At the council meeting held on 7 April last, seven councillors were in favour of a general rate rise of 2.6% for 2020/21. Only two councillors spoke against the proposal, despite the enormous financial impact being suffered by business and the community at large in our shire. For minutes refer to link – https://www.esc.nsw.gov.au/
Reference for financial data may be made to ‘Revised Draft Delivery Programme 2017-21 and Operational Plan 2020-21’ https://www.esc.nsw.gov.au/
The pie chart on page 67 of the Operational Plan indicates that the total budgeted income is $122M (see page 76). Rates and other charges make up 55% of income which equals $67M. Of this sum approximately $1.7M is attributable to the proposed 2.6% rate rise.
Disturbingly, the proposed budget also evidences a surplus of $5.6M
On the above figures, rate increases can be deferred for three years without the need to curb expenditure, or preferably, rates can be reduced as is proposed by other councils in NSW.
It has been reported that casual staff have been laid off as a cost saving exercise and there is currently a raft of government grants available to bolster council finances. In short, it is difficult to accept that a rate increase is justified.
Councillors determined that the matter of a rate rise be referred to the community for comment. See the covering page of the above Operational Plan link to make a submission regarding your thoughts on the proposed rate rise. Submissions close 20 May 2020.
Charles Stuart, for the committee.
22 April 2020