The meeting is 'virtual' with councillors using videoconferencing from remote locations and live-streaming the meeting as it is closed physically to the public as a coronavirus safety measures.
The meeting is 'virtual' with councillors using videoconferencing from remote locations and live-streaming the meeting as it is closed physically to the public as a coronavirus safety measures. Jessica Lamb

ROLLING COVERAGE: Tweed councillors reach rate decision

5.01PM:

THE amended recommendations to the Water Sharing Plan passed four votes to three.

Councillors Warren Polglase, Pryce Allsop and James Owen voted against.

The extraordinary meeting has ended.

4.40PM:

Cr PRYCE Allsop expressed frustrations about Mayor Katie Milne making such large amendments to the motion at the last minute.

He said it was not fair to have to analyse the nine changes and come up with a decision in such a short time when there had been workshops on the subject.

Cr Allsop believed the issues behind the Mayor's changes to the motion should have been discussed in the workshops.

"We should know about these changes prior to the meeting so we can absorb and communicate about them," he said.

"I would like to see the Mayor work better as a team and work better with us on the day of the meeting."

Mayor Milne apologised and said she emailed the proposed changes to councillors at 1.55pm before the 3pm meeting and another change at 2.57pm.

"I don't believe the changes were complex and I have explained them... I do not believe I have veered away from council recommendations to any extend apart from the inclusion of the environmental flows and commercial water extraction points," she said.

Standing orders resumed and councillors entered a heated debate.

For more on this check out the Tweed Daily News website later this week.

4.15PM:

STANDING orders have been suspended to give councillors time to go over the changes to the motion.

3.50PM:

COUNCILLORS are debating amendments to the wording of the recommendations surrounding the 'Review of Water Sharing Plan for the Tweed River Area Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources 2010'.

3.48PM:

THERE will be no interest charged by the Tweed Shire Council for overdue rates and charges this financial year until December 2020.

However the maximum rate of interest payable on overdue rates and charges will be 7 per cent per annum for the period January 1  to June 30 2021.

Council will also make adjustments to the rates in accordance with the Local Government Act 1993.

The motion carried 4 to 2. 

Cr Warren Polglase and James Owen voted against.

3.40PM:

MAYOR Katie Milne said she agreed with Cr Warren Polglase about re-thinking things within council like the proposed rail trail.

"I think the rail trail will be a burden on our community particularly with COVID," she said.

"Council would be in a position to be responsible for maintaining and operating that infrastructure ... with the projections made about the cost analysis it is a fine line about breaking even but I think we should reconsider progress on that front. That is something that could cost this council hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and maybe not provide the benefits we were hoping for ... it might a few years down the track but right now very worried about that project," she said.

Cr Ron Cooper said a rate freeze would only benefit large landholders who didn't need the financial support as much as others, while the COVID measures the council had was better.

Cr Pryce Allsop said he completely disagreed with Mayor Milne about the rail trail and also agreed with Cr Cooper.

Cr Owen referenced his neighbours who both lost their jobs with Virgin.

"Any money would help people in similar situations," he said.

"People are living day-to-day and mouth-to-mouth now more so than ever before and for those reasons I will not support this motion."

General manager Troy Green reminded councillors they were only voting on whether the council would levy rates in 2020/2021 today.

"We are not debating the budget or the percentage rate increase," he said.

Cr Cherry said it was 'beyond her' that anyone would vote against the rates motion because without rates council could not provide any of the services needed, especially given there would be an opportunity to re-access the seven per cent in the future.

3.33PM:

CR WARREN Polglase said he stood by his comments that there should be a complete rate freeze and did not support this motion.

"We should be aware the interest charged on rates goes to 7 per cent in January 2021," he said.

"If you were fair dinkum as a council you would run that through 12 months not just six.

"We are looking to do more with less money and the only way to do this is do our internal processes better."

Cr Polglase said council needed to use a 'mirror' and see how the organisation could cost save and make better processes.

"Not one person was stood down in local government (during COVID) at all, hundreds if not thousands of people in the Tweed now don't have a job... this may be a small amount to some people but large to others," he said.

Mayor Katie Milne said the council could re-visit the issue of the 7 per cent rise on overdue rates fees next year closer to the time.

3.17PM:

THE recommendation about 'Making the Rate for the next financial year was moved by Cr Chris Cherry and seconded by Cr Pryce Allsop.

Cr Cherry said while she recognised COVID-19 had significantly economically impacted the community it was important to understand rates went into paying for services council provided.

"It was important to recognise it is a difficult thing to try and provide all the facilities and infrastructure that the community expects and the rates we pay as rate payers go into fixing those roads and providing the water and waste water treatment and all of the things we come to expect and accept as a given," she said.

"Council has so many roles in the provision of services and I understand it is difficult when increased property valuations increase rates."

"I understand and accept a lot of people are struggling but I am really glad that we have put in place COVID measures to try and make these rates and charges easier for people to pay of if they are financially impacted by COVID."

3.13PM:

THE meeting has begun.

Mayor Katie Milne read the aboriginal statement and general manager Troy Green said a prayer.

There were no disclosures of interest.

3.05PM:

TODAY'S extraordinary Tweed Shire Council meeting is about to begin.

It is the only meeting this month.

The meeting is 'virtual' with councillors using videoconferencing from remote locations and live-streaming the meeting as it is closed physically to the public as a coronavirus safety measures.