Letters

Rate increase and significant reduction in services

Ed,
This is what the Clarence Valley Council (CVC) is proposing to IPART and the NSW State Government and this is almost certainly what will happen, no matter what the result in the upcoming Council survey.
IPART is the so called independent body delegated by the NSW State Government Minister for Local Government (The Honourable Paul Toole MP) to decide upon pricing for a range of Government services including Council Rates. IPART have been of late rubber stamping these so called “Special Rate Increases” for a significant number of NSW Councils, and I see no evidence so far to suggest that IPART will refuse CVC’s proposed 8% increase for the next 5 years. Based on this, it is more likely than not that our rates will increase by around 50% over the next 5 to 6 years.
So what do we get for this increase ?
Well, as the CVC in their submission to IPART says, they cannot meet their financial commitments even with this massive rate increase, so the CVC is also proposing widespread reduction in services as well as the massive council rate increase. So the answer is that there are no demonstrable benefits to the average ratepayer in the CVC’s proposal to IPART. The CVC says the problem is that maintenance of rural roads and bridges costs more than the Council’s income (not the Pacific and other main highways which are Federally funded). Will we notice any improvement in roads? Council is reducing road speed limits not increasing them. I doubt I will notice any difference in Yamba with its blanket 50km/hr speed limit. Even after recent road works on Yamba road west of Yamba the Council still agreed to reduce speed limits recently on this road.
State and Federal grants are insufficient to meet the Council’s road funding shortfall. So CVC ratepayers are being asked to stump up and pay. The State Government not only seems quite content to let this happen, they have in a large part precipitated this situation by compelling councils to comply with their “Fit for Future” financial benchmarks, while at the same time happily allowing Councils to increase rates through their own so called independent IPART. I did not see any suggestions by the CVC in their proposal to IPART to improve their internal efficiency. Does this suggest the CVC feels there is no room for improvement within the Council in the way it spends our money ?
I contacted all of the CVC Councillors by email and the one shining light was Councillor Andrew Baker, who empathised with my concerns and agreed with the need for Council to operate within its budget. Thank you Andrew.
Surely the role of a Councillor is to “make decisions that help people within the local community”. I do not believe the proposal by the CVC to IPART will “help the people of the Clarence Valley” nor is it in the interests of Australians in general at this time to increase taxes and thereby reduce productivity. This plan is counterproductive to the needs of this community and our country.
I urge CVC ratepayers to remember what is being done to you at the next Council election later next year and at the next NSW State Election.
Robert Finch, Yamba

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