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Bid to use mining rates for infrastructure only

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A mining body recently called on significant changes to the Local Government Act rating system that would allow councils to have mine rates as supplementary rather than as part of the general pool.

Now, Broken Hill City Council is pondering charging mining rates separately from regular rates.

The idea was proposed by the Blayney Shire Council at last week’s meeting of the Association of Mining-Related Councils.

Director of Environmental Services with the Liverpool Plains Shire Council Ron Van Katwyk said counting rates related to gas exploration and extraction as supplementary will prevent any effect on each local government area’s base rate.

He contended this would benefit residents and landholders.

Under the system, mining rates would be spent on infrastructure instead of being spent by councils for ongoing costs, the ABC reported.

One person on board with the idea is Broken Hill councillor Jim Nolan, who is on the association’s executive.

“Anything that improves the town for the people of the town is a good thing and anything that the town and the mines can see eye-to-eye, even better,” Nolan said.

“However, council doesn’t have a position on it yet. We’ve just been through an extremely difficult time where townsfolk and business have taken up a bigger proportion of the rates.”

He added the supplementary rates proposal would need modifications to legislation.

“The whole point was: how do you solve the problem when a mine pulls out?” he said.

“You’ve got a big hole in the ground and a big hole in the budget that then gets picked up by the townsfolk.

“So that’s why Broken Hill City Council doesn’t have a position on it at this point and it really is a matter for discussion with the State Government.”

The Supreme Court will examine the Valuer-General’s appeal against mining company Perilya’s lower rates valuation next Tuesday.

The 75 per cent slashing of land value of the company’s mines meant Broken Hill City Council was left with a rates loss of $6.8 million.

Perilya recently sacked 17 employees from its Brokem Hill operations on the back of tough economic conditions.

The Council decreased the rates paid by two local mining companies from 26 per cent to 20 per cent of the total last month.

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