The statements by our new mayor in her column last week need some clarification.
Origin of 108 per cent rate rise proposal: This was the proposal made by Dungog Council to IPART in June 2015, following a council resolution to stand alone, rather than merge.
The 108 per cent rate increase, as determined by council’s consultants Morrison Low, was the minimum necessary for Dungog Council to be financially viable into the future.
The proposed rate increase was coupled with a proposed reduction in services.
On May 1, general manager Craig Deasey reported to council that even with such a rate rise, there was no source of funding for the $3-4 million required to upgrade the council administration centre.
He also told councillors that now, two years later, an extra 20 per cent rate rise was required on top of the 108 per cent.
Special rate variations in Maitland: It is true that a second special rate variation was approved for Maitland in 2014-15 for seven years, being a cumulative total increase of 63.22 per cent.
What you were not told was that second special rate variation was preceded by the first special rate variation in 2011-12 and 2012-13 – a cumulative rise over two years of 20.87 per cent.
When these two special rate variations are taken together, Maitland ratepayers have had a 97 per cent rate rise over 10 years approved by IPART.
Conundrum for standalone council: Council’s stand-alone proposal is fundamentally based on the 108 per cent rate increase.
The mayor seems to be suggesting council will not pursue the 108 per cent rate increase, and no mention of the extra 20 per cent now required.
IPART has indicated doubt as to whether the proposed SRV would be approved.
Without the proposed rate increase, where is council’s plan for the financial viability of the shire as a stand-alone entity?
About us: Formed in 2015 with the goal of informing and consulting residents re the merger process and lobbying council to undertake this role, the community group is concerned that residents be fully informed before the poll in September.