Our View (15-5-2018): Rate rise time

COUNCIL budgets are out for public consultation, and I anticipate people will have plenty to say.

Yorke Peninsula Council is proposing a hefty rise for its farmers.

CEO Andrew Cameron notes primary production landowners on in the YPC area pay considerably lower rates than those in neighbouring council regions. It’s a valid point, but I get the feeling the farmers won’t care too much about what happens elsewhere.

An 11.8 per cent rate rise is a lot to swallow in one hit. If approved, the hike would mean YPC could boost rates by 6.8 per cent overall while only slugging residential homeowners an extra 4.2 per cent. It will be interesting to see if residents write to council in support of the idea, because I’d anticipate a few farmers might write in opposition.

Copper Coast Council rates are slated to rise 3.8 per cent, as council flags a move away from big-ticket items and an increased focus on roads. The rate rise is still above CPI but will be viewed as a step in the right direction. Lower-than-expected rate rises are not without problems though. Elected members will soon find tough decisions have to be made when there is not quite as much new money in the budget. The district’s town halls are in a bad state, as is the Kadina Cemetery wall. Our heritage is important, but something will have to give – or at least wait, risking further deterioration.

Barunga West Council has taken the middle route, a 4.75 per cent average rise and a focus on roads which should please many ratepayers.

I’m sure councils wish they had enough money to fix all the problems they’d like. But it doesn’t work that way. Balancing appropriate rate rises with service levels the community expects is a constant challenge. The best way to ensure money is spent on the  most important community priorities is to have your say during the current consultation process. It’s an opportunity we don’t have with state or federal budgets, so make your voice heard.

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