Mayor Carpenter and the leader of the Ratepayers Demand Change Group met over the weekend to review the Council’s long term financial plan that will be considered by the Council at its meeting tomorrow and potentially bring an end to the long running differences between the two groups.
If adopted by Council, the City of Greater Geraldton ratepayers could enjoy a revised council rate of 2.25 per cent for the 2013-14 financial year – down from a proposed 7.2 per cent.
Mayor Carpenter said “The Council has considered 288 submissions received from the community, including the Ratepayers Demand Change Group and Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the CEO has now developed a Long Term Financial Plan which limits our rates revenue increase to 2.25% for 2013/14, whilst ensuring we can get back in the black within ten years”.
City Mayor, Ian Carpenter, said “I have genuinely listened to ratepayer’s concerns and I acknowledge and accept we could have done a better job last year when communicating rate changes to the public and the need for the abnormal increase in rates”.
As a result of the State Administrative Tribunal mediation, ongoing discussions have taken place with the Ratepayers Demand Change group over the last two weeks who have been instrumental in convincing the CEO and Mayor to adopt better community engagement practices.
President of the CGG Ratepayers Demand Change group, Max Correy, said “Whilst it was not necessarily the outcome the group originally sought, I am pleased with the way in which the Council has listened to our concerns and they have now provided us with a better understanding of the Council’s financial position” he said. “What particularly pleases me is that we have been also able to gain the CEO’s and Mayor’s agreement to ensure they will engage the community in a very real way in reviewing the level and range of services and in next year’s budget process” he said.
Mayor Carpenter said that the Long Term Financial Plan allowed for moderate increases over the next ten years and has included efficiency gains to be achieved. “This is a more conservative and moderate way of applying rates, the days of increases of over 27 per cent
are gone, and the City anticipates being in the black between years eight to 10 of the Long Term Financial Plan period,” said Mr Carpenter.
“We are comfortable with the proposed Long Term Financial Plan, and the fact the City has listened to the community and acknowledges it could have done a better job of explaining the reasons behind the abnormally high rate increase last year,” said Mr Correy.
“I am also happy our concerns in relation to Council’s involvement in land development activities have been considered and pleased the CEO has agreed to consult with the community and review the Council’s interest in these activities,” said Mr Correy.
Once the Long Term Financial Plan is adopted the Ratepayers Demand Change Action Group are expected to sign consent orders to withdraw the matter currently before the State Administrative Tribunal.
“This is a good outcome for both parties and the CGG Ratepayers Demand Change group recognises the time and consideration that both the CEO and councillors have put into this issue and we urge ratepayers to engage constructively with the City in the future community consultation process,” Mr Correy said.