'Putting the pressure on': No increase fits the bill for ratepayers

COUNCILLOR Reg Kidd will call for the council to keep water, sewerage and waste rates at the same level for the next 12 months after the dramatic rate hikes of last year unless he can be convinced there is a dire need for extra council revenue.

As discussions among councillors continue ahead of council’s 2015/16 budget, Cr Kidd said he was concerned ratepayers were struggling to keep up with rising rates.

Last year, councillors agreed to increase sewer charges by 10 per cent, waste fees by 5.5 per cent, water charges by 5 per cent and general rates by the 3.4 per cent rate-pegging limit.

The state government has set this year’s rate peg at 2.6 per cent, but the cap only applies to councils’ overall general income leaving them open to increasing other rates.

Cr Kidd said after last year’s “strong hike” he hopes rates can be kept stagnant.

“While I agree wholeheartedly with our fantastic green waste system and the recycling we have, you really have to think at what point is it too much for the ratepayer?” he said.

“Particularly for people who are retired or elderly, electricity prices are going over the moon and its putting the pressure on.”

OUR SAY: HOUSEHOLD BUDGETS FEEL THE PINCH AS RATES COME UNDER SPOTLIGHT

Despite his calls to keep rates stagnant, he acknowledged it was becoming harder for the council to deliver services and maintain assets without increasing rates.

But he hopes now services such as the waste system were in place rate increases could be put on hold.

“Unless I can be convinced that there is an absolute necessity to put them up, I’d like to see them stay the same,” he said.

Cr Kidd said councillors had discussed the budget at two meetings so far, one focused on major priorities including the southern feeder road and the second revising previous budgets.

He expects calls from airport user groups for rates and fees to remain the same to also be a topic up for discussion.

“They want us to reduce the charges at the same time we’re putting in millions of dollars of development,” he said.

While he supports councillor Chris Gryllis’s call to keep airport rates the same until the airport upgrade is complete he said council had to consider the usage and maintenance costs, 

“Whilst it is a public service to ratepayers of Orange not everyone uses the airport,” he said.

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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