TAMWORTH Regional Council's rates are significantly lower than councils of a similar size, and although that's good for the hip pocket of residents, councillors say it makes it difficult to deliver services.
Tamworth's average business rate is $724 lower when compared to a group of 25 similar councils, such as Wagga, Albury, Bathurst, Orange, Dubbo and Ballina.
Residential rates are an average of $83 cheaper. Farmland rates are also significantly cheaper, with a difference of $448.
While the low rates are good for residents, Tamworth mayor Col Murray said council could do more for the community with higher rates.
He pointed out TRC maintained a large number of assets compared to other councils.
"We have 23 town halls, six sewage treatment plants, seven water treatment plants," Cr Murray said.
"When those are overlaid with low rates, it makes for a pretty tight budget.
"It's great to have low rates for the community, but it makes it difficult to provide services with a low revenue. In my view, at some stage in the future, we'll have to balance that up."
Tamworth councillor Russell Webb said council's low rates were a historical problem caused by rate pegging.
"The reason for that is when rate pegging was introduced in 1976, the councils of the then Parry and Tamworth City had fairly low rate bases to begin with," Cr Webb said.
"Which means when we do get a rate increase thought the rate pegging, our rates only increase by a small percentage of that already low starting point.
"If you're comparing apples with apples, Tamworth does have significantly lower rates than many others and it will remain that way for years to come."
Cr Webb said although TRC had "learnt to survive" on low rates, it would be "nice for the community to get the benefit of increased rates".
"While we can be criticised for maybe not doing what some people want, for the money that is available the delivery of service is pretty good," he said.
"We've suffered from the consequences of a lower revenue base and sometime we can't do some of things we would like to do.
"Roads are a classic example, we have a huge local road network to maintain. We can't do all the upgrades and renewals we want to."
Tamworth council looks after almost 3200 kilometres of road, while councils of a similar size average 1400 kilometres.
Cr Murray acknowledged the community was likely to resist any attempt to apply for a special rate variation to put Tamworth in line with other councils.
"There's no special rate variation on the books at this moment," he said.
TRC's average rates compared to similar councils
- Residential rate: $961.67 vs $1044.62
- Business rate: $3027.81 vs $3751.02
- Farmland rate: $1846.74 vs $ 2294.47
- Domestic waste charge: $298.9 vs $324.84