Ratepayers should only pay for what they use

Forum –

I refer to letters from Evan Deas and Joy Cooper about the Council’s bankruptcy matters in Central Coast News, January 15.

These reveal there is both lack of information and of trust amongst us about where Council matters are today and into the future.

Democracy requires honesty, openness and fairness.

Ratepayers can only expect what they pay for.

I believe that most of us are shocked about the parlous state of Council finances and we cannot expect any miracles into the future.

Mr Persson has a mammoth job.

But most of us ask ourselves how did Council get into such a disastrous situation?

Surely those in control could have seen the financial cliff approaching?

Should there be some liability here?

Should councillors hold onto any remuneration and benefits they received when the Council’s financial affairs seem to have been mismanaged?

It seems like the Mascot Towers debacle where the builders earned a lot of money and now no one is responsible for the dire straits that the owners are in.

The overall financial situation of any organisation or person is simple.

If inflows are greater than outflows (over time) all is well; if the converse, problems arise, as in the case when the Council could not pay its bills.

The financial state of any entity is usually obscured by administrative complications and the difference between cash and accrual accounting.

The latter is where creative accounting comes into play and it can become very imaginative and fatal.

Regardless of whatever accrual accounting strategies are used, at the end of the day you still need money in the bank to pay the bills.

I propose that ratepayers be made aware of the true state of finances in a simple summary way by publishing a spreadsheet with complementary notes in a newspaper such as this, as the start of getting community feedback.

The Administrator should not be allowed to pick and choose what information is given to the public as it is the public whose money via rates pays the bills.

The ratepayers deserve to know the critical and basic facts around how their contributed funds are disbursed.

There are some basic services such as garbage, water, sewerage and infrastructure maintenance that have to continue.

However, there are other discretionary services such as Learning and Leisure Centres, swimming pools and gymnasiums which are used by only a part of the rate paying community.

Under the conditions that exist it would seem reasonable for those who use these services to pay the full cost as it is unfair to charge the general ratepayer for services they do not use.

This way rates would only increase to the extent necessary to pay for basic services.

We expect value for our rate payments but we cannot expect to be subsidised by others and those in charge of the money we contribute should be held accountable.

Email Jan 15
Charles Hemmings, Woy Woy