Local business puts challenge to Council aspirants

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Death and taxes are two of life’s inevitable consequences.  How those taxes are used however is a continuing battle between all parties concerned.

A group of 90 local business leaders, farmers, horticulturalists and residents have come together to seek out the view of Council nominees on the level and use of Greater Shepparton City Council rates as a prelude to the election.

Greater Shepparton has one of the highest municipal rates of comparable regional municipalities in Victoria, around 30 percent more than the combined average. The group want to know if the next batch of Councillors will undertake to question why the rates in Greater Shepparton are higher, should they remain higher or what can be done to bring them back in line with other municipalities.

John Anderson, one of the signatories to the letter, said, “The purpose of the letter is to put the position to the Council nominees and ask them how they are going to address this over the next few years.”

“Are there good reasons why they should be maintained?”

Another signatory and perhaps one of the drivers behind the initiative, Jim Andreadis said, “The decisions on the levels of rates and how it is spent is done by the bureaucracy within the Council. We want the Councillors to pose the question, why the disparity exists between other councils. We all accept that they need to be collected however, high rates are having a detrimental effect on business at a time when everyone is suffering.”

“Getting an answer now how incoming Councillors respond will give us and the public the opportunity to make informed decisions at the election.” said Jim.

“We are trying to get a focus on the rates, that will take time,” said Andrew Prentice, another signatory.

“It is good to see the quality of the nominees standing for Council this year, we would like to see them focus on the issue of rates, why are they so high and can they be brought in line with other councils,” said Sam Prentice.

“We would also like them to question are the rates being put to good use or have some aspects been over-inflated?”

On that aspect, Jim Andreadis expressed concern that staffing at the Council was bloated and overcompensated, well above the normal range for the rest of the community. ‘The average package at the Council is in the order of $83K,  well outside  the range of the rest of the community.”

The Council elections will take place on October 24. Plenty of time for the candidates to show their hand.

The letter sent to candidates.

Dear Candidate,

We the undersigned represent a broad cross section of ratepayers in Greater Shepparton.

Our shared concern, regardless of rating category, is the disproportionate amount being levied in this municipality compared to others in our region, and similar municipalities around the state of Victoria.

As a candidate, and a potential future leader of our City, we are asking for your commitment to address these concerns should you be elected.

While we understand that municipalities have differing priorities, variances in services and infrastructure, and differences in rateable properties, there is no clear explanation, or public understanding, as to why rates in Greater Shepparton are over 30 percent higher than the combined average of the comparative councils in the included table.

All rates are disproportionately high; there is little comfort in the data for any ratepayer category.

Ratepayers in Greater Shepparton have a heavier burden imposed on them, but what additional value do ratepayers in each category get for the additional rates they pay by comparison?

This is not a criticism of the current Council, as this situation has developed over time, but the disparity exists, it is irrefutable, and needs to be addressed. We are not expecting an overnight fix, rather, an assurance that consistent and concerted effort will be made towards correcting this situation during your tenure. 

The question for the next group of Councillors is what can be done to remedy this issue?

Collectively, we are concerned that left unchallenged, our rates will continue to increase, and the disparity will worsen. We care about the affordability of Greater Shepparton as a place to live, work, play and invest.

We are seeking a commitment from you to make this issue a priority should you be elected, and we in turn commit to constructively working with you going forward to achieve a better outcome for all.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

John Anderson, Jim & Ange Andreadis, Chris Andreadis, Frank & June Barclay, Greg Beer, Paul Bertoli, Peter Bicknell, Jacob Black, Claudio Borzillo, Scott Butler, Greg Coghlan, John Crawford, Andrew Douglas, Kate Pendergast, Leigh Egan, Jamie Fawcett, Heather Gange, Tom Garrett, Ben Goodall, Butch Goodfellow, Shane Hall, Jo Hanson, Cher Hetherington, Kevin Hicks, Peter Hill, Rhys Holleran, Richard Hovey, Cheryl & David Hunter, Tommy Huppert, David Jobling, Adam Katsoutas, Robin Knaggs, Les John & Arthur Kreskas, Stan Lambrinos, Simon Law, Jennifer Leigh-Darcy, Michelle & Rodney Luscombe, Cam Mangiameli, Michael & Gaye Maroney, Greg Maskell, Terry Masterson, Jon & Tanya Mathieson, Lloyd Mawson, Peter Mawson, Ian McKinnon, Les Mitchell, Jim & Kim Mitropoulos, Helen Moutafis, Ken Muston, Matt Milsome, Joshua Nunan, Jarrod O’Brien, Pat & Jenny O’Connell, Jim O’Connor, Bill O’Kane, Frank Papallo, Cosi Papallo, John Petzke, Gavin Pogue, Andrew Prentice, Sam Prentice, Reg Qemel, Paul Ranson, Mario Rizzeri, Roy Roberts, Peter Robinson, Barry Rossignoli, Ineka Rowe, Nathan Sali, Sath Saranatham, Kaye & Brad Smith, John Starritt, Ron Stewart, John Taig, Alice & Richard Tallis, Andrew Telford, Paul Tsorbaris, Rocky Varapodio, Tony & Sandra Villani, Mark Wheeler, Daina Winch, Rebecca Woolstencroft, Glenn Young, Nick Zurcas.