Lush: Shed admin costs if raising council rates

THE Adelaide Plains Ratepayers Association voted to ‘meet the council ‘half way’ at its budget discussion meeting on Monday evening.

More than 50 ratepayers from the area, including Cr Steve Jones, turned up to voice a collective, formal response to council’s Draft Budget released to the public for consultation last week.

By accepting option two in the Draft Budget, the association would tolerate an average 2.5 per cent increase in its annual rates (which is higher than the Consumer Price Index) if the council was to match its cutting of expenditure by 2.5 per cent.

The requested 2.5 per cent cut was clarified as a “validated 2.5 per cent decrease in administration costs,” chairman of the association, John Lush said. It was made clear from the ratepayers they did not want the cut to affect wages of workers, but administration.

“None of us want any rate rise, but if we’re going to get the council out of this (debt) somehow we’ve got to deal with it,” Mr Lush added.

Adelaide Plains Council general manager of finance and economic development, Rajith Udugampola, walked the ratepayers through the Draft Budget and the Long Term Financial Plan (LTFP), explaining that if council were to align rate rises with CPI then it would not raise enough revenue to service the ratepayers and its loans.

Currently the council has debts of about $8 million.

Mr Udugampola said the LTFP would see this debt decrease, suggesting “by 2022, we are basically debt free.”

However, there is no contingency for flood or fire in the LTFP, and any natural disaster would affect how closely the budget is adhered to.

“It is a very tight budget,” Mr Udugampola said.

There was a general agreeance aligning any rate increases to the CPI would have seen a decrease in the standards of services provided to the community, but would, however, make the council toe the line and reign in its spending.

“We need a whole group of new councillors because quite frankly I don’t believe they are acting in the interest of ratepayers,” Mr Lush stated.

“We have to have new candidates at the next election in 2018.”

A copy of the draft 2017/2018 Annual Business Plan and Budget may be viewed at the council’s office in Mallala, and the Two Wells Service Centre, or online at www.apc.sa.gov.au

Written submissions must be received by 5pm on Wednesday May 10.

A public consultation meeting will be held at the Mallala Council Chambers on Monday May 8 (5.30 to 6.30pm) to receive verbal submissions.

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