Candidate speaks out over rate cut claims

I HAVE deliberately kept out of the muckraking in these pages because they do little to progress people’s thinking, but I can’t stand by and see statements being made without substance to gain advantage. 

In a Sunraysia Daily article “Rates plan revealed”, the Mildura Residents & Ratepayers Association (MRRA) stated it would axe staff pay rises to enable a rate reduction. 

Other plans include dropping the $100 municipal charge ($2.4 million), cutting expenses ($1.6 million) and no rate rise in 2018/19, which would have been a CPI increase or about 2.5 per cent ($1.73 million). 

It will then decrease rates by 2 per cent each year for the following two years. If the CPI remains at 2.5 per cent, this will equate to an actual decrease in operating capital of 9 per cent over two years ($6.5 million) (estimated). 

Firstly, council employees are signed up to a legally-binding Enterprise Bargaining Agreement, which they fought for. 

They have no legal requirement to re-negotiate their wages down, nor would they be likely to do so. 

The other proposals add up to $12.23 million (estimated), which will be slashed from the council’s operating budget. 

If the MRRA expects you to vote for its candidates on this basis, it needs to tell you what services it will slash to fill this $12.23 million hole. 

A better way would be to reduce staff by natural attrition (no sackings) over four to six years, subject to position analysis­­­ and so reduce the $44 million wages budget. 

They could also work to reduce the impact of the existing $20 million in loans, which are costing us about $1.2 million a year in repayments and interest. 

A full analysis of all council services would also need to be undertaken to ensure we were operating as lean as possible. It will take longer to achieve a rate reduction this way but we will keep our services. 

Simon Clemence,

Mildura Council candidate

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