Newcastle City Council has just issued its 2015-2016 rate notices. Contained therein was a brochure explaining “Your rates”. It states:
In May the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) approved Council’s application to increase its total rate rate income by 8% for a period of 5 years ie 2015/2016 to 2019/2020. This increase includes a rate cap increase of 2.4% for 2015/2016.
This means trhe everage residential rate will increase by approximately $86 in the 2015/2016 year.
The brochure goes on to state that the additional revenue will be used to accelerate trhe completion of projects and substantial reductions in infrastructure. It further cites that facilities, roads, footpaths, sportsgrounds, parks and playgrounds will be in better condition.
What the brochure does not exactly say is that there will be an increase in rates of 8% every year until 2019/2020 meaning that the total rate rise over the next five years will be 46.9%. This is done for obvious reasons. No council wants to state to their ratepayers that they are raising rates by nearly 50%. This of course could be construed as being misleading by not clearly setting out exactly what the rate rises actually are.
Council needs to put in place or improve efficiences in all aspects of its operations to ensure reductions in expenditure. They cannot just expect the ratepayers to continue to fund councils which continue to operate with inefficient, outdated and expensive work practices.
Newcastle Labour councillors have backed a plan to support same-sex marriage, provide more “safe” places for gay and lesbian people and to create a permanent “rainbow pedestrian crossing” in a Newcastle street or park.
While these may be admirable ideals, they would seem to have no place in local government management. Furthermore, while Newcastle Council is proposing a 46.9% rate rise over the next five years, many see this plan as a waste of rate-payers money.
The Newcastle Herald cartoonist, Lewis saw it this way:
The Rainbow Crossing
I don’t often read the literature that accompanies the outlandish annual council rates sent by Newcastle City Council.
But this time I did.
I found this bizarre article contained within “Council News”. It is entitled “Changes to fridge/freezer pick up” and it goes this way:
From 1 June 2013, Council will no longer be collecting fridges and freezers as part of the bulk waste kerbside collection due to the refrigerant gases that can potentially be harmful to the environment if released in an uncontrolled manner.
The article goes on to offer five different ways for the ratepayer to dispose of the unwanted machines, all of which involve the ratepayer doing the removal, rather than Council.
How does the ratepayer removing the old fridges and freezers change the chance of the refrigerant gases escaping from these machines and being harmful to the environment? I would suggest that there would be a greater chance of the release of gases occurring when fridges and freezers moved by people using differing modes of transports from vans to trailers, and any release of gases certainly would be “uncontrolled”.
Council picking up these articles in a van or truck would have a lesser chance of gas escape when handled by professional Council officers.
I suspect the real reason for this move has little to do with the chance of refrigerant gas escape, but more to do with the costs of maintaining the service and the abrogation of their responsibilty to protect the environment.