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Petition launched to oppose rate rise

A citizen group has begun a petition opposing the 6 per cent rate rise flagged in Campaspe Shire Council’s draft 2014-15 Budget.

RENEE THOMPSON May 21, 2014 7:29am

A petition has been launched to oppose Campaspe Shire's planned rate rise

A citizen group has begun a petition opposing the 6 per cent rate rise flagged in Campaspe Shire Council’s draft 2014-15 Budget.
Campaspe Concerned Citizens, a group who says it is committed to achieving better outcomes for shire residents, created the petition following the draft Budget last week.
The draft Budget was carried by five votes to four at last week’s special Budget meeting. 
Mayor Ian Maddison hailed the draft a ‘‘financially-responsible, balanced and sustainable budget for our community’’.
Former Campaspe Shire councillor and CCC spokesperson Robert Danieli said the group opposed the 6 per cent rate rise on the basis it was not appropriate to raise them beyond the Consumer Price Index.
‘‘Ratepayers cannot afford continually spiralling rate rises,’’ he said.
He said 6 per cent rate rises each year would lead to residents paying double within five or 10 years.
‘‘It is time to act and tell our council that enough is enough.’’
Mr Danieli said another reason the group opposed the 6 per cent rate rise was that people wanting to move to the shire might look at it and see other councils as more viable options.
‘‘We have an ageing population and we want to encourage more people to move here, not leave,’’ he said.
Campaspe Shire’s farm zone rules meant people wanting to build here faced significant hurdles as it was, Mr Danieli said.
‘‘We’re losing people because we have policies which are not friendly to new entrants. Then add increased rates and they will leave,’’ he said.
‘‘If we could encourage more people to stay here and make it a more welcoming shire, that’s a great step in the right direction.’’
He said the group took issue with the independent assessment which council had used to justify this year’s rates increase, saying it ‘‘was a cursory look’’.
He said council could continue to survive without putting rates up by focusing more on the efficiencies of council, including squeezing more out of its capital works program.
‘‘We don’t need a rate rise, there are ways to get better value out of our rates,’’ he said.
‘‘Let’s do it smart and not waste money.’’
He said further cuts in last week’s Federal Budget, as well as those found in the Victorian state Budget recently, only compounded the problem for ratepayers in the shire.
‘‘All households will find things tougher financially given the recently announced austerity measures in the Federal Budget,’’ Mr Danieli said.
‘‘Our State Government will also be looking at other ways to maintain or increase its income, which can only come from business or its citizens, so when we are also hit with spiralling local government rate increases, it is understandable that some people will be unable to make ends meet.’’
He said he hoped the petition would attract ‘‘several thousand’’ signatures.
The group will visit towns across Campaspe to obtain signatures in coming weeks.
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