‘Government Grabs more Gold’

Hi Hugh

I hope all is well!

The following is provided for publication on CoffsOutlook

I have just received a rates hike notice from the Coffs Harbour City Council.

It wasn’t called this of course – being disguised as a ‘Your Council – Your Community‘ notice.

It should’ve been called a ‘Government Grabs more Gold’ notice!

I don’t buy all of the bleating in this notice about ‘hard budget choices’.

Remember how last year they budgeted for 6% salary increases across the board for 12-13 and for the ensuing three years – 6% a year in salary increases for four years straight!!!

Is this the real reason why the rates are going up again – this time by 5.43%

Council should be benchmarking staff salaries on comparable roles in the local community and in adjoining regional local councils like the Grafton City Council – not on Sydney!!!

We have two large upmarket properties (>1000m2) in two major Australian cities, both within 20 minutes’ drive of the city centers and last year Coffs Harbour City Council rates (excl. water & sewage) for our remotely located Coffs Harbour land in what is substantially a little coastal retirement village, which, by the way, the Coffs Harbour City Council took ‘pre-developed’ by other Councils through mis-representation of residents preference to remain with their prior Council, were already 6-7% higher than for these two properties ($1421 cmf $1344 & $1161). This is before this rate hike of 5.43%! Neither of the other Councils has proposed more than twice the inflation rate increase for 2013-14. The Coffs Harbour City Council is opening up their lead on other rates – not catching up on them!!!

We have considered investing in more property in Coffs Harbour and the Council rates kill the financial viability of doing this even with suppressed property prices. The Council rates charged on units are socially criminal and are robbing current property investors (providers of low income homes) of reasonable property price returns!

We can only assume that we are being ripped off by Fat Cats who cannot manage a Council – who feel that they have to pay double the going increases to employees to keep things going.

Last year the Council sort-of asked permission in advance for the increases by way of an (empty) invitation to comment. Comments were of course registered and ignored and the following increases were pushed through regardless: water consumption (5%), sewerage access (5.5%) and waste collection & recycling charges (up to 15%).

It seems this year the Coffs Harbour City Council will try the ‘asking for forgiveness is easier than asking for permission’ approach with the invitation for comments to take place AFTER the rate hike is in effect.

As I said a year ago and basically repeat here:

Wake up Coffs Coast residents – demand an independent external review into government efficiency at the Coffs Harbour City Council, an external independent review of Council senior staff remuneration and ‘member’s expenses’ and protest any increases in rates until the Coffs Harbour City Council budget transparently aligns with those of well managed adjacent regional local government areas!

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