In a response to my letter published in last week’s South Gippsland Sentinel-Times, it seems Cr McEwen missed my point.
The issues I raised concerning the recent Rates Strategy amendment, moved by Cr McEwen and seconded by Cr Hill, had to do with right and wrong, good governance and its lack, and with respect – or not – for due process.
It was not to do with whether the amendment (its basis and the process for overturning a policy document adopted by the council) was lawful or unlawful.
Despite the motion putting the amendment being, to the best of my knowledge, contrary to prior legal advice given to Cr McEwen and Cr Hill, putting it forward and moving it was not, by all accounts, ‘illegal’. Arguing this seemed to be the thrust of Cr McEwen’s letter.
That it was within the law does not make what they did, given the basis of the amendment and that council had already exhibited, approved and adopted the strategy, ‘right’.
Cr McEwen was not a member of the Rates Strategy Committee, and I find it difficult to recognise myself as a former member in some of his representations of our role and remit.
However, leaving these aside, I would point out that, contrary to Cr McEwen’s reference to the ‘previous rating strategy’, there was no complex differential rating strategy prior to the council’s 2014/15 rates strategy development process.
Farmers received discounted rates previously, but it was only in preparation for this budget that the council decided to reform and extend this process, and consider how other categories of ratepayers might fit within a differential rating scheme.
To redefine a rating category according to the size of one complainant’s property, as the amendment succeeded in doing, defies logic, particularly the logic underpinning the original decision-making process.
Lynn Atkinson, Foster.