Cr Warren Polglase introduced the motion.
Cr Warren Polglase introduced the motion. Blainey Woodham

Ratepayers face $13 a year for environmental levy

TWEED ratepayers may be slugged an additional $13 a year with Tweed Shire Council investigating the introduction of an environmental levy.

At Thursday night's monthly meeting councillors voted for a report to be prepared into imposing a 1% special levy above the 3.4% capped rate that if approved would be imposed from 2014-15.

Cr Warren Polglase, who introduced the motion, said the levy would raise half-a- million dollars annually to spend on environmental steps that would ordinarily be taken from the general fund.

This would allow money to be freed up to be then put into fixing local roads.

"One of our biggest issues here is roads. If we can generate more funds to fix them, a lot of ratepayers would support that," he said.

The council needed to find alternative funding arrangements as rate capping at 3.4% would not change regardless of which party was in state government, he said. Cr Polglase said other NSW councils already had such a levy and Tweed should also be "bold enough and brave enough" to look outside the square.

"This would cost the average ratepayer $13.14 extra per year," he said.

Such a levy would have to be approved by the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal.

Cr Polglase said the council would have to present a "strong case" to the tribunal showing which environmental initiatives they wanted to use the levy funds on. Cr Katie Milne commended Cr Polglase for his concern for the environment but was concerned that there may be better alternatives than an environmental levy.

A report on the issue is due to be considered by council at the November meeting.

Under the State Government's criteria, the special rate must be for a specific range of projects and residents must be consulted, although they don't have to agree to it to be approved.

The levy must be for a specific period and it can only be implemented as a percentage of rates, not a set amount per ratepayer.

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