Councillors "flying blind" on controversial environment levy

LISMORE councillors are "flying blind" on the controversial biodiversity levy and need more detailed information before they can make a decision, a councillor has said.

Graham Meineke led a rescission motion on the levy, which was backed by Neil Marks, and Matt Scheibel, after the council narrowly voted to go ahead with it.

The rescission motion puts the levy, which is intended to fund the council's Biodiversity Management Strategy, in temporary limbo until it can be voted on again.

Cr Meineke said the council's analysis of some 900 submissions over the rate hike was inadequate and councillors were "flying blind" over the rate hike because it lacked key information.

"I expected a report to say of the total submissions we got, a certain number were (Lismore area) locals, non-locals, ratepayers, or tenants," Cr Meineke said.

"There was no such information.

"Something as serious as this warrants an examination of all the submissions and their place of residence."

Cr Meineke said that information would be critical to whether the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) would approve the rate rise.

"IPART are going to want to know whether the citizens of Lismore support it or not," he said.

A debate on the rescission motion has been tentatively scheduled for an extraordinary meeting on May 5.

If the rate rise is approved, it would start July 1 2016.

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell, who voted for the rate rise, said her support for the BMS was about "leadership".

"This council has an opportunity to do something significant for a our very special environment and I don't want that opportunity to pass.

"I believe it is affordable albeit I know that people don't like more rates."

Topics:  lismore city council rates hike

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