WHY delay a rate cap decision when the message has already been received loud and clear?
That was the view of Inverloch ratepayer Kevin Griffin, who challenged councillors to make an early verdict on the matter at the first council meeting of the year last Wednesday.
Rate cap workshops held in Wonthaggi and Cowes in recent weeks have attracted more than 100 ratepayers and the feedback has been close to unanimous – the community wants the council to stick to the State Government’s rule that rates cannot rise more than 2.5 per cent in 2016/17, no matter what it takes.
“At the commencement of the recent workshops, the council’s manager of governance and organisation development (Mark Brady) emphasised that their decision to seek a variation to the rate cap rests solely with the elected councillors and that it has nothing at all to do with council executives or officers,” Mr Griffin began.
“With that clear and unambiguous statement in mind… will (councillors) now do the decent thing and confirm to the community that you have listened, you have heard, that you now get it and you will advise the CEO that council is to work within the rate cap of 2.5 per cent?”
Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Jordan Crugnale, reminded Mr Griffin that the council is halfway through its consultation process, with other workshops scheduled.
“We need to see that consultation through,” she said.
“We are getting a very clear message and we will formally make a decision in March.”
Mr Griffin made sure to have the last word on the matter.
“I think you’ve got the message already and I believe you should do the right thing by the community and let them know now.
“Don’t wait until March.”
Petition sends strong message
CLOSE to 3000 ratepayers signed a petition demanding Bass Coast Shire Council stick to the rate cap imposed by the State Government.
Lead petitioner and Inverloch ratepayer Mohan de Run says the 2903 signatures collected is a “remarkable result” given it was driven across the shire by concerned residents.
The council’s CEO is correct when he reports that there is very small segment of ratepayers that oppose the rate cap,” Mr de Run said.
“Sampling continues to put that segment at well under three persons for every 100.
“The absolutely overwhelming response (97 per cent) on the street in the past 31 days is that council must operate with efficiency and stay within the rate cap.”
Largely spread through word of mouth, the petition included 1343 signatures from Phillip Island alone.
Mr de Run said the petition will be lodged by February 26, with the council and the Essential Services Commissioner receiving copies.
It appears the petition’s popularity falls in line with sentiments expressed at recent rate capping workshops hosted by the council throughout the shire.
Ratepayers have been asked to have their say at the open forums, and a clear majority have told the council to forget about applying for an exemption to the rate cap.
The cap is designed to limit rate increases to 2.5 per cent this coming financial year.