Sunday, 6 July 2014

We Did It Better Than You: former Maclean shire councillor hits back at Clarence Valley Council

Letter to the Editor in The Daily Examiner on 5 July 2014:
Scrutinising rate rise
We expect a lot from our elected councillors, but right at the top of the list is honesty, transparency and competence.
I nearly fell out of my car when I heard Mayor Williamson interviewed on ABC radio about general rates levied by his council in Iluka and Maclean and he spoke about council expenditure on new sewerage systems.
The costs of all sewer systems in every town in this Valley is paid via an annual and uniform service charge levied on every ratepayer and has absolutely nothing to do with general rate income or general rate expenditure.
Council pays for new sewerage projects with Government grants, plus loan funds which are totally repaid by this service charge. To link this service charge to general rate income or general fund expenditure is misleading and disgraceful.
The new Iluka sewerage scheme and the Maclean/Lawrence scheme were developed by the former Maclean Shire Council. The only things the Clarence Valley Council can claim credit for are delays and cost blow-outs.
Today Councillor Sue Hughes has attempted to justify her support for a massive 5.66 percent residential rate hike in Maclean and Townsend by suggesting that in 2013/14 Maclean ratepayers contributed just $1.3 million to the council and received $2.3 million expenditure in return. She makes no effort to detail that expenditure and she also fails to explain that council inevitably spends more than it earns in rates in every town in this Valley as council receives untied money from the Federal Government (known as FAGS), plus a variety of grants from State and Federal governments, plus fees and service charges, as well as rate incomes.
This council constantly wastes money with massive over-runs on project budgets; huge legal costs which include unsuccessful actions against their own staff; absolute incompetence in managing simple tenancies such as Georgie's Cafe...... It is a council that has major deficits year after year in its general fund. It is a council about to seek considerable increases in rates above rate pegging limits in the very near future.
While ratepayers on the Lower Clarence have carried an increased burden since 2008, all ratepayers, including those in Grafton, should take a long hard look at this council and demand honesty, transparency and competence. We deserve no less.
Bill Day

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