Editorial May 4th 2018

Welcome to this week’s editorial, May the Fourth is here already—where does that time fly to? With several months ahead of the quiet times that the south coast experiences every year we prepare ourselves to go into hibernation mode. With that hibernation comes a cost. The financial buoyancy of summer is gone. The tourists have gone and the influx into our local economy dollars; of meals out, holiday accommodation, services and turn-style incomes from activities have come to an end. As have the hundreds of jobs that go with it. A goodly proportion of our seasonal hospitality industry workers will now be left either unemployed or under-employed and be living hand to mouth for the next six months until summer comes around again. Not to worry though. Any of our local residents transitioning into other employment will be able to jump onto Newstart with the certainty that $40 a day will pay their rent, their electricity, the cost of running a car that is a must have for anyone in regional Australia trying to find work and then, with all the money left over each week, they can feed themselves, their kids and send them off to school with packed lunches, excursion money and smelling of shampoos and soaps. Even the family dog at $2 per day should be concerned. Oddly enough since the Government so reassuringly announced that you could live on $40 a day on Newstart allowance not one of the 79 Coalition members asked to comment have responded. Wonder how our Councillors would go? Ours is a very fragile and fractured economy on the South Coast. While the General Manager of Council enjoys a $300,000 plus salary and Council staff ($33 million in wages) all enjoy their annual CPI increases most of our workers are doing it harder with no-pay increases and while there are mounting overheads covering everything from fuel to food. Adding to these will be the 2.3% proposed increase in Council water and sewer fees, fees for use of council facilities such as pools, halls and courts and the mandatory annual increase in our rates of 1.5%. The problem we have with all those increases is that our population isn’t increasing all that fast, nor are their salaries, We have no major industry other than seasonal tourism and all of those fee hikes have to be taken up by residents. Councillor Lindsay Brown has thrown a few ideas around such as rating properties on their improved value (market value) instead of on the unimproved value of the land as it is presently rated. There are also murmurings in closed corridors of introducing a business tax so that businesses contribute more to the Shire’s revenue. It has also been mooted of having a bed tax for accommodation providers that could also include listed holiday lettings on sites such as Air BnB and Stayz. Maybe a toilet tax or bed tax across the shire might pop up as well. In all, the upcoming Federal budget and the proposed fees and charges from Council will once again have a concerning impact on our community. And those on limited fixed incomes might need to consider their options and their affordabilities. Until next, Lei

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