State rejects rate rise

Casino ratepayers have welcomed a state government decision to limit the number of rates rises proposed by Richmond Valley Council.

The government this week approved Councils bid for a 7.5 per cent rate increase next financial year (2008/09) but rejected further similar hikes for the following three years.

The increase is to be used on urban stormwater drainage, improvements to sporting grounds, parks and gardens and road maintenance and construction.

Last year, in an unsuccessful bid to increase its low rate base, Council applied to the government for approval to increase rates above the pegged limit for five successive years, applying for a 10.6 per cent rise in the first yearfollowed by successive increases of 7.5 per cent a year.

The funds were sought to fund infrastructure as well as community projects including a swimming pool complex for Evans Head and a community centre for Casino.

Casino Ratepayers and Residents Association president Owen Crawford described the knock back of further rates rises as a victory for the people.

If the rates had to rise then we wanted the money spent on infrastructure and roads and the state government has listened to our concerns, he said.

But Mr Crawford said that during the recent election campaign, the federal government promised $5 million for the pool complex and community centre projects and therefore subsequent rises were not warranted.

Why should (mayor) Charlie (Cox) double dip off us as well as the federal government? he said.

Mayor Charlie Cox said Council had been looking for aguarantee of rates rises for four years but the state government wanted a 10-year financial plan before agreeing to the four-year bid.

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