Welcome to this week's Editors Choice One of the benefits of being an online news source is that your office can be anywhere. For the last two weeks The Beagle office has been the North Island of New Zealand. With just a lap top and a trusty internet enabled mobile phone The Beagle was able to continue in its quest to keep Eurobodalla up to date with a daily news feed. Discussions of late in Eurobodalla have been around the proposed increases in water rates, environment fees, new levies, increases in general fees and charges; all on top of the massive increase in "catch up rates" we were told we had to have for a three year period. Basically it sucks if you are on a fixed or low income, which unfortunately covers the majority of our residents. Council have been trying to explain and justify the increases by telling us that all the stuff we have, all the toilets, the facilities, the water and sewer systems, and the road networks have to meet the maximum Christmas tourism influx capacity of 100,000 or so and that because there are not enough locals to spread the cost to maintain or replace these items WE, the locals, all have to pay more. Apparently that is the just how it is and we just have to suck it in and move on. Apparently if we had a higher population and a bit more industry then we could share the costs and pay less per head. So what can/do we do - we groan. The difficulty is we only have one major industry, tourism. It is seasonal and for half of the year the Shire is like a tumbleweed town. For the other half of the year the Shire sees increases in traffic, reduction of internet and mobile services, build up of rubbish, and endless parties in neighbouring holiday houses. When asked "Do we want more population moving in to their quite corner of the world?' most say "No way" However with those newcomers would come increased services. More choice. More trades folk, more professionals. More voters. All too often we have been overlooked for Federal and State funding as we fell low in their electioneering priority list. It is all a Fine Line - not enough people - increased costs, less competition, less services however; more people equals the things we don't like about the North Coast, higher home prices, more traffic and more queues for services. The recent suggestions of Federal decentralisation might sound attractive - bring down some Canberra folk and relocate them to new premises. Maybe the old Batemans Bay Bowling club site with apartments, cafes and gyms. Yet with each and all of these ideas comes compromise - for somebody. When Council published its One Community document outlining where we are going in the next decade it had its rose coloured glasses on with blinkers to match. The Good Ship Eurobodalla has no rudder, nor does it have a destination that we are all in agreeance to because at its helm are the State and Federal governments who are in charge of the big picture of social planning and the decisions that do make a difference to how we live. So do we want to increase our population and our industry, improve our trading corridors to provide easier access, open up more rural land for subdivision, reduce minimum lot sizes and increase building heights, create more local employment for our youth so they don't have to move away... or do we want to keep it all just as it is - and accept that we have to pay more in rates and fees for the luxury of living in a low population paradise? Until next week Lei
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