THE decision by Shoalhaven City Council to seek a rate increase of 4.6 per cent above the 3.4 rate pegging limit – if approved, a hike of 8 per cent – will involve a conversation with the community that really should have taken place during the term of the last administration.
No one likes additional costs straining the household budget, as this increase is likely to do. However, the community made it quite clear during the last year of the last administration that it was fed up with the crumbling state of local infrastructure, more notably the roads.
Now the new administration is faced with the challenge of convincing ratepayers that the extra rates contribution is necessary to pay for the long overdue maintenance of roads and footpaths.
It will have to be very clear in spelling out exactly where the new money will be spent and when. The rate paying motorists who daily suffer the rutted surface of Quinns Lane at South Nowra, for instance, might think the extra few dollars charged every quarter is worth it if they have an assurance the road will be fixed by a certain time.
Both sides in the argument – the majority of councillors that voted to apply for the increase and the minority that did not – have urged residents to make their opinions heard during the community consultation period. In this regard, both sides are right.
There is no use complaining if you don’t step up before a decision is finalised and make known your opinion.