Cr Fidge denies broken election promise

A PRE-ELECTION pledge to lower rates has not been abandoned by Councillor Julian Fidge.

Cr Fidge made the promise in the lead up to the election, but was unable to keep it when the draft budget, proposing a five per cent rate rise, was released this week.

The rise is on a par with previous increases, and in the draft budget council has predicted rates will stay at five per cent for the next four years.

Cr Fidge said he was still confident his goal would be achieved, though it would take longer than anticipated.

“It’s going to take time to adjust – things were already set up when we got in,” he said.

“I was pushing for a four per cent rise and hopefully we will get that next year, then maybe three per cent the year after.

“I sincerely believe we can lower rates.”

Cr Noel Amery expressed his disappointment at the size of the rate increase, arguing that it should have been closer to CPI, or about three per cent.

“Businesses are doing it tough and wage and salary earners have difficulty in getting a CPI rise.

“Primary producers are taking less for the product in the last financial year than they did in the previous year.

“I believe with new initiatives this council can cut more costs in the future but our state government is dramatically increasing our statutory charges.”

Deputy Mayor Paul O’Brien also spoke to the rate rise, saying five per cent would “be a stretch”.

He explained several of the factors contributing to council’s decision, including paying $3.22m to cover losses in the defined superannuation benefits scheme, and having to pay $550,000 to the Environment Protection Authority.

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