A plan to increase rates by almost 80 per cent over two years was unanimously rejected, at least for now, by Tenterfield's new council on Monday.
At an extraordinary meeting the council had to consider a recommendation to dramatically increase rates for the 2022-23 financial year, as well as 2023-24, as the council faces an annual budget shortfall of $3.8m.
Instead an amendment from deputy mayor John Macnish to hold off for 2022-23, and ask its CEO for options for 2023-34, which will look at what council services are impacted by not getting the increased revenue, was unanimously supported.
Mayor Bronwyn Petrie said the delay to last year's council election, from September to December, meant the new council was dealing with the matter only weeks after being sworn in.
Councillor workshops were held on January 19 and February 2 to bring the councillors up to speed on the state of the coming years' budgets.
Cr Petrie said the council was playing catch-up when it came to maintaining roads, as natural disasters had caused damage in recent years. And roads would suffer the biggest impact of cost-cutting to services.
"Obviously there's other efficiencies that can be found. The chief executive has put a moratorium on some staff vacancy replacements, so that's additional savings in the interim.
"One of the other things we're looking at is amalgamating the visitors information centre with the School of Arts. If that is approved as one of the ways forward then that opens up the potential to then lease that visitors information centre."
Cr Petrie also said the cost of Bruxner Highway and Mt Lindesay Road, which they hope the state government would take back ownership of, was also hurting the council's finances.
"Those two roads alone put $1.2 million on our depreciation books."
The council is restricted to increasing next year's rates by 0.7 per cent and would have had to apply for a special rate variation to increase it by a higher amount.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.