Editorial June 21st 2019
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 Councillor and Mayor fee increase is also to be delivered in the same report that says the annual Ordinary Rates for 2019-20 are to rise 2.7%. The Environment Levy will also increase 2.7%, the water consumption charge will increase by 1.3%, the water availability charge will increase by 3.0% and the sewer availability charge will increase by 2.1%. Businesses across the shire will also be facing increases that no doubt they will have to pass on to consumers. With many reliant on tourism the coast is now in its third negative growth quarter that equates to recession. 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. So will the Councillors vote themselves a rise? If they are true to form they will, most likely patting themselves on the back as well for the great job they are doing? But isn’t it the ratepayers, the employers, who should make the decision.
Above: Who pays for Councillor's wage rise? Ratepayers !! And they have no say because the Councillors get to vote for it themselves. No KPI's, No measurement, no public input. Bega Councillors have said no three years in a row.
Over the last year what have Councillors actually achieved? Very little in fact. Yes, they have rubberstamped all of the reports and recommendations put before them however they have also pretty much ignored the opinion of anyone who dared challenged their decisions in Public Forum. Now, sick of being attacked for failing to act on behalf of ratepayers, the Councillors have decided to close down the webcasting of live streaming possibly as a way of saving further loss of respect and regard by the community. Public Forum is now unseen and unheard with Eurobodalla Council the only council in the South East NSW to do so. 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 of increased rates will be the increases of user pays Fees and Charges for halls, fields, tennis courts, pools, tip fees and council administration fees. 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 many 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. Further south the Bega Valley councillors have turned down a proposed fee increase for the third year in a row. 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 considerable. All up, $326,000 is currently paid to our Councillors and Mayor in salaries, phone and internet, travel and other. Not only will you now have to find the extra dollars for your rates and fees but also the extra $5300 a year for your councillors pay rise. Until next, Lei