said the council simply could not afford anything more because it was only earning about 3.25per cent on investments.

That might only amount to an extra $65,000 earned in interest on the extra payments, making it hard to justify $20,000 on a new car for one lucky ratepayer plus second and third prizes.

For more than 20 years the council has offered an incentive prize for full payment of rates rather than quarterly payments, drawing the names of prizewinners from a barrel of names of those who had paid in full early.

This year it plans to offer a first prize of a $3000 energy saving and water-efficient retrofit package or a holiday to the value of $2500.

Second prize will be a choice of a $2000 energy and water-saving package or a $1500 holiday, and third prize a $1000 energy and water-saving package or a $500 holiday.

Staff said the packages could consist of energy efficient fridges, solar hot water systems, pool pump upgrades, tinted windows and fans, a choice of replacement whitegoods such as water-efficient washing machines, and rainwater tanks.

The value of the energy and water-saving packages has been made higher than the holiday to “encourage winners to opt for the green prize”.

Last year just over one-in-five ratepayers paid their bills early and in full, down slightly from a peak of 26 per cent of ratepayers in 2003-04.

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