Having read your article on the proposed rate increase I would recommend the community ask for a full inquiry into the operations of the council since 2016.
It became clear from 2017 onwards that council had ceased to follow the rules governing finance previously adopted and moved to basic accounting practices which did not disclose at any point in time up to 2020 the real situation. The first indication a problem existed was in the proposed SRV for swimming pools in 2019. It became apparent the council was 'double dipping' to obtain new funds to subsidise existing commitments.
From that time on council has moved funds around to meet a growing deficit.
Councillors Nadin and Bain called for a forensic audit (trace the money) and the current mayor convinced that council to conduct a baseline audit which simply delayed the present "insolvency position". The financial planning documents in 2021 indicated a possible 5% increase for each of 5 years - that's 25% gradually introduced and not 35% one off.
Even with an administrator, decisions would be made by state government to make the public pay for bad administration.
We do need that forensic audit to establish clearly how we got to where we are and make sure the same people and operational procedures don't continue to operate and continue the same mistakes - while COVID and bushfires contributed, they are all too easily used as a whipping boy and a convenient excuse.
READ ALSO: Ratepayers encouraged to speak up
To even think of a 35% rate rise during the worst economic crisis this country has faced shows exactly how much council cares about residents.
Low income families and pensioners are battling every day to put food on the table and keep their lights on.
You all need to take a serious look at yourselves. It is the mismanagement of funding over many years that has caused this not the residents who fill your coffers.
Before you even think about this ridiculous level of rates to cover your inability to manage the large amount of money we already give you, imagine you were one of the low income earners with a number of children who often skip meals to feed their children and pay the rapidly increasing costs of living.
I doubt seriously if any of you well-nourished well taken care of councillors understand the daily battle to survive. If you did you wouldn't even consider a rate rise of this proportion.
PS. Us pensioners just got a magnificent $32 a fortnight pay rise that wouldn't even put a dent in what you are asking for.
First sell some of the assets purchased that are not financially viable. Also look at staffing cuts and reducing less effective or least desirable services. The $5million office renovations underway seem untimely so cut this cost as much as possible. Finally check a more realistic rate rise.
I think Bega Valley residents would prefer this approach rather than suffering the hardships of the ever increasing cost of living!
I think for starters the council needs to apply/receive funds form the federal and state governments to plug the hole in their finances rather than jump straight into a slug the ratepayers plan.
I for one have not seen any visible display of service improvement in the community or value for money we already pay for rates.
If the federal or state governments can't/won't assist funding what they promised then the whole community needs to pay their share in a broader revenue raising program. Pay parking, fee for service (pools and other community services), faster approval processes for business ventures, reducing staffing costs are but a few suggestions so as a community we are all contributing.
Just another money grab from a council that can't manage money and rely on government grants to do anything. And then can't even manage that money.
The revenue shortfall and proposed 35% rate rise is another punishment for residents and ratepayers.
This shortfall is due to the Liberal state and federal governments savagely cutting local government funding increases over the last decade.
We need our councillors vocally condemning the economic austerity being imposed on BVSC, not attacking ratepayers.
We also need to look at alternatives like increased rates for unoccupied holiday properties and AirBnB properties to increase revenue, not simply going for the easy option of increasing rates again and again. That is unsustainable for the community bearing the brunt of blowout inflation.
Council pretends that its current dire financial circumstances are a result of situations, for example bushfires, beyond its control. However anyone who has watched the council financial circumstances over a number of years knows this is simply pretence.
Their circumstance is a consequence of unaffordable asset purchases, sale of assets below market value and asset improvements which though initiated with state and federal funding inevitable face a funding shortfall that the council picks up the tab for.
All lead to increased interest repayments on loans and further unmet liabilities, attempting to maintain these assets going forward.
The council waxed lyrical about reducing sewerage rates in recognising we pay the highest rates in Australia, yet as a ratepayer this means little when the council gives a little with one hand and takes a lot back with the other.
PR, smoke and mirrors do little to disguise the financial mismanagement that has brought about this situation or the council clear desire to meet its requirements by slugging the golden goose, ratepayers. It seems they see residents as a responsible for their situation (by asking for so much!) while being unwilling to pay more.
I have yet to attend a community meeting were ratepayers have ask for more. Most of us simply want the council to maintain the assets we already had and used.
Until council owes their circumstance and the state government steps in with an administrator we will suffer.
Sooner they have an ICAC at Bega Valley Shire Council the better. They over promise and under deliver! Then when the costs blow out (yet again) they just expect the rate payers to foot the bill. Bring on ICAC.
I am appalled at the council's proposal to increase the rates in the Bega Shire. I as most other people are struggling to make ends meet, this 35% increase will add nearly $1000 more to my rates which will take it beyond affordable.
The council should be ashamed. If my husband and I on a measly pension can budget and keep ourselves just above water, why cant the Bega Council.
Something is very wrong here.
I am very concerned about the proposed rise in rates. The cost of living is already out of control at them moment. How you think people will be able to afford this crazy amount is beyond me.
I own an acreage and I pay my rates, but I only seem to get my rubbish picked up, and the dirt road graded every now and then. And as soon as it rains, the road is dangerous again, and stays that way for months.
There are currently trenches over a foot deep up Daisy Hill Road, and no sign of repair. What am I actually paying my rates for? And now you want to charge me even more.
A 5% rate rise is possibly understandable...possibly. But a 35% rate hike is absolutely ridiculous! Please rethink this ridiculous proposal.
BVSC expecting ratepayers to accept a 35% increase to "bail them out", after their mismanagement put them in this situation, is a huge slap in the face.
This has been a big problem since 2016, at least. That is six years that could have been spent mitigating the damage.
There was an audit in 18/19 which found that $6.25 million had been transferred out of the reserve with no record of what it was used for - did they ever find out where that money went? I haven't seen any articles explaining where the missing money went.
Then there was the Hotel Australasia fiasco, projects that haemorrhage money and reap minimal benefit for the community and countless other area's where money could have been saved
Instead of trying to take the easy road of lumping it on ratepayers, why not have a look at their own financial management.
For example, their expenses in 2018/2019 went 60% over budget.
Cost of staff sitting idle on work sites, cost of dodgy infrastructure builds that require constant repairs (roads particularly).
The announcement yesterday showed just how little consideration they have for the ratepayers (and how little idea they have of announcing difficult considerations - they could have released a far more empathetic statement). Consultation was only announced after people reacted badly, a day later.
Get it together or bring in the administrators, do not make us foot the bill for your mismanagement.
Just who are these "council staff" to make this recommendation that councillors vote for a 35% increase in rates?
This council continually mismanages in running the council costs for years - a $10m loss about a year ago - the Eden pub fiasco with its own huge loss and it just goes on year after year.
Look at just how many people actually "work" in that council building, the number of staff - who is actually running this lot?
We have just voted in our new councillors and we are going to see just whose side they really are on. We instill a council and they then become a law unto themselves. Who is really running the show and who actually benefits?
Why is no-one looking how the council mismanages the funds - the monies collected - the rates etc? Never ending!
We should all go back to administration. Absolutely disgusted and I hope this causes a huge backlash to hurt this council staff
Instead of increasing rates try cutting costs and waste. Increase productivity. Cut the fat of directors. Promote economical use of town hall. Stop wasting money on purchasing real estate. Listen to rate payers!
Cannot believe the BVSC has not gone into administration and the current councillors (some long serving and well meaning but obviously lacking any commercial and financial intelligence), and the recently appointed and current CEO and CFO terminated immediately.
The warning signals have been around for a long time and were not addressed by the previous mayor and councillors and now departed ex CEO by continuing to spend more then incoming revenues. A typical liquidation and insolvency scenario.
To have the audacity of suggesting a 35% SRV rate increase which would be increased by the CPI for ever and ever is totally irresponsible and immoral. It is simply incompetent mismanagement.
No amount of Long Term Financial Plans or strategic plans will ever fix the entrenched financial woes the BVSC is in.
You tried a SRV last term for swimming pools when you tried to hoodwink the ratepayers for its justification but was really the Band-Aid you were looking for to fix your corporate and financial mismanagement. Thankfully that was abandoned - not by the then councillors and the then CEO's wisdom and better corporate governance that should have been implemented, but by the bushfires and the current pandemic.
Nothing has been learned. No slashing of costs or cutting of waste or deferral of capital expenditure has been evidenced.
Time to raise the white flag and admit defeat. All of you are not up to the job at hand. It's time to go!
There is no way anyone can put our rates up by that amount and expect people to not be angry. Like most things it should be done in much smaller increments if at all.
Perhaps council could do a stocktake of all projects and how they could be made cheaper and prioritise the most needed not wanted.
To increase rates by 35% is obnoxious to say the least. If swimming pools cost so much money to maintain, charge more at the pool, so at least the people that never use it don't have to foot the bill.
Stop the ridiculous time wasting projects like creating a foot path at Dolphin Cove Tura. They made the worst path with all sharp uneven rocks and then dumped a ton of bad soil that was full of weeds. Now there's continuous weed overgrowth that they have to come and spray all the time. And where does this roundup end up? In the ocean we swim in!
This council is such a bunch of incompetent overpaid paper pushers that do not listen to the public.
With all prices going ip lately do you really think people can afford a 35% rise in rates?
I think all councillors should get a 35% wage reduction.
If this proposed rate hike of 35% passes, what would Bega Valley Shire Council be able to do if every rate payer in the valley simply refused to pay their rates?
This council is an absolute disgrace and it's time for administrators to be brought in.
The proposed rate rise is unjust and will impose a severe burden on families already struggling to pay their mortgages and every day living expenses. Our rates are already over $3000 per year and if we have to pay substantially more we will really struggle.
And we are lucky, having a small mortgage and reasonable incomes. Heaven only knows how those less fortunate than us will pay their rates.
I understand that our council cannot balance its budget, and want more money from us to do so.
My annual income is about $30,000 (net). I do have a budget that I have to stick to to make this cover everything I need, and want. I cannot just keep doing stuff and expect others to give me more money to do so.
Based on my current rates, this 35% increase would mean more than $1000 more on my rate bill.
To give this context, to pay this much more to council, should I stop eating for three months or more, not use any electricity or gas for six or more months, not register my vehicle for the year, or just cut out the few leisure activities I have left.
I budget carefully so I can have food, power, transport, and some left for a bit of leisure.
I would be quite happy for any of our councillors to let me know which bills, (other than rates) I should stop paying to help balance their budget.
The fact is that council has assiduously acquired in the past assets of non incoming producing nature which are simply ornaments (offices, under utilised commercial buildings, libraries, street art etc) with high recurrent expenditure for maintenance and upkeep.
The cost of the shenanigans and mismanagement has been left to be borne by residents and rate payers. What a legacy.
If it's reasonable that waste and recycling are collected once a fortnight each, why not organic waste (FOGO)? That would substantially reduce waste collection costs.
I have worked as a journalist since 2005 and am now Editor of Australian Community Media mastheads in Bega, Merimbula and Eden
I have worked as a journalist since 2005 and am now Editor of Australian Community Media mastheads in Bega, Merimbula and Eden
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.