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Rates vote sets city up for next 20 years: mayor

By GRAEMESINGLETON

"THE biggest decision that this council will make during its four and a half year term."

With those words Coffs Harbour City Mayor, Councillor Keith Rhoades, implored his colleagues to pass the motion to seek a 21.35 per cent rate rise from Local Government Minister Tony Kelly at Thursday night's council meeting.

"If it is granted it will set Coffs Harbour up for the next 20 years," he said.

"If it isn't it will set us back 10 to 15 years."

The motion was passed by all councillors bar Cr Gavin Smithers, who expressed concerns about the affordability of the ambitious $86-million City Facilities plan, its impact on retired ratepayers and environmental aspects of its implementation.

Earlier Cr Rod McKelvey sought, and was given, assurances that the extension of Hogbin Drive would be constructed as environmentally sensitive as possible to avoid vegetation loss and flooding along Coffs Creek.

Cr Ian Hogbin described the community consultation about the plan as the most extensive ever undertaken in the city.

As a result of concerns aired by farmers during the consultation process he indicated he will push for a resolution of the city's Rural Strategy by June next year.

Cr Hogbin systematically addressed all the other concerns raised during the consultation process and said that any pensioners who feared not being able to afford the rate increase should investigate options to realise their retirement assets.

Council's application for a 21.35 per cent rate rise is now before the Local Government Minister.

A decision from the minister is expected within the next fortnight.



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