Your View: Rate capping debacle

THE public debate about rate capping for council budgets is an absolute farce.

The state government administers the Local Government Act, setting out the constitution, powers and principles of councils.

The state confers on councils the ability to raise rate revenue. Different groups of ratepayers have always debated the fairness and validity of rates. These vary between rural, regional and urban ratepayers and setting equitable values is a contentious issue.

What makes the present government’s policy to cap rates farcical is past state governments have used excessive taxation attempting to balance budgets and cover over-expenditure. Only now the Marshall Liberal government has applied financial restraint and responsibility by lowering its charges to help South Australians pay the excessive costs of power, water and soaring charges from its own departments.

I support rate capping on two stipulations:

  • Councils also be forced to apply budgetary restraint by following strict mandatory audit procedures. This must include scrutiny by a system like ESCOSA so waste, oversupply and internal economies can be applied and adhered to.
  • Councils review staffing levels and consider scaling down departments to achieve economies of scale, and use key performance indicators to justify internal procedures and staff performance.

I make these stipulations using the models of past councils, small governing bodies. They were run by a clerk, one or more employees, and most staff were outside employees providing numerous services. During this period town and country roads were formed, many sealed, footpaths paved, ovals, courts and public amenities built.

Council meetings took mostly all day. Councillors debated, prioritised and made decisions about every issue, decisions not unduly influenced by staff trying to install their own agendas. Councils have become a reflection of our state and federal governments, unduly influenced by escalating bureaucracies and expenditures out of control.

Grantley H. Dodd, Stansbury

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