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Councillor’s 10-year SRV effect

Cr Andrew Baker speaking at the Grafton Regional Gallery last week. Image Chloe van Dorp
The public consultations on Clarence Valley Council’s (CVC) operational plan, budget and long-term plans have been completed – and the time for people to make submissions regarding the proposed special rate variation (SRV) and service cuts expires at 4pm on Friday June 16. Meanwhile, Cr Andrew Baker came up with an alternative view on how to assess the impact of an SRV; one he promoted to all who were willing to listen. From May 31 to June 4, the council conducted semi-formal consultations at drop-in centres in Iluka, Grafton, South Grafton, Maclean and Yamba. These sessions were augmented by RSVP ‘roundtable’ sessions held at the same centres – apart from Grafton – and various councillor ‘listening posts’ were conducted around the valley before the formal consultations began. In effect, community members were provided more opportunities to speak with councillors and staff during the exhibition period than has previously been afforded, regarding CVC’s proposal for a special rate variation (SRV) of 8 per cent for three consecutive years – 2018/19 to 2020/21 – along with about $7million in service cuts, or $15million in cuts if an SRV is not sought or granted. During the public consultations Cr Andrew Baker took it upon himself to develop a spreadsheet of sorts that considers the impacts of an SRV (including the temporary 6.5 per cent in this year’s base rate) over a 10-year period from 2014/15. Councillor Baker used his CVC 10-year Rates Effect sheet to purportedly show ratepayers that the negative economic effect of the proposed SRV increase on ratepayers was far less than what many people may have thought. For example, using the lowest residential base rate in 2014/15, $431, as an example, Cr Baker says that by year 10 (2024/25) the average increase per year is $19. Using the highest single business base rate in Grafton as an example, $4,442, he says the average increase per year is $191. Councillor Baker’s figures, which he said have been certified as correct in a mathematical sense by CVC’s staff, assume a 2 per cent rate peg in each year from 2018/19. However, in dollar terms during the proposed three years of SRVs, which will then remain permanently in the rates base, the lowest residential example would see its base rate increase from $453 (in 2017/18) to $571 by 2020/21, an increase of $118 or $39 a year on average. The highest single business example’s base rate would increase from 2017/18’s $4,662 to $5,872, an increase of $1,210 by 2020/21, or $403 a year on average. With these differing scenarios seemingly at odds, given that in real terms people will have to pay the increases as they are levied, the Independent spoke with Cr Baker about the logic (or not) behind his CVC 10-year Rates Effect sheet. Turn to page 6 for the interview with Cr Andrew Baker.