Ratepayers are not money trees to pluck cash from: LETTER
Christopher Beck, of Coolgardie, wrote this letter to The Northern Star:
IT IS a pity that the mayor and councillors of Ballina Shire have not grasped the fact that its ratepayers are not money trees from which they can pluck cash whenever they want.
This is what they are doing by trying to get a 15.7% increase in rates in the next three years.
And they are doing it by slight of hand by trying to get the NSW Government's Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to back them up.
What this council and some others in NSW don't understand is that present business and consumer finances are generally much more fragile than we have been led to believe.
This month one of our four major banks said that business conditions had hit their highest level since early the global financial crisis.
One can only doubt the validity of that survey when in the same month one of the other big banks said that its survey had shown that "the consumer mood remains downbeat with September marking the tenth consecutive month that pessimists have outnumbered optimists".
Both cannot be correct. And the Australian Bureau of Statistics recently revealed that in August, Australians spent 0.6% less on retail goods and services than in July. This is the biggest one-month fall in spending since March 2013.
The public only has to look at the way retailers and other businesses are using discounted sales to drum up cash-flow.
People just don't have the money to spend at a time when wage growth is negligible and inflation, at around 1.8%, is low.
Asking for 5% plus annual increases in rates in these circumstances will hit everyone, from young families to pensioners.
One of the likely results is that increased rates will withdraw significant cash from the local economy and so increase the downward economic spiral. Thus it is self-defeating.
Ballina Shire Council needs to re-think its priorities.