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The bottom line: what will ratepayers pay in 2016/17?

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) approved a one-off 6.5 per cent special rate variation (SRV), including the 1.8 per cent rate peg, however, as a result of future increases to water and sewer charges being capped at 1.5 per cent per annum for the next 10 years and a significant reduction to this year’s water access charge, rises in this year’s total rates and charges bills vary from a reduction of 0.31 per cent to an increase of 2.71%. The 6.5 per cent SRV applies to each rating category’s general rate ad valorem and/or base amount, and is not applied to water, sewer, bins and waste management charges. The 3 bins charge increased from $306 to $310 (1.3%), the waste management charge increased from $48 to $50 (4%). Significantly, increases to each ratepayer’s overall bill were alleviated by a reduction in the access charge for a standard 20mmm water service, which was reduced from $177 to $116 (down 34.5%). However, the charge for water usage has increased from $1.91 to $2.37 per kilolitre (up 24%). Ratepayers’ average water consumption per year is 147 kilolitres, which equates to $348.39. The farmland category will pay an extra $75.41 (up 3.19%) on the overall rates and charges bill, whereas Outside Town Residential areas will enjoy paying $3.85 less than last year (down 0.31%). Coastal Villages will pay an extra $4.06 (up 0.18%); Maclean/Townsend Residential B will pay an extra $20.30 (up 0.8%); Yamba Residential C will pay an extra $26.55 (up 1.03%); Grafton/Junction Hill Residential E will pay an extra $26.37 (up 1.01%); Outside Town Businesses will pay the same as last year; Maclean Business Category B will pay an extra $55.60 (up 2.28%); Iluka Business C will pay an extra $33.08 (up 1.62%); Yamba Business D will pay an extra $68.04 (up 2.6%); Grafton and South Grafton Business E will pay an extra $85.11 (up 2.71%); and, Grafton and South Grafton Business F will pay an extra $34.97 (up 1.53%). Pensioners who receive a rebate will pay a little extra on their bills, as a result of the water charge rebate reduction from $87.50 to $58; however, corporate director Ashley Lindsay said the rebate “extends to water usage charges up to the difference between this and last year’s charges ($29.50)”. In cases where pensioners claim the entire $29.50 against their water usage, pensioners in Outside Town Residential and Coastal Villages areas will pay about $4 less than last year, however, in each of the other categories this applies to, pensioners will pay amounts virtually the same as increases levied on non-pensioners. A full breakdown of how the forthcoming rates and charges bill compares with last year’s can be viewed on the council’s website in the media release titled: Infrastructure projects to benefit from council budget.