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To preserve and enhance the cultural environmental and social sustainability of the Tyagarah Area and its inhabitants

« Rubbish Collection | Main | Walking Track subcommittee »

June 17, 2002

Council rate rise

The following letter, was sent to council. In general supporting a business rate rise, and making support of residential rate rises conditional on better services to Tyagarah.

Robyn Read

General Manager

Byron Shire Council

17 June 2002

COMMENTS REGARDING THE PROPOSED RATE CHANGES

INCORPORATING ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM COMMUNITY

Dear Robyn,

Following are comments regarding the proposed rate changes. Overall, the Progress Association strongly supports a business rates rise. While support for a business rise was clear, this was not the case for a residential rise. There were a number of queries and in some cases strong opposition. If there were no improvements to services delivered to the Tyagarah area, then residents and the association would probably oppose a residential rate rise.

1 Comments on rate rise

From information provided by council, we understand that residential rates will rise by a total of 28% over 4 years. Of this rise 13.9% results from 3.3% rate pegging compounded over 4 years. The balance, 14.1% is a special rate rise to improve ByronÔs rate base.

I have emailed all members of the Progress Association with this information and a copy of the updated Table 15. To date I have received input from 8 members, Colin Grant, Mitra, Isaac Shapiro, Alan Lauer, Robert Bleakley, Ed Szlezak and Kali Shapiro. We have not had responses from all members. While it does not represent the views of all individuals in the progress association, it is serves to give some overall indication of opinion.

2 Summary of Input from Progress Association Members
They found the initial documentation from council did not clearly indicate the rate increases proposed over 4 years, in dollar terms.

2.1 Business increase supported
Residents generally strongly supported a business rate rise

2.2 Residential increase

Support for this was not universal. Some conditionally supported the increase, others opposed.
Some were very concerned about affordability.
Those supporting a modest residential rate increase, did so on the basis that there is a direct link between increased rates and improved services.
Residents asked whether there might be any benefits to the local area resulting from the residential rate rise.
Those opposing felt that, after many years experience, previous rate rises have never resulted in any change to services delivered to our local area.
Those opposing questioned the use of other higher rates as a justification for increasing residential rates. They felt that this was not, of itself, an objective reason to increase rates.

2.3 Local Improvements Requested
A number felt that Grays Lane needed improving in ways to be discussed
Some provision for pedestrians and cyclist including children on Grays Lane. This dirt road is used by children to get to the bus stop on the highway and by cyclists and pedestrians. It has a 100km/h limit and not suitable or safe for use by cyclists and pedestrians.

A copy a submission by Mr Ed SzezakÔs of Tyagarah Progress Association is attached outlining his reasons for not supporting the residential increase.

2.4 Concern regarding special increase being additional to valuations related rate rises

Many Tyagarah locals have experienced 80% rises in rates due to valuation changes from 1997 to 2000, which naturally creates some concern about ability to pay additional increases, particularly if there are additional valuation related increases in the pipelines, which we are yet to receive. This means the total rate increase over recent years 80% plus those planned 28% totalling 108% plus any due to valuation increases since 2000. Since property prices have increased dramatically since 2000, we expect that there are quite substantial valuation related changes in the pipeline which we are yet to receive. If those valuations increases from 2002 to present and present to 2006 were for example 60%, then the total increase from 1997 to 2006 would amount to 168% for many Tyagarah residents. While valuation related changes to rates may be unavoidable, when coupled with the proposed special rates increase, they may combine to create overall rate rises for some families which are unaffordable. So do you have any information on valuation related increases from 2000 to date which may be expected over and above the 28% increase proposed by council ?

2.1 Tyagarah Management Plan/Settlement Strategy

Our area is not covered by an up to date settlement strategy adopted and applied by council in planning decisions. We feel that we have been omitted from this process which has occurred in other areas recently and that our area would benefit from having a planning document specific to our area. We are seeking financial support of council to have this study undertaken, so that we can be assured that our areas future is planned and there is a locality specific planning instrument which applies to our area.

3 Queries

Regarding valuations and rates.

Is it true that if all properties in the shire increase equally in value by 50% over a period, that the rates assessment for individual properties will remain constant ? Put another way, do increasing property values generate increased rate revenue for council. Could this please be forwarded to CouncilÔs Manager, Financial Services, Jim Bolger ?

4 Ways of improving communication in future

We feel that to obtain community input, an up to date document spelling out the changes in a form which enabled informed community input would have assisted the process.

We feel that the letter to progress associations mentioning 9c/day contained insufficient information about the actual rise in $ terms. For example, no rate payer could refer to this document and calculate the actual change in their annual rates bill.

The Rates Recovery Strategy while detailed was out of date. Although we were aware of the changes detailed in the covering letter to progress associations, which referred to the change from 10% to 5%, we did not find it not easy, or appropriate, for residents to wade through the tables in the rates recovery strategy and recalculate the values to work out what the impact on them might be.

As a way of improving communication and using council and Progress Association members time efficiently, we would suggest the cover letter could have contained two tables :

1 An up to date copy of ╩Table 15, as sent to us on June 11, 2002 :-

Table Fifteen ÷ Average Rate Movement after Four Years

Category

2001/02 ╩╩╩╩╩╩╩ ($)

2005/06 ╩╩╩╩╩╩ ($)

Increase ╩╩╩╩ ($)

Increase ╩╩╩╩ (%)

Business ÷ B.B. Business Centre

2,366

5,505

3,139

133

Business ÷ Other

828

1,449

621

75

Residential

494

633

139

28

Residential ÷ Flood

188

241

53

28

Residential ÷ Licenses

59

76

17

28

Conservation Agreements

11

14

3

28

Farmland

810

1,037

227

28

Farmland - Flood

194

248

54

28

Total

561

772

347

62

2. To enhance the ability of individual rate payer to understand the direct financial impact on them, a simple table showing examples for residential rates would help :-

Current rates

After 4 years

Increase

Increase

$494 (Average)

$633

$139

28%

$800

$1024

$224

28%

$1000

$1280

$280

28%

As an aside, the Total row in the updated Table 15 was the same as in the original rates recovery strategy document, eg although the % increase for different rate categories was updated the % increase in the total row remained unchanged in the updated document (Spreadsheet commands ?).

These comments regarding communication are put forward not as criticism but as suggestions for how council and the community can interact efficiently and beneficially.

Thankyou for the opportunity to comment on the proposed rates changes.

Yours sincerely,

Joel Fleming

Vice President

Tyagarah Sustainable Community Alliance

Tyagarah Progress Association

39 Prestons Lane

Tyagarah, NSW

Australia 2481

Ph ╩02 6684 7002

Fax 02 6684 7002

Mobile 0408 462 916


Email from Mr Ed Szlezak

Bukleys Rd.,

Tyagarah

Hi Joel,

My apologies for not getting this to you sooner. I offer this as my thoughts which I strongly believe reflect the views of many of our Tyagarah residents.......

RE RATE RISES PROPOSED.

As a resident and rate payer of near 10 years, I do not support the rate rises for the following reasons:

1. Councils approach that Byron residents are charged lower rates than many other Councils is no justification for a rate increase. One could also argue that perhaps the other Councils who are charging higher rates may be overcharging and should follow Byron Councils strategy of offering rates that are "affordable" to the average worker and retirees who make up most of the shire.

2. Despite past rate increases, as a resident of near 10 years, the rate increases historically have not offered any noticeable improvement to services to the residence of Tyagarah East. Simply, rates have gone up but locally, nothing has changed .

3. Although it is viewed that an increase in rates is necessary to keep up with inflation, the reality is that wages for the average wage earner and Pensions received by a percentage of our residents in East Tyagarah / Tyagarah DO NOT increase enough to cover the cost of the annual rate increase resulting in additional hardship.

4. MOST IMPORTANT.. Many Tyagarah residents being rate payers are still "hurting" from the well known former Byron Shire Council Management decisions which put a financially healthy Shire into debt that amounted to bankruptcy if the Council was a private firm. Urgent major restructuring of Council had proceeded so that payments could be made on Councils loans. The restructuring resulted in loss of many services to residents. These effects are still evident today. Increasing rates would be viewed by ratepayers as a penalty imposed on residents, despite the residents having not played a part in Councils historic financial downfall.

SUMMARY

A rate increase may assist Council internally with its finances, but historically, rates increases over the past 10 years has providing no improvements to Tyagarah residents. A rate increase should not be justified based on other Councils who charge higher rates, rate charges of which may we suggest be unreasonably high for the average worker and pensioner. A rate increase as suggested will create severe additional financial hardship on many of our residents who are already struggling on low wages or who very clearly are struggling on their age or other pensions. The rate increase is therefore not supported.

Ed Szlezak

Buckleys Rd.

Posted at June 17, 2002 12:00 AM

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