A SHORT deadline is the catalyst for Greater Taree City Council's decision to exhibit its proposed delivery program for the environmental levy over the Christmas and New Year period.
Ratepayers have until Thursday, January 9 to review and make submissions on council's draft Delivery Program 2013-2017 and council's revised Long Term Financial Plan 2013/14 - 2022/23. The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal requested council update the delivery program and financial plan as part of the process to seek approval for the introduction of an environmental levy.
The proposed levy of five percent is known as a Special Rate Variation (SRV) and is in addition to the standard rate-pegged amount of 2.3 per cent for 2014/15. The tribunal will determine if the levy can be approved on behalf of the Division of Local Government.
Council is keen to get a green light from the tribunal to introduce the levy as it is regarded as council's only sustainable option for developing environmental strategies.
Its recent community education campaign revealed the weekly cost of the levy to each rating category would be:
o Residential - $0.91.
o Farm - $1.52.
o Business - $3.14.
Council is banking on the levy being an environmental investment strategy that will bring big dollars to the Manning Valley.
According to council's environmental project officer, Andrew Paget, every dollar has the potential to reap an additional $2.80 from state and federal government coffers. That is the experience of Great Lakes Shire Council and the experience our council hopes to replicate.
Council has a list of priority of environmental projects that it would like to fund and views the levy as critical to developing effective partnerships with state and federal government departments such as the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, the Catchment Management Authority, Crown Lands, DPI Fisheries, Roads and Maritime Services, Department of Planning and Infrastructure, NSW Maritime, as well as local industry and community groups.
To secure tribunal approval for the levy council must submit its application by February 24 and part of the process requires a 28-day public exhibition of the delivery program and financial plan.
A council spokesperson defended the decision to exhibit during the Christmas and New Year period saying, "whilst council would not normally exhibit a document over Christmas, the changes to documents are minor and extensive community consultation has already been undertaken on the proposed SRV for an environmental levy. This, combined with the need to exhibit and adopt the revised document prior to February 24 necessitates exhibiting during this period."
The documents are available for public review at council's customer service centre at 2 Pulteney Street, Taree.
For further information contact council on 6592 5399.
Enviro levy project hit list
THE list is long of local projects that could benefit from funds captured from state and federal government grant programs with the introduction of the environmental levy by Greater Taree City Council.
The list includes:
o Acid sulfate soil remediation at Cattai Wetlands and Big Swamp.
o Rehabilitation of coastal floodplain vegetation at Manning River, Lansdowne River and other sites.
o Stabilisation of roadside erosion and landslips.
o Coastal wetland protection.
o Environmental weeds programs.
o Revegetation of cleared wildlife habitat corridors.
o Addressing vandalism of natural reserves.
o Installation of renewable energy systems.
o Water quality, air quality and noise pollution monitoring.
o Soil carbon sequestration research.
o River dredging for navigation.
o Riverbank erosion control.
o Construction of fish cleaning stations.