TOP CITY: TOP DOLLAR

ALBURY businesses pay the highest general rates out of a group of 30 similar councils in NSW.

And Albury homes receive the second-highest residential rate bills, the NSW Office of Local Government reports.

But mayor Kevin Mack said the high general rate (excluding water, sewerage and garbage fees) reflected the services and high value of property, particularly in central Albury — in short, you get what you pay for.

Water and sewerage bills were comparatively lower, however, so Albury’s total take was lower than other councils, he said.

The comparative data is for NSW for the 2012-13 rates adopted by councils two years ago.

Albury falls in a group of 30 “regional towns” that includes Wagga, Griffith, Dubbo, Orange, Broken Hill, Byron Bay, Ballina and smaller regions like Deniliquin.

The figures show that, in 2012-13, Albury’s business owners paid an average $5225.55 in general rates, compared with the group average of $3168.

Residents paid an average $1091.29 in residential rates compared with the group average of $878.05, making it second to Kiama with $1223.10.

But with water and sewerage bills of about $833 — compared with the group average of $1188 — Albury ratepayers forked out an average $1925 overall.

That brings the city back down to well below average.

Byron Bay residents paid the most for their beach lifestyle, with overall rates of $2520.77, while Bega Valley residents paid second highest with $2409.

An average water and sewerage rate for businesses across the state was not available for comparison.

In NSW general rates are based on land valuations determined by the state’s Valuer-General, but in Victoria they are based on the land and buildings.

Cr Mack said Albury’s land, infrastructure and services were valued at a much higher level than other similar-sized cities in NSW.

“What we offer is quite significantly better,” he said.

“The size of the city, plus with the businesses already here... we punch above our weight in terms of what we offer.”

Cr Mack believed the statewide data reflected the attractiveness of the Albury region as a whole.

“It’s a lifestyle choice too,” he said.

“Where would you rather live — Albury or Dubbo?”

This year, Albury residential rates for the average household will be $1202, an increase of $24.27 from last financial year — and a little relief after three successive above-average rate rises.

Ratepayers will also pay an extra $145 in combined rates and charges.

Cr Mack said the council was mindful of its spending and aimed to be consistent in the quality for services provided.

“But value for money is just one part of it, we’re also looking to save and spend money wisely,” he said.

The report also shows that Corowa Council residents were paying an average combined rates bill of $1529, below its group average of $1821.

Corowa ratepayers will from this year be slugged with four consecutive 7 per cent rate rises.

Greater Hume still has low rates, but they might be raised next year.

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