SHOALHAVEN City Council has abandoned the Community Rate Review Panel following because it failed to win community support.
The panel had been created as an engagement exercise reviewing the current rating categories for the city.
Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash said the decision to withdraw from the process was made following an inability to attract the required number of community members to sit on the panel.
The Mayor said the decision would also allow council to look more broadly at the Fit for the Future requirements announced by the NSW Government, as a total package of reform including the review of rates.
“This is exactly what we predicted when this proposal was first brought to us,” said Cr Andrew Guile.
“The right and proper forum for rating decisions lies with the elected council. The community put us there to do this and the process they suggested was restricting our role in doing the jobs and what’s worse it was controlling the submissions that could be heard from the community,” said Andrew Guile, one of four councillors who opposed the panel’s formation.
“At least bringing it back into council ensures that the end of the process will be open and transparent."
Cr Gash said the decision came down to sheer numbers.
“Council has been left no option but to discontinue the Community Rate Review Panel as a result of a lack of sufficient interest in the process from local residents, perhaps in a sign that the community feels we are on the right track.
“It is important to note that council did receive a number of volunteers from a cross section of the community, however not enough to make the panel feasible.”
The ratings review will now be wrapped up in the financial road map for council as part of the Fit for the Future package, she said.
Cr Guile said the basis of the Fit for the Future financial road map was contained in a recent report by senior staff which argued the case for a 13 per cent rate increase.
“This is confirmation from the mayor that a significant extraordinary rate rise is back on the table. The only question is when it will be imposed and not if.”