FLEXIBLE BUDGET: Mayor Barry Longland said the Tweed Shire Council’s budget was not set in stone so it complied with the seven-year plan.
FLEXIBLE BUDGET: Mayor Barry Longland said the Tweed Shire Council’s budget was not set in stone so it complied with the seven-year plan.

There's rates talk in ranks

A RATES increase of more than 7% is not a foregone conclusion in the next budget, Tweed Shire Council mayor Barry Longland said.

Cr Longland responded to Cr Warren Polglase's claim that council was looking at a 7.5% rise in rates to maintain services.

"What Warren was referring to was the rates increase as stated in the seven-year plan," Cr Longland said.

"That doesn't mean we don't have debate when we have the budget to consider.

"The seven-year plan looks at infrastructure and service, and yes there is that figure in the seven-year plan."

Cr Longland said despite the rates schedule, the seven-year plan was not set in stone.

"Not at all," he said.

"There have been cost blowouts on some projects, but by and large the plan has been delivered."

In its final year, the plan was aimed at pushing development and maintenance of infrastructure in the region. Part of that seven-year plan included a schedule of rate rises, and for the past six years the council has not deviated from the plan.

Cr Longland said the debate centred on what services were needed and what was affordable for ratepayers.

"We will have a range of priorities and the cost to ratepayers will be a major consideration," he said.

He said costs did go up and rates would have to rise to offer the same services that the community expected.

Speaking before the Tweed District Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday morning, Cr Polglase said the council had already begun its budgeting process for 2012/13.

"We looking at about a 7.5% rates increase to maintain the services we provide," Cr Polglase said.

He said annual rates increases could return to between 3% and 4% by 2013/14.

NOT SET IN STONE

A 7.5% rates increase was not a forgone conclusion in the next council budget.



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