Strelow calls for rates calm as residents fire up

ROCKHAMPTON region Mayor Margaret Strelow is foreshadowing the 2020-21 budget will have a “very modest” impact on ratepayers, despite concerns from residents.

Cr Strelow has called for calm and asked the community to give council “the benefit of the doubt” as councillors work their way through the budget process.

The Mayor was responding to criticism on The Morning Bulletin’s Facebook page about the possible extent of a rates increase.

Concerns first began last week after a council meeting workshopped the option of a 2.5 per cent rates rise; however this was only a preliminary idea.

Cr Strelow emphasised that herself and all of the councillors were committed to ­keeping the rates minimal.

At Tuesday’s meeting Cr Strelow moved to have all budget and rates discussion in open public session however she was only backed by Deputy Mayor Neil Fisher and the vote was lost.

“I am unable to give more detail but my expectation is that this budget will have a very modest if any impact on the vast majority of our ratepayers,” she wrote online.

She said because of the decision to take the budget into workshop, which she did not support, she was unable to offer any more advice.

“Unfortunately I’m not able to tell you,” she said.

“(I) wish there was some way that I could settle everybody down because the angst is totally unnecessary.

“I will be asking councillors for permission to speak to the community about our ­deliberations next council meeting - in a fortnight.

“Remember this budget is not being done the way we normally would. The legislation has changed and I don’t actually get to present the budget the way I have previously done it. We always did workshops – but I had the authority to speak about it because by legislation I was responsible for the budget.

“Now I am effectively gagged because this has been taken to workshop and nothing is happening in open session. I can assure you that all councillors are very much engaged with trying to reduce the impact on our residents.

“The only thing that I can say is that in open session last week we resolved that officers bring back modelling that considers a ‘rates concession to certain rating categories’.

“Please read between the lines and understand that we are planning to mitigate the impacts as much as possible.”

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