Locals to have say on environment levy for Kempsey Shire Council

ENVIRONMENT: the environmental levy has funded projects such as the
Boyters Lane wetlands rejuvenation.
ENVIRONMENT: the environmental levy has funded projects such as the Boyters Lane wetlands rejuvenation.

In the last 15 years, much of Kempsey Shire Council’s work to manage, protect and preserve the waterways and natural environment has been funded through a special levy. That levy is due to expire this financial year and Council are seeking feedback from the community on options for the future.

Initially in place for five years from the 2003-2004 financial year, and then extended for a further 10 years until June 2018, the Environmental Levy has funded projects such as water quality monitoring in the Macleay River; the Boyters Lane wetlands rejuvenation and walkway; coastal dune restoration; Killick Creek coastal management; weed control programs and floodplain management.

Council’s acting general manager, Daryl Hagger, said the levy has allowed for proactive and measurable environmental management.

“By having the levy in place, we estimate that Council has been able to attract an additional $1.2 million in environmental funding from other levels of Government,” Mr Hagger said.

“Many of the projects that have been delivered have been in partnership with community groups such as Landcare and Dunecare, which adds a significant social value beyond the funding.”

The environmental levy is around $53 a year in the average household rates. If it was continued, the levy would generate just over $800,000 next financial year allocated specifically to environmental projects, with the Lower Macleay Flood Study and Plan estimated to cost around $250,000 of the fund.

Other future projects that could be funded by the levy include flood levee upgrades at Hat Head and Eden Street, beach access improvement at South West Rocks and carrying out the actions from the Macleay River Eco Health Report Card.

Council is considering making an application to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) for approval to extend the levy for a further 10 years.

The community are invited to learn more about the environment levy and have their say on the future of the environmental levy by completing the survey available at council’s customer service centre or online at: http://yoursay.macleay.nsw.gov.au/enviro

Staff will also be available to provide more information at the Kempsey Riverside Twilight Markets on Saturday December 2. Submissions close on 13 December, 2017.