Central Coast Council Administrator Rik Hart continues to defend Gosford’s 42 per cent rate hike with zombie myths – i.e., myths that refuse to die despite the evidence to the contrary (“Central Coast getting a pretty good deal for their rates” CCN305).
First, Hart claims “Gosford residents have been subsidising Wyong residents” through Wyong’s separate pre-merger rate hike.
This is utter nonsense.
Wyong’s rate hike was for its own purposes and had nothing to do with services in Gosford which was then a separate authority.
Every year since then Gosford rates have increased by inflation or more – so rates haven’t fallen nor have services become cheaper through any subsidy.
The only real subsidy that has occurred has been a subsidy from ratepayers to the Council bureaucracy.
The Administrator’s 30 day report shows employee related costs (salaries and other benefits) rising 33 per cent between 2017 and 2020.
That is where the extra rates income has been going.
Mr Hart’s second zombie myth is that Central Coast “still remains one of the lowest in terms of ordinary rates”.
He bases this on a highly selective comparison with a small number of handpicked councils.
The most recent official Government data available, however, shows Central Coast rates well above average – 47th highest out of 128 Councils in NSW.
And Central Coast will undoubtably be much higher on this ladder today given the 15 per cent Special Rate Variation.
Almost certainly upper quartile – so hardly “one of the lowest”.
Mr Hart’s third (and most bizarre) zombie myth is that “Central Coast is getting a pretty good deal for their rates.”
It takes extraordinary chutzpah to say something like that when rates are increasing at the same time as services are being cut.
The root cause of these higher rates and worse services is the Council’s dismal productivity.
Despite having now been here almost 10 months, Mr Hart still hasn’t produced a concrete plan to realise the cost savings from the merger.
Increasing rates and peddling zombie myths obviously comes much easier to him.
Email, Aug 17
Kevin Brooks, Kincumber