Georges River rates hike angst

Decision time: Georges River Council has said future projects such as upgrades to sporting fields and public spaces can not be delivered unless it can increase income.
Decision time: Georges River Council has said future projects such as upgrades to sporting fields and public spaces can not be delivered unless it can increase income.

Re the article "Council faces $20M deficit" (Leader, October 9).

So Georges River Council is going to try and ram through a 10.6 per cent rate hike.

The feedback forms received by some this week are a charade, it just a means of breaking the news progressively and putting some spin on it by pretending it is a compromise on the 22.3 per cent increase they really wanted.

Inflation and wages growth are next to nothing, self-funded retiree incomes are collapsing with interest rates evaporating and council has supposedly banked a whole lot of ongoing cost saving through the elimination of duplication with the merger of Kogarah and Hurstville councils but still can't manage our funds with the maximum rate increase of 2.6 per cent issued by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal.

Is council so out of touch, so focused on non-essential but highly visible capital works that are monuments to their own tenure, so bereft of leadership, that they need to ask rate payers if they would like a 22.3% or even a 10.6 per cent rate increase?

Households are having to economise and make difficult choices, council needs to do likewise, even the 3.3 per cent increase in their feedback form is out of the question, more than inflation and more personal incomes are growing.

We rate payers are angry Georges River has even proposed a 10.6 per cent rate grab, and if they proceed, this will be their Franking Credit moment.

Rob Sharp, Oatley

While I commend Georges River Council for their strong effort in gaining community engagement with the proposed rate structures it seems to me the proposition is biased toward a strong increase.

Council shows $56 million spent on Infrastructure and Project Delivery however over the past 18 months or so I have seen suburb signs & quality park facilities come online strongly which suggests this spend is a short term blip rather than an on-going need.

Look for example the slate of Major Projects for 2019/20 they could be delivered over 2-3 years and the financial impact on cash flow softened. Governance is shown at $27.5 million - that suggests a right-sizing approach is long overdue.

Roads are shown as requiring an additional $10 million over the next five years ... which suggest a major expense however that is $2 million a year or just 1.3 per cent of total income - really not a headline, page 1, need-for-change issue I would have thought.

The presentation of the financials is quite limited and a more detailed analysis is required. Buried in the reasons for Option 2 is "this Option is not recommended by council and requires Council to significantly review the services it can deliver" which sounds a good starting point.

Most households I know must work within their budget and still provide for the family and it seems to me that council runs the risk of building temples and precincts to their egos and a more pragmatic approach is needed with payer funds.

John Crookson, Connells Point

Our thanks to the Leader for its updates on proposed rate hikes for Georges River Council. A deficit of $20 million over 10 years equals $2m per year. What a small amount for council administration to cause so much angst amongst our community.

A good way forward would be for the council to cut $3 million from their spending for each of the next 10 years. This is easy. All we need to do is cut back on the sports building projects for a while. Cutting the use of consultants and lawyers to promote council administration and regularly report these costs in council papers itemising the costs to the ratepayer. It is call accountability.

If the council wants to fleece the old Hurstville Council ratepayers they should draw up a rate notice showing what the ratepayers are up for, I can see many of our present councillors being made redundant in September elections next year.

Brian Shaw, St George District Residents Network Inc