Like every other ratepayer in Bass Coast last week I received my rate notice along with a bright pamphlet explaining how the tax was going to be spent. I was chuffed to read that the rates and charges had only been increased this year by an average of $83 per property or 5.9 per cent. I was not so chuffed to find out that in fact the rates on my home had gone up by $185 or 8.1 per cent. And that is not even including the garbage charge and new Fire Levy. When I rang the shire offices to seek an explanation, a nice person confirmed that the rate in the dollar had gone up by 8.1 per cent. The same nice person refused to comment when it was suggested that there had been a huge degree of political licence exercised by the authors of the pamphlet when it came to claiming the increase was only 5.9 per cent.
This latest increase means that the rates on my home have gone up by 109 per cent in the past 10 years. At the same time council services have been progressively reduced. We used to have a hard rubbish collection. We used to have a depot on the island for green and hard waste (for an extra a charge of course). Other basic services have also been slowly eroded or charges increased whilst money has been wasted on projects dreamt up by who knows whom. It seems to me that more and more we are paying for an increasingly bloated bureaucracy top heavy with management fat cats feeding off the income, pensions and savings of Bass Coast residents. It is not good enough when you compare the rates charged and services provided in Bass Coast with those in other local government jurisdictions. It is not good enough when we were continually promised fiscal responsibility and prudence by new councillors who then fail to deliver and provide the same lame excuses as did their predecessors. And it is not good enough if ratepayers just sit back and let it happen.
If the Federal or State governments put up their taxes such as GST etc by 10 per cent each year there would be rioting in the streets yet we let these inexperienced and clearly financially irresponsible part time politicians and their inept financial advisers get away with daylight robbery. Bass Coast Shire Council has an important role to play in our community but like every other business or service provider or individual it must be financially responsible and be held financially accountable. Like everyone else, it has to learn live within its means. It cannot keep slugging the ratepayers with huge rate increases every year. If it cannot achieve this then councillors and management should resign and let an administrator do the job. If you are as annoyed as I am, why don’t you let the State Minister for Local Government know how you feel? The Minister is the Hon Jeanette Powell and her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org If you can’t do that then get on the phone to the council at 1300 226 278 or ring your local councillor and let them know how you feel. You might just feel as good as I do now having written this letter. Whatever you do, have a nice day.
Charles Farquhar, Cape Woolamai.