LEETON Shire Council's special rate variation proposal of 52.52 per cent over the next two financial years will take centre stage at community consultation sessions over the next two weeks.
Councillors unanimously voted for the proposal to go out to the community for public consultation, with sessions planned across the shire starting on Tuesday, October 18 at the Yanco Hall and later that evening at the Hydro Hotel.
The proposal is for a 24 per cent increase in rates for the 2023-24 financial year and 23 per cent in 2024-25. These include the estimated rates peg set by IPART.
Council said at present it does not receive enough revenue in its general fund to cover the cost of maintaining current community assets, services and facilities such as roads, drainage, parks, playground, library, pools, museum, galleries and the Roxy Theatre.
The proposal has been met with anger and backlash from the community, particularly on social media.
Those residents with concerns have been urged to attend the sessions to air their thoughts and to also hear council's reasoning behind the proposal for the special rate variation.
One resident who isn't happy about the proposal is Frank Galluzzo.
In a letter to the editor, Mr Galluzzo questioned why elected councillors had been "silent" on the matter.
"The silence from the elected council officials and management is deafening and unacceptable regarding the huge, proposed rate increase," Mr Galluzzo wrote in his letter.
"Simply holding information sessions during business hours to give information and receive 'feedback' during business hours which most rate payers will struggle to attend due to work commitments is simply unacceptable and just spin to make the appearance that they are taking ratepayers comment on board.
"Elected council officials and management need (to) hold a town meeting to meet with concerned rate payers face-to-face and justify the increase and show evidence on how they have looked to cut costs internally to help ease their financial burden, and what alternative revenue streams they have investigated to relive the burden on rate payers."
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Council has planned several sessions outside of business hours, including one on October 18, another on October 19 and online sessions from 5.30pm to 6.30pm on October 27.
In his letter, Mr Galluzzo said he wasn't opposed to a rate increase, but said the proposal was too high for community members to take on.
"I am not opposed to a rate increase as the cost of living and inflation has pushed up the cost on everything," he wrote.
"However over 50 per cent over two years is simply too high and unacceptable.
"Any private business would never increase their prices by so much as it would simply mean the failure of their business."
Residents have been encouraged to attend community consultation sessions to be held on:
- October 18, Yanco Hall, 3.30pm to 4.30pm and Hydro Hotel from 6pm to 7pm.
- October 19, Leeton library from 10am to 11am, Wamoon Park from noon to 1pm, Gossamer Park from 2pm to 3pm, Hydro Hotel from 6pm to 7pm.
- October 20, Whitton hall from 10am to 11am, Murrami hall from noon to 1pm.
- October 25, CBD kiosk, Pine Avenue, from 11am to 1pm
- October 27, online sessions from 10am to 11am and 5.30pm to 6.30pm.
More information on proposal can be found at https://haveyoursay.leeton.nsw.gov.au/special-rate-variation where residents can also have their say through an online survey.
Submissions from the community airing their thoughts can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and by letter to the General Manager, 23-25 Chelmsford Place, Leeton NSW 2705.
Submissions must be received by 5pm on November 9.
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