Tweed Mayor Kevin Skinner
Tweed Mayor Kevin Skinner

Rising rates

COUNCIL rates bills for most home owners in the Tweed will rise by almost $3 a week as part of Tweed Shire Council's $150 million budget for the 2011-2012 financial year.

By comparison, homeowners on the Gold Coast will pay much less, with that council increasing rates by 5.2%.

Tweed councillors voted on Tuesday night to push ahead with their planned rate rise, which includes a 7.5% increase in general rates approved by the NSW Labor government four years ago.

Only Greens Party councillor Katie Milne voted against the budget after unsuccessfully arguing for some funds set aside for open space management to be diverted to other areas, including river projects.

Cr Milne spoke forcefully against a 4.2% pay rise, because she believed councillors would only earn such a rise by pushing sustainability issues in their decisions. See page 6 for more on Cr Milne's stand.

No one argued against the rate rise.

On the Gold Coast, ratepayers on the minimum bracket would pay an extra 3.5% on general rates, in line with CPI, and a 5.2% increase after adding other levies.

The City Transport levy jumped $17.50, or 18.7%, to help the council fund the rapid transport system.

At the Tweed Shire Council meeting, Cr Milne's move to trim the open space funds failed to attract a seconder after corporate services chief Troy Green said modelling had predicted the money would be needed.

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

Other big items in the budget include $1.1 million towards a regional museum on Flagstaff Hill at Tweed Heads; $3.2 million towards a regional museum and storage shed in Murwillumbah; $11.3 million upgrade at Banora Point sewage treatment works and nearly $9 million towards a sewerage system for Burringbar.

The 7.5% rise in general land rates approved four years ago by the NSW government is part of a long-term plan that allows for a 7.5% hike next year.

The move affects 36,717 residential properties across the shire.

Of those, about half are on the minimum rate, which 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.

Most others can calculate their general rates bill by using their official land valuation and multiplying it by the residential rate of 0.3764 cents in the dollar.

About 23% of householders who are pensioners can get 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 sewerage rates.

Rates and charges for businesses will jump by 8.23%, with the base rate starting at $1918.

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