Fierce debate as council votes to apply for rate rise
NEW Clarence Valley Mayor Jim Simmons has used his casting vote twice to ensure his council applied for a special rate variation.
At Tuesday's council meeting a Mayoral Minute calling for an organisation review of the council and a general manager's report outlining a Fit for the Future Improvement Plan and Special Rate Variation were fiercely debated.
The Mayoral minute ostensibly called for the appointment of a consultant to review the council's organisation, but quickly moved to debate on the SRV.
In his minute the mayor said the council needed make an application for an SRV in case it becomes necessary once the review was completed.
In debate he repeatedly stressed this was not an application for an SRV. He said this could only happen at budget time in June next year.
But for some councillors the SRV was totally off limits.
Councillors Peter Ellem and Greg Clancy said they would not vote in favour of any motion in favour of an SRV.
And Cr Andrew Baker said an SRV was an admission the council was not prepared to do the hard work in balancing the budget.
The voting was Crs Jason Kingsley, Richie Williamson, Arthur Lysaught and Jim Simmons in favour.
Against: Crs Baker, Ellem, Clancy and Debrah Novak.
The debate on the general manager's report covered similar ground.
It was based around a report to council from consultants Morrison Low outlining improvement opportunities available to the council through the Fit for the Future process.
The consultants identified a funding shortfall of $6.6 million, which would require an SRV of 6.5% independent of the rating cap.
As council already has a temporary SRV of 6.5% (including the rate cap) the proposal calls for replacing the existing temporary SRV of 6.5%, that includes the rate cap of 1.8%, with a permanent SRV of 6.5% that excludes the rate cap, bringing the requested rate rise to 4.7%.