Meander Valley Council increase rates by 4.46 per cent

After an almost three-hour discussion the Meander Valley Council has voted to raise rates by 4.46 per cent. 

After the council’s original motion at last month’s meeting to raise the rates by 5 per cent failed, council staff reworked the budget and brought a proposed 4.46 per cent rise to the table at Tuesday’s meeting. 

Before voting on the reworked figure, Councillor Andrew Connor reintroduced the original 5 per cent rise, which was again voted down.

Cr Connor said the difference between 4.46 per cent and 5 per cent was “minuscule”, and that a lot of projects were being cut, with not much of a saving for ratepayers. 

Councillor Bob Richardson was the only other councillor to support Cr Connor’s motion, and said the council “probably should be raising rates by 10 per cent”. 

Councillors then further voted down the 4.46 per cent proposal, five to four.

However, the discussion was reignited when mayor Craig Perkins and general manger Martin Gill used a break in the meeting to consult the Local Government Act. 

The item was brought back to the table for further discussion and eventually passed five votes to four.

“I don’t believe this will go anywhere if we keep going around in circles,” deputy mayor Michael Kelly said. 

“Whilst I’m not happy with the rise, for the sake of council, I will change my vote.”

Cr Connor said having the budget back on the table for the third time was a “surprising development”.

“It’s a chance to rethink it properly and build a bridge and get over it,” he said. 

Councillors Perkins, Kelly, Connor, White, Tania King, and Rodney Synfield voted for the rise in the second instance. 

Councillors John Temple, Richardson and Mackenzie voted against the rise. 

The 4.46 per cent rise will be an increase of $34 to each residential property a year. Despite the rise, the council still had the lowest increase in the North, Cr Perkins said. 

He said the council was committed to retaining an underlying budget and has spent a “significant” amount of time reviewing the proposal.