Phillip Silver
Phillip Silver

Silver accuses Govt of hypocrisy

BALLINA mayor Phillip Silver has accused the State Government of ‘utter hypocrisy’ for forcing the council to seek community approval for a rate rise above the pegging limit.

At yesterday’s council meeting councillors agreed to a smaller than expected rate hike of 6.2 per cent for the 2010/11financial year.

Over four years there will be a 24pc rate rise instead of the advertised 42pc over five years.

But Cr Silver slammed the State Government for the entire rate pegging system.

He said it showed the Government did not trust councils to set their own rates.

“You can’t go to someone and say, ‘do you want to pay more tax?’,” Cr Silver said.

“They (the State Government) do not apply it to themselves.

“Yet we have to go through the process of trying to get approval for a rate rise.”

The majority of submissions and online responses that the council received were not in favour of the rate rise.

General manager Paul Hickey said this would make it difficult for the council to get approval from the Minister for Local Government.

But Cr Keith Johnson said the new proposal for a 6.2pc increase was ‘rock bottom’.

“I have been one of the most consistent opponents of rate rises,” he said.

“But the State Government keeps changing the goalposts.

“I know we will still cop some flak.”

Cr Sue Meehan said a rate hike was necessary to plan for the future of the shire.

“It’s not a pleasant sort of thing,” she said.

“But we have an obligation to develop future infrastructure as our population grows.”

Cr Sharon Cadwallader said rate increases were ‘as popular as rat poison’, but that she wanted to ‘get the best for our community’.

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