COMMUNITY members approached recently to take part in a survey about Shoalhaven City Council’s plans for an 8 per cent rate hike were scathing in many of their replies.
“They will just waste this money as well.”
“We don’t need a rate rise.”
“Why don’t they [council] work within their means?”
These were just some of the responses collected.
Sanctuary Point residents Tony Blain and Allen Kruse conducted the survey as concerned community members and not as part of any group.
They approached residents near the IGA supermarkets in St Georges Basin and Sanctuary Point.
Being Saturday morning some people were in a hurry but 90 per cent of the people approached stopped and signed the petition.
People were worried they would not be able to afford to pay their rates.
Mr Blain and Mr Kruse collected around 500 signatures, which will be presented to council.
The two men were surprised by what they were told.
“Many people were not aware that council was increasing the rates,” Mr Blain said.
Council did encourage the local community to have its say on the proposed rate rise by taking the time to read a discussion paper.
Mr Blain did not think people were even aware the discussion paper existed.
They said well publicised community meetings would have been a better way to go.
Shoalhaven mayor Joanna Gash said the community would be consulted as the process continued.
She reminded ratepayers that at this stage council had applied for 4.6 per cent increase above the rate pegging limit (3.4 per cent) for one financial year and that the application had not been approved.
Cr Gash also acknowledged the community’s views.
“I don’t want to be head of a council not living within its means,” she said.
It was also suggested that the new council did not have a mandate to apply for the rise.
Cr Gash asked how she could have gone to the people with plans for a rate rise when before being elected mayor she was not even aware of council’s financial situation.
Meanwhile, the discussion paper aimed to help residents get a better understanding of the proposed increase.
It outlined council’s current budget situation and identified the specific areas where the additional funding would be spent.
Submissions on the rates increase where closed last week.
Mr Blain and Mr Kruse, on behalf of all residents, asked for community consultation take place to determine where the additional funds were spent.