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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Living the the Eurobodalla to get a whole lot more expensive

When was the last time your wage went up 2.7% to cover increases in the cost of living? Not in an age because you are on a fixed income, on a non-award wage, a self funded retiree? Well you better find 2.7% more for your rates and charges, water, sewer, garbage, pool fees, tennis court fees and even your annual organisation memberships if you have meetings in any council hall The proposed increases to rates and charges that the General Manager of Council, Dr Catherine Dale, is putting forward in her recommendation next week will come as a shock to those that don't enjoy the annual CPI increases in their salaries as part of their award. The proposed changes include:  The general rate increases by 2.7%, the rate peg amount for 2019-20.  The environment fund rate increases by 2.7%.  The waste collection charges reduces by 2.9% for the typical household.  The water access charge increases by 3.1% to $330 (20mm connection access charge) and the usage charge increases by 1.4% to $3.65 per kilolitre. Water charges are determined taking account of the NSW Best Practice Pricing Guidelines.  The sewer access charge increases by 2.1% to $970 (20mm connection access charge) and the usage charge increases by 2.1% to $1.92 per kilolitre. Council’s proposed Fees and Charges for 2019-20 (not including statutory fees) have generally been increased by 2.7%. Councillor Pat McGinlay revealed last year that Eurobodalla Council charges inflated water and sewerage fees in order to generate a profit that can then be fed into the General Fund. While this is legally allowed he revealed that Council has done this for years as a way of increasing the General Fund revenue because IPART restricts Council to go above what they rate peg annually.

Above: in just four years Rates and Annual Charges have increased by 9.71741% and User Charges have increased by 31.68086%. Meanwhile Employee costs have blown out by 21.4626% If you dare question the Council over the blowout they will simply say that they are just doing what the community wants and that the budget "outlines the four year activities and annual actions Council will undertake to contribute to achieving our community’s vision to be friendly, responsible, thriving and proud. Each service that assists in achieving the outcome is identified." In a nutshell (why it is YOUR fault the fees are going up and not Council's): Councils are required to prepare a Community Strategic Plan, Delivery Program and Operational Plan. The Community Strategic Plan is the highest level that Council prepares and is a whole of community plan, reviewed and developed in partnership with the community through surveys and feedback. Council says "It identifies and articulates the community’s long term aspirations, priorities and vision." The Delivery Program then details the activities that the Council will deliver over its four year term and the strategies it will implement in consultation with the community and contained in the Community Strategic Plan. The Operational Plan details the actions to be undertaken during the next financial year and includes the annual budget and fees and charges for the year ahead. So the reason our rates are increasing (blowing out) is because we want more than we can afford and we have told Council our most important goal is to have stuff so please bump up our rates, user charges, fees, water, sewer, environment and garbage fees as much as you can to ensure we have all this stuff and we will find some way of raising the money to pay for it and for the increase in Council staff required to build and maintain all the stuff we want. So there you have it. No belts being pulled in - just more and more stuff being built because we apparently want it even though we can't afford it. And all this will be voted on by our councillors reassured by the staff that this is exactly what the community wants. In the last two years of this Council not one councillor has suggested pulling in the belt. Not one councillor has asked for any report into the financial consequences of their decisions on the community. In their report they are fixated on "The focus to ensure long term financial sustainability while ensuring the continued delivery of a broad range of services and capital works as informed by Council’s underlying strategies." Many years ago with a previous General Manager he was advised that the community couldn't afford the increases he was proposing. His response was "If they can't afford it they can go and live somewhere else". It appears little has changed. You can have your say but you may as well pee in the wind as the Gang of Six voting block will no doubt endorse this under the professional advice of the staff and the recommendation of the General Manager. As to presenting your protestations at a Public Forum, to be video and archived for the whole community to listen to.... that too will be gone when Council vote to remove video and audio capture of presentations along with minutes of the Public Forum proceedings.

NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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