NOT GOOD ENOUGH: Cr Andrew Baker said the documents explaining the rates proposal were hard to follow.
NOT GOOD ENOUGH: Cr Andrew Baker said the documents explaining the rates proposal were hard to follow.

‘Abysmal’ drafts open to public

A SERIES of draft plans detailing long-term plans for the Clarence Valley will go to the public for comment without the unanimous support of councillors.

On Tuesday Clarence Valley Council held an extraordinary meeting at its Maclean chambers to approve a series of six plans it has drawn up covering community expectations, asset management, rates, workforce management, the delivery program and finances for the next 10 years.

The meeting approved all plans to go to public exhibition on May 9 but debate over a proposal to raise the base rate in the Maclean and Townsend residential and business districts by 5.66% compared to 2.3% and less for the rest of the Valley drew fire from two councillors.

Maclean-based councillor Jim Simmons voted against any of the draft plans based on the 2014-15 rating figures.

Cr Simmons said the 5.66% increase would shift rates in the Valley to Maclean and he was alarmed the percentage increase was 5.66% and the State Government-imposed rate pegging limit was 2.3%.

He compared this to proposed rises of 1.5% for Grafton CBD and South Grafton.

Another Lower River councillor, Andrew Baker, agreed with Cr Simmons about the shift of rates to Maclean but also objected to what he described as a lack of clarity in the documents.

"I will vote against it because this public document, the maps and the explanatory documents are not suitable as documents that explain whatever we're having explained," Cr Baker said.

"This document should be able to explain itself outside the council chamber without the help of staff, mathematicians or whatever. As a document to go on public display it is abysmal."

Mayor Richie Williamson said he had no difficulty understanding the maps and table in the documents.

"The structure of these reports was the subject of three workshops," he said.

"I understand the methodology of them because I was at those workshops."

Cr Williamson said people should not get too excited about percentage increases.

"We need to get back to basics here," he said.

"The average increase seen across farmland and residential areas are in the order of $28, $17 for outside townships and $48 - for a year.

"We don't want to see increases but expenses at the council are on the increase. It's a necessity the burden of rates be spread around."

The plans

 Draft Community Plan

 Draft Rating Structure 2014-15

 Draft Asset Management Strategy 2015-2025

 Draft Workforce Management Strategy 2015-2018

 Draft Delivery Program 2015-17, 2014-15 operational plan including 14/15 revenue policy and budget

 Draft Long Term Financial Plan 2015-2025.

For full details of the plans go to www.clarence.nsw.gov.au



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