Ratepayers were hit by a double whammy when Central Coast Council confirmed its applications for a 34 per cent water rate hike and an extension of the 15 per cent general rates increase to 10 years (CCN, Oct 1).
This is an extraction of economic rent on a grotesque scale by a monopoly service provider.
IPART rejected a similar application for a 10-year general rate hike just four months ago.
The IPART determination stated very clearly one of the reasons why: “The Council’s proposal to increase its rates…. is inconsistent with its intention to use the Special Variation (SV) funds to repay the loans”.
So, what has changed in just four months?
Council is still demanding an extra $26M a year above rate cap when it only needs $11M a year to repay the loans.
It appears most of the increase – $15M a year – is to fund a recurring budget deficit because the Council cannot control its costs.
Why does this recurring budget deficit exist when rates have been going up every year by inflation or more, and services have been cut?
In a desperate attempt to demonstrate community support for this rate hike the Council is setting up a handpicked ‘community engagement group’.
The intention seems to be to subject this group to Council spin before asking it to choose between rate increases or service cuts.
A false dichotomy confining all the pain to the community whilst ensuring the bureaucracy and their perks remain untouched.
Options to improve efficiency and productivity, which published data suggests are still worse than five years ago, will no doubt not form part of the consultation.
Email, Oct 1
Kevin Brooks, Kincumber