At yesterday’s council meeting I was not able to persuade sufficient of my fellow councillors to remove the $34 million of forward expenditures that as yet has no projects or other needs within the community identified.
This requires council to raise substantial more funds from ratepayers.
By failing to “return” the funds to ratepayers, it is my belief that rates charged going forwards will be nearly $2 million more per year than is required to fund our existing assets and services.
This figure was verified and supplied via the finance team.
I attempted for the second time to have council receive a report for consideration, which explained this effect on our rates raised, but the majority of councillors chose not to accept the report.
It is disappointing to me that we lost this opportunity to actually reduce our rate burden without the need to cut or reduce any services at all.
It is my opinion that this amount of money will now need to be discussed within council and a decision made as to what to do with it.
I believe options might be to leave it in a cash pile and dip into it as needed over the years, hold it as a reserve fund for future big projects (as yet unidentified), or maybe council would consider that it should be returned to ratepayers and assist in making rates sustainable for all our community and not just those wealthy enough to pay easily.
Whatever is decided by councillors at the end of the day we will all have to accept and move on with, but it is my sincere hope that my fellow councillors consider those concerns raised by ratepayers through the 223 process, when submitting to the budget process.
It is clear to anyone reading those submissions that the time has passed when councils could just raise rates willy-nilly whenever councillors wanted to build a new thing and expect the ratepayers to cough up.
Don Hill, Tarwin Valley Ward councillor, Wild Dog Valley.