By TONY FOSTER
MAYOR OF BRIGHTON
THE current campaign for council amalgamations and the creation of a greater Hobart council, being pushed by the so-called Tasmanians for Reform group (a front for the Property Council), offers nothing for Brighton or its ratepayers.
As such, Council has determined not to support it. We are confident that Brighton is considerable better off under the current arrangements and that we can achieve efficiencies and service improvements by working with other like-minded councils.
While the proponents of amalgamation talk about rate savings of up to 35 percent, to put it quite simply, this is a sham.
Your Council has taken advice from one of Australia’s foremost experts on local government reform, Professor Brian Dollery, the Director of the Centre for Local Government at the University of New England. Professor Dollery advises us that rather than bringing savings for ratepayers, the extra costs of amalgamation actually result in rate increases.
As well, all the efficiencies promised by a larger council can all be achieved through resource sharing and councils joining together to purchase equipment, materials and even services. Brighton is already doing this and it is where real savings can be achieved for all councils.
By contrast rate equalisation in a greater Hobart council would see Brighton’s rates rise by a massive 40 percent.
To put it quite frankly, we will not allow this to occur.
Undoubtedly, the Property Council’s campaign is being driven by the vested interests of the big property owners in central Hobart, who believe they can achieve rate reductions at the expense of average ratepayers.
Brighton will not have any part of this.
Council is not against sensible amalgamation proposals and is all in favour of initiatives that can hold down rate increases and increase efficiency and services to ratepayers.
But we will not accept any proposal that disadvantages Brighton ratepayers and residents, or that ignores our low rate regime and the significant achievements of Brighton over the past decade or so.
We have kept rate rises at or below the increase in the Consumer Price Index for 15 years and are determined to maintain this into the future. We will not allow the current council amalgamation push to threaten this.