Lismore residents Carmilla and Kris Hoggan are upset over rising council rates and charges.
Lismore residents Carmilla and Kris Hoggan are upset over rising council rates and charges. Jerad Williams

Hard times ahead for families

CARMILLA Hoggan says raising a young family is never easy and is concerned it’s about to get a lot harder with councils across the Northern Rivers proposing to increase rates and charges in the next financial year.

Already burdened by the soaring cost of living and ever-present threat of higher interest rates, household budgets will again be squeezed with councils proposing increases in rates, fees and charges of between 6.99% in Lismore and 10.85% in Ballina.

“I don’t see the necessity of it,” said Mrs Hoggan, of Caniaba.

“I don’t think councils do enough to warrant it. We’ve still got horrible roads, so I would like to know where the rates are going.

“We have two houses – one in Caniaba and the other in Casino – so it’s going to be two additional costs. Because we run a small business we can’t really budget, so it’s going to hurt.”

A Richmond Valley Council spokesman confirmed it had applied for a special rate variation of up to 3.2% over the expected State Government imposed cap of 2.8%.

He said while some fees and charges were proposed to rise this year, others would fall. He could not provide a combined percentage figure for the changes.

Byron Shire Council is also proposing a 7.8% increase in rates, fees and charges compared with last year, including an application for a 2.45% special rate variation.

Speaking at a Lismore Council budget workshop on Wednesday night, the council’s finance manager, Rino Santin, said the increase in water, waste and wastewater charges predominately reflected increased costs imposed by the State Government, as well as increased operating and service delivery costs.

In an attempt to reduce the amount of waste going into landfill, the State Government has increased landfill charges by 110% next financial year.

The proposed rises, which are now on public exhibition for comment, follow significant rises for the current financial year.

The figures do not include the proposed increases in fees for council-owned facilities, such as swimming pools.

Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell said her council had decided not to apply for a special rate variation, even though the budget was tight.

“Every council in Australia is doing it tough,” she said. “There is no council that has as much money as they wish for their roads and councils are having to look at commercial activities to supplement their incomes.”

ON THE WAY UP

Rates and charges for next financial year

Ballina Shire Council – up 10.85% **

Byron Shire Council – up 7.8%*

Lismore City Council – up 6.99%

Richmond Valley Council – rates up 6%*

* Includes a yet unapproved Special Rate Variation

** Second year of approved SRV



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