Ratepayer group tells Coun­cil to ‘lose the levy’

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

“LOSE the levy.” This is the mes­sage to Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil from the newly formed Whit­sun­day Re­gional Ratepay­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (WRRA), whose mem­bers stormed the or­di­nary Coun­cil meet­ing in Bowen last week.

WRRA sec­re­tary John Barnes said in­creases in rates “with lit­tle jus­ti­fi­ca­tion”, the $140 levy and “in­cred­i­ble vari­a­tions in wa­ter charges” had ratepay­ers an­gry and ask­ing ques­tions.

“Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil is demon­strat­ing day af­ter day, poor judge­ment and lack of ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said.

Mr Barnes said the WRRA had formed with the in­ten­tion of unit- ing the “one re­gion”, an aim that was once mayor Jennifer Whit­ney’s elec­tion mantra.

“But what we’ve got is the op­po­site,” he said.

“We’ve got a mayor who just con­tin­ues to look back­wards and we’ve got fi­nan­cials that are put out ev­ery month that are in to­tal con­trast to the last month’s and her state­ments.”

Mr Barnes said the WRRA had writ­ten to the mayor ask­ing her to lose the levy, re-set the wa­ter tar­iff, ex­pe­dite the au­dit­ing of cur­rent fi­nan­cial re­ports, carry out an au­dit of Coun­cil’s em­ploy­ment costs, put a tal­ented and ex­pe­ri­enced man­age­ment team in place and ad­vise what Crime and Mis­con­duct Com- mis­sion (CMC) in­ves­ti­ga­tions were ac­tive.

Cr Whit­ney, who was not present at last week’s Coun­cil meet­ing as she was at Tourism and Events Queens­land’s Des­ti­na­tion Q fo­rum on the Gold Coast, said she was not yet in re­ceipt of the let­ter but that she was happy for the WRRA to seek clar­i­fi­ca­tion on any points.

“We’re go­ing to lose the levy as soon as we can af­ford to do that in con­junc­tion with QTC (Queens­land Trea­sury Cor­po­ra­tion),” she said.

“At this stage the levy is only in place for one year and we’ll see what Coun­cil’s po­si­tion is and re­view it at the next bud­get.”

LOSE THE LEVY: Ratepay­ers protested against the new $140 ma­jor projects levy at last week's Coun­cil meet­ing in Bowen.

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