Convey your opinion

Ed, Never before in the history of Local Government in the Clarence Valley has a council endeavoured to mislead and manipulate its ratepayers in the manner the Clarence Valley Council (CVC) is doing with its current campaign to inflict a 37 percent general rate increase on this community. CVC has recently conducted a very expensive survey of local ratepayers and their absolute and only motive in doing this is to create an illusion that they are genuinely consulting with their community so that they can make this claim when they place their formal application for the rate increase with the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART). The CVC survey is just window dressing, just a smoke screen….it is no more than a cynical exercise designed to deliver to the council their real goal of massively more money from ratepayers. When I spoke to senior CVC staff at an information session in the main street of Maclean last week they admitted that the survey was “statistically invalid”, that results could not and would not be statistically analysed and submitted to IPART. Their only justification was that Councillors had requested the survey because they had to convince IPART that CVC had consulted the local people. They do not care that the methodology, the content, the backgrounding, the targeting of the survey is as much value as a three dollar banknote….it’s only a means to an end. Council staff advised that the only statistical information of feedback from the community that CVC will furnish to IPART will be a telephone survey from just 500 calls (out of a population of more than 50,000)….Incredibly, only people who claim to have read the CVC brochure supplied as part of the CVC survey will be permitted to complete and be included in the telephone survey for statistical analysis and transmission to IPART. CVC hope that the local people finally included in the IRIS Research telephone survey will be influenced by claims the General Manager made as part of the council survey that the at increase to CVC rates will be equivalent to a cup of coffee a fortnight or that council staff pay rates too (failing to mention the CVC staff responsible for this campaign earn more than $200,000 per year). In his survey support documentation the General Manager even calculates the potential general rate increase across all items included in an annual rates notice – which includes utility service charges such as garbage, sewer and water. Unfortunately he fails to advise that these utility service charges are not controlled by any rate-pegging limits and rise annually at the discretion of elected councillors. There will be a council election next year and he doesn’t even know who will be elected…..yet he speaks on their behalf. CVC hopes that local people don’t care that they have not been given any background at all on the list of CVC services that the council has listed as ‘discretionary services’ in their survey including items such as “Community care services not funded by other levels of government” when such local services not funded by “other” forms of government are fully funded by the local users of these services. Why do they intend to cut a service that costs them nothing? There are so many holes in this council’s campaign to rip the financial heart out of its ratepayers that it would take pages to list them all. The most important thing to note is that if you are a local ratepayer or citizen who opposes the CVC rates increase proposal you cannot trust this council to convey your opinion to IPART. If you sit back and do nothing local rates will go through the roof and so will local house rents. Every single person, every concerned community group must communicate their opinion direct to IPART. The only way to fight this deception is by people power. The closing date for public submissions is March 14th. The details are as follows:- Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) 1 Market Street, Sydney NSW 2000 Email: localgovernment@ipart.nsw.gov.au Website: www.ipart.nsw.gov.au Bill Day, Yamba