OPINION: Call for community to have a say in setting the rates
'Set in Concrete' is the headline for a piece by Mikayla Haupt in the NewsMail.
It is relating to our rates and includes that statement by CEO Steve Johnston.
The actual story is about the massive increase in rural rates but could also apply to all rates issued by this council.
For the uninformed prior to the latest budget the council had requested that all rate-able land values be reviewed by the Valuer General, this was duly carried out and applied to the new budget.
Dealing with the rural rate situation it is understood that land values were increased by 46 percent but the rates on re-valuation were only reduced by 9 percent thus giving the council a windfall of 37 percent.
This windfall is reflected in the capital works proposed to take place most of which are unnecessary considering the current financial situation, other rate sectors were disadvantaged as well, but that is another story.
CEO Johnston, whose responsibility includes the budget, sets the rates and then in concert with the council provides them with pre-budget figures.
This allows him to lay claim to the statement that the council agrees with the budget and passes it when required.
He further claims that once adopted the budget is approved then it is set in concrete and cannot be changed, how convenient is that.
This has to be changed - the CEO has a year to frame a budget and what qualifications in finance do our Councillors have?
As the payment of rates is by us, I ask why don't we have a say in the process before the so-called concrete is poured let alone set?
The argument that we elected the Councillors to represent us falls on deaf ears as the only time that we seem to hear from them is when an election is due.
Why can't the councillors have public meetings to provide us with proposed figures before they rubber stamp the budget?
And for goodness sake review the CEO's powers as being the lord and master does not sit well in this day and age as it was thrown out many a year ago.
Bob Henderson, Sharon