Shoalhaven Council is facing increasing calls to get back to basics and cuts its costs before hitting residents with another big rate rise.
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An extraordinary meeting is being held on Monday, November 20, to consider an independent report suggesting council lifts its rates by 40 to 44 per cent over the next three years.
This comes on the back of repeated rate rises above rate pegging limits - including a 29 per cent rise over three years from 2018-19.
If council imposes the latest suggested rate rises, it will more than double the average rate bill over 10 years from 2018.
However there are increasing calls for council to get back to basics, focusing on core responsibilities in an effort to cut costs.
State Member for South Coast and former deputy Shoalhaven mayor Liza Butler summed up much of the sentiments when she called on council to, "Stop spending for a while - concentrate on roads, rates and rubbish.
"They're out there asking for feedback on the leisure centre at Bay and Basin, well I'm sorry, you don't have money for that right now."
Ms Butler said the suggested rate rises would cause problems for a lot of people.
"The people it will affect the most are our working poor who rent because the first thing that will happen is landlords will put the rent up," she said.
Ms Butler said council "should look internally" before calling for large rate rises.
That included individual councillors not constantly calling for donations to a rage of organisations and causes.
"It's not a bottomless pit, you have to be accountable," she said.
Part of the problem started a few years ago when council voted to give people $300 off their rates bill if they applied, and also processed development applications for free.
Ms Butler said those ideas cost the council $21 million.
"It's like putting something on a credit card, it's going to come back to bite you."
A report being considered by the extraordinary meeting calls for council to cut its costs by $3 million over four years, but critics say that does no go far enough.
Suzanne Hammond-Warne established the Facebook group Shoalhaven Residents Opposing Rate Rises and Water Charge Rises, and said whatever happened, "It's not going to be a happy three years in the Shoalhaven."
"Shoalhaven does have to tighten its belt but we have to stick to the basics, and not look at all the other stuff that's on the horizon that's not important," Ms Hammond-Warne said.
"We need to focus on priorities first - that's the only way we're going to get out of this mess."
Ms Hammond-Warne said huge rate rises were going to have a major impact on Shoalhaven residents during tough economic times.
"I don't think people can handle that now, with interest rates the way they are now," she said.
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