The Community Environment Network (CEN) has called on Gosford Council to go back to the community to consult on the future use of levy monies.
A motion was put to Gosford Council at the meeting of May 13 that “the income currently raised by each of the Financial Strategy special levies be incorporated in the Ordinary rate from the 2014/15 financial year onwards. This will result in special levies being made obsolete and subsequently removed from the annual rate notice.” Councillors agreed to the motion that will result in the community continuing to pay the levy amounts without any specific purposes identified for these funds. CEN chairman John Asquith said that: “council should consult with the community before making such a change”.
“The special levies were created in 1997 in council’s rating structure to obtain the income for projects such as the Coastal Open Space System, Sportsground Masterplan, Regional Library, Environmental Levy, Erina Town Rate, Terrigal Town Rate, East Gosford Town Rate, Ettalong Town Rate, Umina Town Rate, Woy Woy Town Rate and Avoca Beach Town Rate.” At CEN’s Annual Forum held recently, members unanimously supported a motion expressing grave concern about the failure of councils to implement good environmental policy, restructuring to bring about the loss of environmental expertise and the failure of elected councillors to represent the people in holding councils to account.
“CEN calls on council to ensure that the COSS levy and Environment levy continue for these specific purposes. “The Coastal Open Space System (COSS) is an iconic legacy that ensures that bushland on the ridgelines is protected for future generations.” Mr Asquith concluded by saying that:
“it is clear that council has a responsibility to represent the ratepayers’ interests, as this money was collected for specific purposes for the benefit of the environment of Gosford”. “It would be denial of natural justice if ratepayers were not given the opportunity to have a say on such a change in the use of their money.” CEN encourages ratepayers to write to councillors saying that they want levies for the environment kept.
Media release, 23 Jun 2014
John Asquith, CEN