Council could bring about rates relief

People are angry about rates. We need an honest and constructive community conversation about how to address this problem. 

According to Know Your Council the average rates bill in Mildura is $1436.85. 

This is higher than the average bill in bigger regional centres such as Ballarat ($1398.30) and Bendigo ($1284.74). It is lower than Horsham ($1594.44) and Wangaratta ($1646.39). 

And it’s about the same as Wodonga ($1426.28) and Greater Shepparton ($1439.41).

Rates can be reduced via financial and structural mechanisms. 

First of all, we can find alternative revenue streams. 

That’s why I have suggested selling advertising space on council assets to the private sector. 

It’s a low-cost, low-risk initiative that helps us raise the money we need, while relieving the rate burden. 

Secondly, we need to reduce our internal spending. 

That’s why I’m prepared to criticise the quantum of executive wages, including the CEO’s wage (which was ratcheted down from $316,000 to $280,000 during this term). 

I’m also prepared to question the necessity of luxuries like sister city trips overseas; and knee-jerk spending on corporate advertising. 

But I’m not prepared to support every cost-saving proposal. For example, I’m reluctant to support the closure of council services, partly because I suspect it’s the most heavily subsidised services (particularly in our small towns) that would be first to go. 

Thirdly, we need to look at structural options such as a formal population growth strategy. 

This could accelerate growth in the number of households across which to share the rate burden. 

As we grow the number of households, each family pays proportionately less over time. 

Fourthly, we need to lobby the State Government to provide financial support to level the playing field between highly populated metropolitan municipalities and sparsely populated rural and regional Council areas. 

With these four mechanisms working together, I believe significant rate relief is possible in the coming term.

Ali Cupper,

Candidate for Mildura Council

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