Warren Lynam

Council to make hard sell on rates hike in public meeting

THE HARD sell of convincing Clarence Valley residents they must pay more rates for fewer services begins in Maclean this afternoon.

The first of two public meetings to discuss Clarence Valley Council plans to seek a five-year, 8% rate rise in 2016-17, while eliminating a range of community services, will provide a stern test of its salesmanship.

The Maclean and Yamba chambers of commerce have been canvassing members to attend the meeting and the Greater Maclean Community Action Group was forming a war council of its executive yesterday afternoon to formulate its approach.

The Maclean chamber, still reeling from the weekend fire in the CBD which destroyed business in Cameron's Arcade, said it will do its best to marshal members.

Chamber member Denise Worrill said the meeting was important and it was vital to get people to attend, but at the moment their heart was not in it.

"It's hard to be really enthusiastic at the moment," she said.

"It will be interesting to see if we can get our message across. Our view is that business has to live within its means. Why isn't that the same for council?"

Mrs Worrill said council did not seem to understand there was more to selling a rate rise than putting up the numbers.

"I wonder if they take into consideration the ability of businesses and residents to pay," she said.

The secretary of the GMCAG, Ian Saunders, said he was still not sure of the format of the meeting.

"I've been trying to get an idea from council what the format will be," he said.

He said the problem the council faces were just as much structural as economic. "Council needs to tidy its act up," he said. "They've had plenty of time to do it. They need to explain why they've left it so late."

In contrast the Yamba Chamber of Commerce wants to make sure it identifies the services it wants to keep. In an email to members it asked its members to remind council of the importance of the regional art gallery to the community as well as the pools and library.

Council has called the public meetings for Maclean today and Grafton on Thursday.

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