Adelaide Plains Council made the controversial move of putting the financial wellbeing of ratepayers before profit at the March 20 council meeting, by voting in favour of any future rate rises being aligned to and not exceeding each year’s current South Australian Consumer Price
The motion was put forward by councillor Steve Jones, who stated it was something that had been coming for quite some time and was not actually rate capping.
Cr Jones cited ever-increasing financial burdens for rate payers and the possible future inability to afford living within the council area as the reason the council needed to align its rates with the CPI.
“We are here to service ratepayers and look after ratepayers and make sure that we don’t put ratepayers in the position where their standard of living is going to deteriorate over time,” he stated.
“We’ve been told for a while now that we are an eight-million-dollar-a-year business.
“Well, if we are a business then like any business you need to go out and increase your market research, you invent a better product or you sell it better, don’t just raise the price and try and hope that someone’s going to buy some more.
“I believe that it is time, it’s also something that is likely to come into effect from the state government level anyway in the future, so we are just acting as a trailblazer here.”
Cr Eddie Stubing was quick to second the motion, however APC mayor Tony Flaherty ignited a tense exchange between himself and Cr Jones by offering his own understanding of the motion that “a lot of councils have gone broke through rate capping.”
“Oh Mr Mayor, I’m disappointed you’ve said that because unless you can provide some validation, that’s just hearsay and I’m disappointed you said that, I think that is just erroneous,” Cr Jones replied.
Deputy mayor, Mel Lawrence said he would support the decision as rates have increased by 100 per cent in the last eight years.
“If this keeps going, people won’t be able to live in the area, it’s just going too high, it’s twice what Burnside is now,” he said.
Cr Strudwicke explained his reasons for not supporting the motion stating the difficulty in terms of the budget process when using an unknown value such as the CPI. Councillors Strudwicke, McColl and Danielle did not support the motion, however it was carried with support from councillors Jones, Picard, Stubing, Lawrence and Di Troia. Councillor Keen was absent.
It was clarified, however, that this motion was “not set in stone,” as questioned by Cr Stubing, so it is hoped APC will be able to make the eight-million-dollar-a-year business profitable for the sake of the ratepayers it services.