THE GAZETTE asked Meander Valley councillors how they felt about their decision to increase rates by 4.6 per cent.
Mayor Craig Perkins
I’m comfortable that we’ve had a good look at our finances to make sure we’re providing a high level of service at the lowest possible cost. Even though our percentage increase in rates is higher than others, because MV has one of the lowest costs per ratepayer in the state, in real terms our ratepayers are still paying less
Deputy Mayor Michael Kelly
No I’m not happy with the rates increase. There was little interest from councillors to reduce the increase amount. In fact two indicated that rates should increase well above the 4.46 per cent. I changed my vote on the second vote as it was important to give council certainty so that it could meet its legal obligations and be stable.
Cllr Tanya King
I’m not entirely happy with the rise as in percentage terms it is relatively high. I am satisfied however that the council explored many options to keep the rates rise at a minimum while still maintaining service levels to ratepayers. Because council already has a tight budget and operates efficiently, it is dffiicult to make savings. It is noteworthy that despite the rate rise, Meander Valley Council still maintains the lowest average rates in the northern region.
Cllr Rodney Synfield
Happy is not a word I would use to describe the level of rate increase agreed to. I have long held the view that with relatively low annual average adult incomes in our municipality, we need to be very careful to keep rate increases manageable and to a minimum, in consideration of our community’s capacity to pay such.
Cllr Deb White
No-one is happy to see costs go up, however I agree that a rate rise above CPI is necessary for the council to keep pace with the expenditure required to maintain our assets and infrastructure in a safe and acceptable condition.
Cllr Ian Mackenzie
Initially I was supportive of the five per cent increase proposed in June, however in review we can’t keep putting up rates. We are locked into contracts that need, in my view, to not be renewed that pay for functions of council or regional bodies that could be done in-house or are in areas that I believe councils shouldn’t necessarily be involved in.
Cllr Andrew Connor
No I am not happy; the five per cent rise recommended by council officers that I supported was to maintain budget status quo in the face of ever-rising costs and reduced income from Taswater dividends. The slight reduction to a 4.46 per cent increase pushed by other councillors was achieved only by cutting services and raising charges. I initially rejected that as too low but made a pragmatic decision to approve the budget which was already a month overdue so that council could issue rates notices in a timely manner and continue to operate normally. The difference between 4.46 per cent and 5.00 per cent was only $2.00-$4.00 per property.
Cllr Bob Richardson and Cllr John Temple
No comments given.