I’d like to put forward some questions to council and our state and federal members representing the Clarence Valley and voice my views regarding our 8% rate rise over a 4 year period. I’m just a dumb rate payer that can’t fathom what’s going on. But here goes:
1. Why are, we as ratepayers responsible, for the upkeep of 983km or roads and 283 bridges and to maintain 378km of regional roads. Doesn’t the State or Federal government have responsibility for this infrastructure? And if not why not one would think this situation would be based on a user pay system the more kilometres you drive the more you pay for road infrastructure maintenance and the fact it’s not only Clarence valley residents using this infrastructure. What are our federal fuel taxes and our state vehicle taxes for if not to fix roads?
2. If either government passes the buck and doesn’t accept their rightful responsibility to pay CVC for the up keep and maintain of these roads and bridges (which they will if we let them) it needs to be on a user pays system. At a rough estimate Council are asking 70% of the rate payers to pay a far greater amount for what 30% of the rural residents use. Take me for example, as a ratepayer of Grafton CVC asking us to pay 8% extra increase on my rates of $ 3011.16 over 4 years which equates to $241.00, $260.16, $280.96 and $303.43 over the 4 year period this equates to $1085.55, paying for the roads and bridges maintenance that I may or may not use. Yet, people that live on acres non-residential properties out of town, e.g. Nymboida 40.2km Coutts Crossing 22km from Grafton, pay around $800 a year in rates which equates to $64.00 $69.12 $74.64 $80.62 = $288.38. They travel these distances and go over numerous bridges regularly, which Council states they are responsible to maintain as stated in their Roads to Sustainability leaflet. The areas mentioned are examples; however this is relevant to most rural areas and properties in the Clarence Valley. (This is a perfect example of why the funding for such works shouldn’t be a local government responsibility)
Clarence Valley Councillors we’ve chosen you to represent us, the people, not the federal or state government. Get off your back sides and fight for us, the people that voted for you that put you in your position of trust. Tell our State and Federal members to sort out this unfair burden on our local government, take it to their respective parliaments or departments and let them know that here in the Clarence Valley we’re not going to accept this burden on our rates. Get the $240,000 a year, General Manager and the managers of other departments to earn their keep and think outside the square. Come up with more alternatives, than the ones you have put on the table, sort out the situation and stop taking the easy way out.
Putting up the rates isn’t the answer, it will burden not only the rate payers but all the residents and also damage to our fragile local economy. Will this, move or stimulate the growth of our area or help our property values? Now cutting the services to the residents’ and visitors and selling off our assets are alternatives that should be investigated however along with other matters as the cost of consultancy and legal fees. Also what it costs to manage and administer our council compared to others on the north coast but not before our Councillors along with our general manager fight tooth and nail with our state and federal members (make our local members represent us the people like they should be doing) to find alternative funding for this problem that doesn’t belong to Clarence valley residents or business.
Lynda Smith, Grafton