Kiama and Wollongong councils rolling in rates

Kiama residents pay some of the state’s highest rates, while Wollongong  businesses are charged nearly double the average rates in similar areas, according to a NSW government report.

Minister for Local Government Paul Toole this week released the 2012-13 report cards showing the performance of the state’s 152 councils.

To allow fair comparison, the councils are divided into 11 categories, with Shellharbour and Kiama compared with places like Albury, Port Stephens and Queanbeyan.

Wollongong is grouped with Tweed, Port Macquarie, Newcastle, Shoalhaven and Maitland.

Statewide, the figures show Hunters Hill Council had the highest average residential rates at $1379, while Brewarrina Shire Council had the lowest at $151.

Kiama residents pay an average of $1223, just $156 below Hunters Hill and $345 above that of comparable councils.

Shellharbour’s average residential rates were $979, while Wollongong’s were $1077.

When it came to business rates in 2012-13 the City of Sydney had the highest average at $10,403, but Wollongong was not far behind – with average business rates of $9175.

This was almost double the average of similar councils, and well above Shellharbour and Kiama’s business rates at $3535 and $1806 respectively.

According to a council spokesman, Wollongong’s business rates were high because a significant number of large manufacturing, mining or heavy industrial businesses skewed the average.

For instance, he said Wollongong had 344 ‘‘Heavy Industrial’’ businesses paying average rates of $15,175 and 40 ‘‘Heavy 1 Activity 1’’ businesses paying average rates of $202,832.

Other categories measured on the report cards included the councils’ expenditure on different services and assets, population growth and finances.

For the first time data on community leadership was included, with information about the number of code of conduct complaints.

The three Illawarra councils performed well in this area, with all recording less code of conduct complaints than their group average and no investigated complaints requiring action.

North Sydney Council had the highest number of code of conduct complaints, at 26.

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