33,020 ratepayers were asked to comment to the draft 2021/22 Bass Coast Council budget.

A submitter requested: ‘Councillors to review, explain and revise this draft budget to set an average rate rise at 0 per cent or 0.5 per cent or $50 per each rating assessment category. Consideration must be given to allocate approximately $5.5 million into the Capital Works Program financials, aiding in the reduction of an average rate rise.’

Answer from council: “A failure to adjust rates in line with the 1.5 per cent rate cap will have an adverse impact on council’s operating financial performance given the need to fund the Enterprise Agreement salary increment and an increase in contract expenditure tied to movements in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), currently 1.1 per cent – March 2021 quarter. There will be a significant impact on council’s forward financial plan as the multiplier effect of not passing on the rate cap increase will result in $14.5 million less revenue over the 10-year life of the plan. This will impact funding for future capital works and/or operational services.”

Investments above $50m per quarter this year that has provided an income return of $248,182 for 10 months of the year combined with an increase in new rateable properties (905) and moving 41 projects valued at $23 million into next year’s budget could have given council a positive surplus next year. As for the $14.5 million less funds over 10 years, $1.45 million for next year, well it’s not council’s money. It’s less money ratepayers, 33,020, would have had to pay in their next rates notice.

Graham Jolly, Cape Woolamai.