RATEPAYERS will foot a bill of more than $166,000 next year if Orange City councillors agree to slash pensioner rates by 10 per cent.
Under a state government subsidy pensioners receive an annual $250 rebate on their ordinary rates and waste service charge, $87.50 on water rates and $87.50 on sewerage rates.
If councillors decide to reintroduce the additional 10 per cent discount for the 884 eligible rate assessments, pensioners will save on average $188 next year.
Orange Ratepayers Association president Brian Wood welcomed the move initiated by Cr Glenn Taylor as part of the council’s budget process, but questioned why the discount was dropped in 2006.
“Anything to save ratepayers in this high rate area.... and to make it easier for low income earners,” he said.
“Orange is an area that is fast becoming a retired area.”
Despite his support for the move Mr Wood said he was concerned the council would look to recoup the costs of the scheme elsewhere, potentially slogging ineligible ratepayers with higher water costs.
“It would be the ratepayer receiving and paying for it,” he said.
“It would be a double whammy really, they’re paying for their own subsidy.”
Cr Taylor said if his fellow councillors did not back his move to reintroduce the scheme he would keep fighting for the discount if re-elected.
“It’s there to help people especially older members of the community,” he said.
“It costs us money but it helps people on low or fixed incomes.
“Times have got tougher and we can help ease the burden a little bit.”
Cr Taylor said the $166,000 cost for the scheme would come from council’s general revenue and was affordable for the council’s $110 million budget.
“We seem to find a lot of money for a lot of other things,” he said.
“I could name a lot of other programs we could have cut before we cut [the pensioner discount].”
Councillors will make a decision about the pensioner discount at the August 2 meeting.