Richmond Valley Council applied earlier this year for a Special Rate Variation amounting to a 42% increase in rates over five years. This was the third highest rate increase of the 31 councils who applied.
Recently council has been asked to prepare two scenarios for rates, one involving the proposed 42% mega-rate increase, and the other with the 2.3% rate cap imposed by the State government.
Council business papers don’t tell us who made the request but you can bet your boots that it’s probably come from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) that determines such applications. Who else would be requesting it?
At Tuesday’s meeting of council revised financial statements were presented to council to accommodate both scenarios.
Dr Richard Gates, former president of the Evans Head & District Ratepayers and Residents Association made a special plea to councillors to withdraw their mega-application for the Special Rate Variation and also asked them to start to correct the current unfair rating structure by increasing the base rate to around 50% of the total rates take.
An increase in base rate means that the rates are more evenly distributed to the whole ratepayer base rather than the current system which punishes those who live at Evans Head simply because they live there. Services aren’t any better just because you live at the coast.
The request to withdraw the mega application was based on the ‘double whammy’ ratepayers would have to negotiate to survive. The first was from council’s proposed special rate increase and the second from the punitive measures about to inflicted on us by our arrogant and out-of-touch free marketeers in Canberra and their confected ‘budget crisis’.
Richmond Valley Council is one of the most disadvantaged councils in the State.
As anticipated, council ignored the plea to dump the mega-rate increase and voted unanimously to continue with the Special Rate Variation.
The community had very little time to consider the new draft papers before they went to council for consideration. VWD wonders how much time councillors spent too.
We know of at least one councillor who complained that business papers are delivered too close to council meetings and that there wasn’t enough time to do the necessary homework. Quite an admission. So how well prepared are councillors before they make decisions?
Perhaps they should be required to sit and pass a multiple choice examination on their budget papers before they’re allowed to make decisions! Then we’d find out how much they really knew.
Fortunately for us council has to advertise both mega and 2.3% scenarios for public comment. This is your chance to have a say.
VWD encourages everyone to write to council rejecting the mega increase with a copy of the objection letter to IPART. Make sure you indicate in the subject line “Richmond Valley Council SRV“.
Council can change its budget accordingly should the mega increase not be approved. The 2.3% scenario has already been developed. But we also need to make sure the matter is revisited as a lot has changed since council prepared these papers.