All residents and ratepayers in the Hilltops area should be on high alert because there is a real risk of extraordinary increases in our rates, a long term ratepayer has told the Boorowa News.
The Boorowa News has already reported on the consultation process sponsored by Hilltops Council. The ratepayer said this was an initiative to help inform Councillors of the thinking of the community, or at least of those who attended the meetings.
This process was undertaken to feed into Council's consideration of its budget and the possible application for a special rate variation (SRV).
"We need to be aware that the NSW Regulator has already approved extraordinary rate increases - 64 per cent for Queanbeyan- Palerang (18 per cent each year for three years); and 43.6 per cent for Bega Valley over two years ( 24 per cent in 2023-4 and 19.6 per cent in 2024-5)," he told the News.
As the ratepayer sees it, "communities in the Hilltops council area are already coping with substantial increases in electricity costs, and, if reports are correct, we will also soon face increases of 20-30 per cent in insurance costs. In these matters we have no ability to do anything about price increases."
Everybody with a loan has felt the pain of recent interest rate increases, and these don't look like dropping anytime soon he says - these are also matters beyond our control.
"It is different in the case of increases in Council rates - through our elected Councillors we do have the ability to influence the rates that will be set.
"Council rates affect all households and businesses. Increases must be absorbed by households, and they cannot be passed on by business, including primary producers. In the case of wool and livestock producers 2023 has seen dramatic falls in all prices received, and the drier times are already hurting.
"We cannot control those matters either, but we can do our best try to try to contain rate increases."
He is confident Hilltops councillors would be willing to listen and to pause to consider the impact of rate increases on the whole community - for many it could be the last straw.
"There would be a big risk of more ratepayers falling into arrears - and what good would they be to Council?", he asks.
He concluded by pleading for Councillors to be willing to make hard decisions, and, if necessary to risk unpopularity by prioritising and reducing some services rather than making across the board decisions about rates that would be certain to damage the community and the local economy.
Hilltops Council will next meet on Wednesday, November 22.
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