Ratepayers Association responds to ‘assertions’

In his letter (Sunraysia Daily, October 15), Mildura Council candidate Simon Clemence makes a number of assertions regarding the Draft Rates Reduction Strategy presented by Mildura Residents & Ratepayers Association (MRRA).

His assertions are incorrect.

Our plans are to reduce expenditure via a budgeting process that is conservative, measured and to be achieved over the life of the new council. 

This is to be achieved by looking at conventional cost-reduction concepts, as explained in the document.

We do not advocate the cutting of services, as Mr Clemence has claimed.

We have openly acknowledged in the document we have based our plan on council’s own Strategic Resource Plan.

Some of the assumptions in this plan are not quite right in terms of best-practice financial­ management and we have adjusted them accordingly.

As explained, removing the Municipal Charge of $2.7 million, not $2.4 million as reported by Mr Clemence, is to be achieved in the first year. 

In terms of cost to council, it represents 1.8 per cent of council’s total budget for 2016/17. Not much of a “black hole” really, but has been accounted for in expense reduction anyway.

We also make a number of comments regarding council’s Capital Works Budget, which are an important part of the plan, but Mr Clemence seems to have ignored those.

The EBA is a legally-binding document, and we do not advocate breaking any agreement that is binding. But most EBAs can be varied, which is not an unusual business practice and should be explored. 

At the moment, the council will increase wages by 2.5 per cent ongoing while the State Government will impose a rate cap linked to inflation which is about 1 per cent. 

Speaking of inflation, Mr Clemence is again off the mark as the Reserve Bank of Australia’s forecast for inflation is that it will remain about 1-2 per cent for the foreseeable future, and is likely to be lower rather than higher.

We openly welcome comment on our plan because this is the democracy we live in. But please, at least read the document first.

Phil Douglass,

Mildura Council candidate

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