Letter to the Editor

Ed, A few observations about Council’s proposed increases to both Rates and Service Fees and Charges Revenue. There has been a lot of nonsense about the rate rises from Council. The costs to residents are much greater than the ‘cup of coffee a fortnight’ claimed in Council’s Roads to Sustainability brochure, which was mailed out to Rate Payers. Let’s be clear. The increase in Rates over the 5 year period is 46.93%. For the people of the Valley that averages about $20 per fortnight Extra. And the increase is on Rates. This nonsense that you can average this huge increase with the other non-rate items mentioned on your Rates Notice does Not detract from the Rates rise of 46.93% by one cent. The increase is on your minimum or base rate plus the ad valorem amount. That’s your rates. You might just as well ‘average’ the amount with your car registration payments or some other bill totally unrelated to your Rates. It won’t change how much extra you will have to pay. The other Half of Council’s proposed increases in revenue comes from their 211 page book of User Fees and Charges. Councils claim that the Revenue increase will be offset by the highway construction may have some small truth to it. Perhaps workers coming here temporarily may decide to bring their pets and have them registered and micro-chipped locally, or bring their domestic and garden waste from their permanent address all the way to the Clarence to use our tip. They might even apply for a buskers permit or join the local library etc., while applying for DAs and construction certificates when they are not actually working, but again, I think the increases from those people will be very minor. It would be good if Council’s ‘guess’ that a significant part of the 53.7% increase in Revenue did somehow come from the Highway bypass. The Only other source of this 53.7% increase in Revenue that Council have promised in order to claim it will be Fit for the Future to the Independent Regulator (IPART) is the pockets and wallets of local residents and businesses. If that is how this unfolds, then local residents and business will, on average, be slugged a further $20 per fortnight increase. I note that it is impossible to clarify the actual amount per person or business because of how Council have written their proposal. As a result we are left with averages across people and businesses which reflect the total amount Council expect to gain in Revenue without specifying the actual amount per item in increased taxes. Both these proposals are unaffordable for residents in a Local Government Area where half the people earn less than $34,000 per year. Combined, they represent a crippling blow of about $40 per fortnight to the Clarence, her people, local business and our future as a Community. Rather than continuing with these increases in charges and taxes, Council could cease building monuments? The thirteen and a half million dollars in construction costs for the proposed Depot on the side of a hill, over the top of a toxic site and next to South Grafton High School is only part of the more than seventeen million dollars Council are proposing to spend on their Depot Rationalisation Program. John Hagger -The Clarence Forum