Fiery meeting expected
FIREWORKS are expected to fly thick and fast when the Valley's councillors front the public in Maclean tonight.
Maclean Chamber of Commerce president John Riggall said he expected 200 people to turn out for the public meeting that will see the council present its draft budget for the next year, including its proposed rating structure.
Mr Riggall said he was irate that in the new structure Maclean businesses would be slugged with a rate increase in excess of 30% over the next four years.
He said the councillors' rhetoric of getting the same sort of properties in Grafton, Maclean and Yamba to pay the same rates did not stand up under close examination.
"They have not compared like with like," Mr Riggall said. "We need shop sizes to be compared to get a true reflection of what's fair.
"The rhetoric is just a cover-up for a political decision from five Grafton councillors to increase rates in Maclean."
Former Maclean Shire councillor Bill Day was equally angry about the council's budget deficit and increases in Maclean's residential rates.
"How dare they put a bud- get out to the community for approval when it's $2 million out of whack," he said.
"How are we supposed to trust the same five councillors who inflicted this rate increase on Maclean to objectively trim expenditure?"
Mayor Richie Williamson said he supported the rating model the council approved earlier this month but emphasised the changes were not set in stone.
"I can't commit to what the final outcome will be because it is on exhibition and the exhibition process is real," Cr Williamson said.
Today's meeting is at 5pm in the Maclean Chambers.