ORANGE residents paid an average of $1072.86 per year for their rates in 2011/12, almost 25 per cent or $263 more than their Bathurst neighbours paying $810.07 and 16 per cent or $173 more than ratepayers in Dubbo paying $900.03.
But Orange ratepayers get value for money with the extra costs bringing better facilities and services, according to Orange mayor John Davis, who believes the rates of Orange’s neighbours are edging closer.
“With a lot of community services, even our parks and gardens, we’re used to having things that are not just average, they’re better than average,” he said.
“We have a number of things in the community that not everyone uses, but it makes it better for the community in total.”
Orange residents paid an average of $236 more in residential rates compared to the $836.70 average for similarly sized councils, the latest comparative information of the state’s 152 councils reveals.
But Cr Davis said Orange spends about twice as much on community services and the civic precinct, built in the 1980s, helped attract medical professionals to the area resulting in the enviable Orange Health Service, while Orange’s neighbours had only recently caught up.
He defended council’s decision to increase rates by the highest amount allowed each year, saying it had kept Orange in a good financial position, while other smaller councils were considering special rate hikes as high as 15 per cent each year for 15 years to be financially sustainable while the possibility of amalgamation loomed.
Cr Davis said the state and federal governments could see council’s decision to keep rates stagnant as “mismanagement”, discouraging future grants.
Farmland rates bucked the trend, with Dubbo charging an average of $2646.34, overtaking Orange’s $1574.07 average by 41 per cent, and more than doubling Bathurst’s $1298.87 average.
Orange’s businesses only paid an average of $13.19 more each year, $4970.28, compared to their Dubbo counterparts paying $4957.09.
But Bathurst still trails behind, with businesses only paying $3840.80 on average, $1129.48 less than Orange.