Ease rates pain


Ease rates pain

PEOPLE are tired of high rates bills and South Gippsland Shire Council must entertain the prospect of two per cent rate rises, Cr Kieran Kennedy told council last Wednesday.

He supported an unsuccessful bid by Cr Don Hill to have council direct officers to prepare a proposed budget with two per cent rate rises for the next 15 years, effective from June 2016.

That move was criticised by many councillors as unrealistic. They claimed many cost saving measures Cr Hill proposed were already being undertaken by council.

Cr Kennedy said Cr Hill had council only asked for a draft budget to be prepared for council’s consideration and that would not tie council to two per cent rate rises.

“The community feels totally disconnected from this council with the issue of excessive rates,” he said.

The motion was lost, but Cr Kennedy said council must investigate how efficiencies could be gained and translate these into cheaper rates.

Cr Hill told the meeting, “We need to be accountable for our spending and the community does not think that is the case.”

His case was based on a budget strategy prepared by himself and Cr Andrew McEwen that they said would avoid cuts to infrastructure, services and staff.

“We went on spending like a drunken sailor just expecting our community to pick up the tab. As a consequence, rates have risen by 7.9 per cent annually over the past 10 years,” their report stated.

The report called for:

  • raising productivity by aligning staff and investing in new technology to save 0.5 to one per cent in rates per annum;
  • managers to be reduced. In 2013-14, councillors Hill and McEwen reported council had 22 per cent more managers than most large rural shires;
  • procurement improvements to save $280,000;
  • support staff to be reduced;
  • a school camp to be built at Coal Creek Community Park and Museum. Councillors Hill and McEwen said the camp would make $650,000 to $1.2 million a year for an initial investment of $3.5 million;
  • a review of the use of pools and halls; and
  • the composting of green waste to raise an extra $100,000 a year.

The report also sought to abandon the construction of the hydrotherapy facility at SG Splash leisure centre in Leongatha, which Cr Hill said would cost council $2 million to build and then $170,000 a year to run.

But Cr Jim Fawcett led a charge against the motion, saying SG Splash was the most patronised facility in the shire and represented good value for money.

He said councillors Hill and McEwen were seeking the credit for projects already underway and labelled the language in the report as “school yard stuff”, with “name calling” and “emotional language”.

Deputy mayor Cr Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks was “appalled” by the report.

“It is hijacking other’s people work,” he said.

Cr Lorraine Brunt said the claim two per cent rate rises over the next 15 years was feasible was “not worth the paper it is written on” and questioned the viability of the Coal Creek camp proposal.

Cr Mohya Davies said the report was “provocative” and “poorly written”, and divided council.

She said she was aware people were feeling financial pressure due to rates but council needed funds to manage significant infrastructure and many small towns across a large area.

Short URL: /?p=16198

Posted by on Sep 29 2015. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Share your love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *