I will not pay a rate rise and I encourage other ratepayers to do likewise

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I have received the letter from Central Coast Council, signed by Acting CEO Rik Hart, proffering excuses as to why ratepayers are responsible for bailing out Council’s current financial debacle, which is nothing less than arrogance and utter contempt for those in the community that pay rates.

The claim by Administrator Dick Persson that ratepayers are the Council’s shareholders and, as such, the only ones who can possibly get the place out of debt goes beyond the pale and further cements the lack of respect and is an outrageous attempt to hoodwink the community.

No doubt those 50,000-odd aged pensioners and the many more Central Coast households on fixed or low incomes will be heartened to know that they own shares in something.

They may think it a bit odd that they’ve incurred a debt rather than a dividend and own shares in a corporation that gives them no voting rights.

The flaw in Mr Persson’s argument is that the councillors we elected to govern our “Mike Baird-Monster-Council” were treated appallingly by most of their staff.

Many Council resolutions were ignored by staff who appear to have had their own agendas, close ties with developers and very little accountability to their alleged “shareholders”.

Most of them are still in their jobs, now advising Mr Persson.

Mr Persson also claims that he wants residents to have their say about a rate rise with an online survey, yet, despite the fact that most surveys received so far say no to a rate rise, it is Mr Persson’s intention to still proceed.

The online rate survey is nothing less than manipulation and a dishonest attempt at stacking the result.

Mr Persson further claims there are no other options, but I say that he has not explored this fact and has no intention to do so.

Without having to further tax ratepayers, which will have a roll-on effect in the property rental market as well, there are other options that should be considered.

Currently there is about $70M in the Council’s Waste Fund.

If Council reduced the contributions required by ratepayers into this restricted fund and offset them against the “rate rise”, the result would be no out-of-pocket costs, or much less a rate increase to homeowners.

I have also read the recent LG Solutions’ analysis (Chronicle report, p1 Jan 13) which appears to back up the conclusions drawn by DMB Consulting in September and Grant Thornton before them.

According to all three of those consultancy firms, Central Coast Council staff, the internal Audit, Risk and Improvement Committee, the NSW Office of Local Government and the NSW Audit Office have much more to answer for than any of the Central Coast councillors.

What LG Solutions found was, quite frankly, mind boggling and a fact that Mr Persson endeavoured to keep from the community.

With certainty, we now know that the elected councillors were led to believe that they had more money to spend on infrastructure than they really did.

In fact, their staff were spending restricted funds, illegally.

The questions that need to be answered is how and why?

The NSW Government must own up to its failings in this sorry debacle.

The NSW Audit Office and Office of Local Government have failed our community.

It is the NSW Government that failed to detect the problem on one hand while giving developers a one percent contributions cut in Gosford and pocketing two percent of developer contributions for themselves, while taking planning powers away from our local representatives and breaking promises for better funding.

I will not pay a rate rise and I will encourage all other ratepayers to do likewise.

I have successfully championed and led the community, along with others, in campaigns to stop gas mines and coal mines being constructed on the Coast that would adversely impact on our way of life.

Again, I am prepared to lead the community with those other individuals in a campaign to oppose this unfair impost and in doing so, encourage ratepayers to refuse to pay the rate rise.

Email, Jan 22
Alan Hayes OAM, Durren Durren