A proposal to raise Clarence Valley’s rates by 41 per cent will test five of the new councillors’ resolve to stick with their pre-election promises.
At the June 2016 council meeting, the former council resolved to: “Direct the General Manager to undertake preliminary planning for a Section 508(A) Special Rate Variation (SRV), with a view to allowing timely community consultation should the Council elected in September 2016 decide to apply to IPART for a Special Rate Variation for 2017/18.”
Councillors also resolved to include the “commentary on this direction” in Council’s adopted 2016/17 Operational Plan.
The looming special rates variation proposal, which councillors will most likely consider at their first meeting, was one of the New South Wales Treasury Corporation (TCorp) recommendations included in its CVC Financial Assessment and Sustainability report tabled and adopted at the July council meeting.
The T Corp report observed: “Council has demonstrated the impact of a potential seven-year … SRV … [which] includes an application for a special rate variation of 5.44 per cent (inclusive of an assumed rate peg 2.5 per cent) for each of seven years from 2017/18 to 2023/24, which is a cumulative increase of 41 percent that would be permanently built into the rate base from July 1, 2024.”
“Consultation [about the SRV] with ratepayers and the community will be conducted during October/November 2016,” the council’s operational plan states.
Re-elected councillors, Toms, Baker and Simmons, voted against the SRV proposal at the June meeting and reiterated their opposition to the idea during the election campaign.
Councillor Baker wrote in his election material supplied to the Independent, that he and Crs Toms and Simmons “strongly believe increases above rate-pegging IS NOT the answer”.
New councillors Novak and Ellem stated that they opposed the SRV proposal in the material they supplied to the Independent during the campaign.
Councillor Ellem said at the Maclean meet the candidates meeting that the “scale of the [proposed] SRV was an unfair burden on those doing it tough” and that it had “motivated” his decision to stand.
In his campaign material, as an alternative, he wrote: “If elected, I would push for an internal audit, or failing that, an independent management review, to ‘shake the tree’ and drive greater efficiency.”
Councillor Novak stated in her profile that she “can promise a voice that supports common sense … and not spending beyond our means or slamming local residents with a special rates variation”.
At the Maclean ‘meet the candidates’ meeting, Cr Clancy said he would not vote for the SRV during the first six months of his tenure and that he would prefer to “look at other options” beforehand.
Councillors Toms and Ellem have called for a higher level of transparency and less secrecy, regarding the council’s operational communication with the valley’s residents.
To reappraise each of the elected councillors’ pitches to the community prior to the election, go to the Independent’s Facebook site: www.facebook.com/ClarenceValleyIndependent.