Next Tuesday Eurobodalla Councillors will be voting on whether they should grant themselves a 2.5% increase. This decision will be made on the same day they put out the latest Fees and Charges for use of Council facilities from pools to playing fields and halls, water use, sewer use and tip fees that have all taken a hike skyward. The vote for a fee increase is to be delivered in the same report that says the annual Ordinary Rates for 2019-20 are 2.7%. The Environment Levy will increase 2.7% and the water consumption charge will increase by 1.3% while the water availability charge will increase by 3.0%. The sewer availability charge will increase by 2.1%. In their report Council fails to tell the average ratepayer how much more they might expect to pay using the apparently small percentages to indicate there is nothing to worry about. Last year we were able to determine that an average ratepayer with a land valuation of $190,000 would be paying an average $54.84 extra . This was based on a mean water consumption of about 100 kl per annum. A small family of 4 people would probably use triple that amount. Business rates increase by $163 all of would have been passed on to residents. Meanwhile adding to ratepayers woes will be the increases of user pays Fees and Charges for halls, fields, tennis courts, pools, tip fees and council administration fees. The Eurobodalla region in general is doing it hard. We have very high unemployment and massive underemployment. We have one of the highest levels in NSW of youth unemployment and we also have a very high dependency on social benefits that sees amny of our residents on fixed incomes. Increased rates will hit hard at the pockets of home owners who can't afford the hikes and the trickle on of rate increases will affect the limited permanent rental accommodation we have. The region is heavily reliant on tourism and we are presently in our third negative quarter. Our tourism reliant businesses are already doing it hard and these rate increases will affect their bottom line. While recent prestidigitation of visitor numbers might suggest otherwise the bank accounts of those at the coal face of tourism are hunkering down to another trough ahead as we head into winter soon to learn their rates and charges are to increase. Cant afford to pay the increase? Councillors have been recommended that they resolve to adopt the maximum interest rate allowed on overdue rates and charges for 2019-20 which will be 7.5% There is good news in all of this though.
The Waste collection charge has been decreased by 2.9% as a result of revenue expected to be received from recyclable items placed in the yellow lidded bins. This is a flow on effect from the introduction of the NSW container deposit scheme. And what of our Councillors and Mayor? Will they vote to give themselves a rise? Further south the Bega Valley councillors have turned down a proposed fee increase for the third year in a row. Last year the Mayor and Councillors voted themselves a generous 2.5% increase with no debate at all. The Executive team also were rewarded with their CPI increase and the General Manager's remuneration jumped by a staggering 6.1% from $296,866 to $315,000 by the hand of the generosity of the Councillors. Eurobodalla’s Mayor receives $61,430 per year and the councillors receive $19,310 per year. The Mayor also has a council car provided that is fully paid for by Council including fuel, rego and all running costs. Keeping in mind the Mayor lives in a remote rural area the costs of this vehicle for fuel and running costs are considerably more than you might find with a car locate at an urban address. All up, $215,910 is currently paid to our Councillors and Mayor in salaries.
In addition to the annual allowance, Council also covers some of the expenses incurred by councillors in the performance of their official duties. These expenses include the provision of iPads and mobile telephones, travel and accommodation, catering and other items and activities directly related to Council business. In the alternate weeks to Council meetings, councillors attend briefing sessions with the General Manager and Executive Leadership Team. These briefings are an opportunity for councillors to also claim travel costs.
Just for interest Eurobodalla's combined total remuneration for the financial year 2017-18 was $948,882 So there you have it: The General Manager is paid $315,000 Four executive managers receive $948,882 The Mayor and Councillors cost us $326,096 Total $1,589,979 per year
And now we can look forward to adding 2.5% more. The question remains - just how deep are our pockets before we discover we only have moths left.