Reading our local paper I see that Bass Coast Councillors have fired the opening salvo as they attempt to punch through the ‘Fair Go Rates Cap’ so that they can continue to slug the community with excessive rate increases.
And to shake the confidence of ratepayers, they’ve immediately wheeled out those predictable old ‘frighteners’ namely, cuts to services and job losses.
The CEO is reported as saying “It’s time for the community to make some tough decisions” pertaining to where expenditure is targeted.
Well I reckon that our elected councillors would do well to start with some tough decisions in pertaining to the exorbitant remuneration packages granted to the CEO and his executive staff.
And believe me, there is widespread community opinion that council CEO’s and executives are too highly remunerated.
For example, some excerpts from the Local Government Minister media release:
“Minister for Local Government, Natalie Hutchins, has cautioned local councils against using the Government’s Fair Go Rate Cap as an excuse to cut vital staff and services, while they continue to waste money on excessive executive pay and councillor spending”.
“Councils need to put a stop to over-the-top executive pay rises and needless waste”.
BCSC wants to raise rates by an average of 4.7 per cent this year.
Because of the differential rating system, that will translate to an increase of around 6 per cent or more for residential ratepayers.
In other words, residential ratepayers are likely to be slugged with increases of more than four times the current inflation rate.
To get this through, BCSC will need to have demonstrated extensive consultation with local communities.
The council CEO believes that Bass Coast has already done that, and is quoted as saying: “We had a fairly comprehensive consultation around the development of our Long Term Financial Plan during the past 12 months, and we’ve continued to do additional consultation through workshops.”
What absolute nonsense!
Having attended many council meetings over the last 12 months, I’ve repeatedly attempted to get assurances from councillors that they would hold rate increases to the inflation level, only to be fobbed off with referral to some future annual review.
In separate communications with councillors it has become quite apparent that they will strongly resist the rate cap, regardless of community objection to their continuing rate gouging.
Well here we are; it’s LTFP review crunch time for our elected councillors.
The CEO has now served up his list of frighteners to councillors.
The question is whether they will meekly follow his lead and once again inflict excessive increases on ratepayers, or will they do what they are charged by the community to do and lead the CEO so that this council starts living within ratepayers’ means.
These councillors need to get their house in order, and to stop behaving like spoiled children who think that can summon our money at will, as if it grows on trees.
Council hasn’t yet announced any community forum, but I hope to see you there when it happens.
Kevin Griffin, Inverloch