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Councils discuss unrateable land

Mayor James Hayes.

At the NSW Country Mayors Association AGM, Snowy Valleys Mayor James Hayes had a productive meeting with other mayors of councils with large swathes of unrateable land, he said.

Sixty-four per cent of the former Tumut shire is unrateable, due to the fact that Forestry Corporation and the National Parks and Wildlife Service do not have to pay council rates under NSW law.

Clr Hayes said there are many councils who want to see Forestry Corporation, in particular, pay rates, as it is now a private, profit-making enterprise.

“I had a meeting with some of the affected councils regarding forestry – Shoalhaven, Bombala, Armidale, and Oberon – like-minded councils that have significant areas of unrateable land,” he said.

“Forestry is a commercial operation, the same as farming. And certainly they contribute to the community through roads and bushfire prevention and that sort of thing as well, but we need to reach a compromise. It’s an impost on the remaining ratepayers.

“Farmers and graziers [who do have to pay rates] contribute as well!”

The NSW Country Mayors Association AGM, held at Parliament House, Sydney, last Friday, was attended by 82 Mayors and General Managers from rural and regional NSW.

Mayor of Moree Plains, Clr Katrina Humphries, was re-elected to the Chairman’s role, and guest speakers included the NSW Deputy Premier, the Hon. John Barilaro MP; the Roads and Freight Minister, the Hon. Melinda Pavey MP; the NSW Auditor-General, Mrs Margaret Crawford; the new SES Commissioner, Mark Smethurst; and the newly-elected State MP for Gundagai-Cootamundra, Steph Cooke.