Council approves 2.6% rates increase
It appears that the 38 to 40% of "well off" non resident ratepayers outside of the shire will carry the burden of the now adopted 2.6% rate rise. "We have 25,000 rateable properties, 38 to 40% are outside the shire" . "So these people who are outside the shire are quite well off and assume they've got several properties. That works out to be about 10,000 people, 10,000 rate notices." Clr Lindsay Brown June 23rd Council meeting In line with most other NSW councils, rates and fees will rise by 2.6 per cent - the NSW Government’s recommended increase for councils this year. The determination of 2.6% came firstly from a failed amendment by Councillor Phil Constable who suggested the rise be 2.2% to reflect CPI. The reduction was debated with the Mayor agreeing that it made sense to her and would have her vote, much to the annoyance of Councillor Lindsay Brown who said using the CPI is grossly flawed saying "I think any reduction in the cost of this rate rise is actually flawed as we are making decisions in the absence of knowledge" having observed "I can't understand the correlation of the cost of an icecream and a wheelbarrow of concrete." Councillor Mayne had offered that it should be a 0% rate rise recognising the impact that the bushfires and Covid have had to the financial well being of the Shire. Councillor Mayne observed that while it is argued that around 30 per cent of Council’s $116 million operating expenditure budget will be spent directly supporting the local economy through the purchase of materials, goods and services, direct employment and use of labour and local plant hire and contractors the reality is also that 36% of Councils total budget is spent on wages and that there is little hope of an arbitration increase to wages above 1.5%, let alone 2.6%. Councillor Pollock concluded his opinion on supporting the 2.6% rate rise by saying "You ought to get your hand off it and do something sensible in this regard". It was unclear who he was directing his comment to as it was a Zoom session with the Councillors assembled like the Brady Bunch around the screen. Once again the Mayor showed her bias in her failure to declare a Point of Order on Clr Pollock who was sitting by the General Manager when he made the remark that suggested one of his fellow councillors was masturbating during the meeting. Clr Brown observed in discussion that "we have 25,000 rateable properties, 38 to 40% are outside the shire" . "So these people who are outside the shire are quite well off and assume they've got several properties. That works out to be about 10,000 people, 10,000 rate notices." What we are doing is actually targeting the 10,000 who live in the shire and pay rates and you are giving a discount to the you know, The Bridge Plaza, the super funds, the multi millionaires that don't live in the shire". "Is that what we are trying to do?" Of interest was that Clr Brown also said on the day "When we make decisions now, in this space, for this next twelve months that has ongoing effects, twenty years effects and I for one don’t want to be seen as a councillor that managed to put the present, the short term view, before what was actually happening and what the community needs in the future. Things need to be spent, things need to be done." It will be interesting to see if he hold the same opinion when it comes to discussion on the long term, and still unknown financial burden of the Mackay Park Project.
Clr Constable responded saying he firmly believed that money going into the community had a much better multiplier effect that money going into a government instrumentality". In the end the 2.6% rate rise was voted on with Clrs Nathan, Constable, McGinlay and Mayne voting AGAINST.
However, changes to Council’s hardship policy mean those who need help paying their rates will get it, with interest-free payment plans available over 12 months.
Reducing hardship for residents, leading bushfire recovery and stimulating the local economy are the focus of Eurobodalla Council’s blueprint for the next 12 months.
The Council on Tuesday approved its revised budgets and plans for the coming financial year, as the community embarks on the massive task of rebuilding after the bushfire crisis and COVID-19.
To assist the building industry S94 and S64 contributions, which go toward the cost of Council infrastructure associated with development, will be deferred to later in the process.
The Council also allocated $200,000 to its Disaster Relief Fund specifically for businesses that lost revenue from the recent bushfires or COVID-19, and a further $200,000 to assist those who lost their homes in the bushfires with the cost of DA fees to rebuild.
Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes said that over the next 12 months Council would focus on leading bushfire recovery and stimulating the local economy.
“Council truly understands the hurt within our community and we know we have a long road ahead after such devastating loss,” she said.
“This plan ensures we have the capacity to advocate and assist our community with the rebuilding process, and to continue to provide much-needed services and infrastructure, while maintaining sustainable management of Council's finances now and into the future.”
Major Council projects over the term include progressing construction of the Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre at Batemans Bay, the Moruya Airport redevelopment, activating the Batemans Bay waterfront, and more than $2.3 million of works to improve recreation opportunities at Gundary, Bill Smyth and Captain Oldrey Park ovals.
Council’s 2017-21 Delivery Program and 2020-21 Operational Plan can be viewed at www.esc.nsw.gov.au