SIGNS have been erected at strategic spots in the Brighton municipality to counter the push for council amalgamations that would have a dramatic impact on the municipality’s ratepayers.
Brighton Councillor Leigh Gray said the signs had been placed to combat the misleading message on signs put up by the group Tasmanians for Reform claiming that local government amalgamation would reduce rates.
Cr Gray said this simplistic claim was not based on fact and for Brighton the reverse would be the case with householders facing significant rate rises.
“For example, rate equalisation as a result of amalgamation under the current proposal to create a greater Hobart council comprising the Brighton, Clarence, Glenorchy, Hobart and Kingborough municipalities would see residential rates in Brighton rise by up to 40 percent,” Cr Gray said.
“Obviously, such an impact on people in our community is unacceptable to the Brighton Council and I believe would be considered unacceptable to all fair-minded Tasmanians.
“As a result, we have developed our own signs to tell the true story that a reduction in commercial rates would lead to rises in household rates.
“Tasmanians for Reform is little more than a front for the Property Council and its campaign is designed to benefit large property owners at the expense of average ratepayers.
“The group is asking Tasmanians to take on faith, the promise of savings never before achieved in any local government amalgamation in this country. Simplistic claims of savings up to 35 percent (with the clear implication that rates will drop by this amount) supported by selective information and rhetoric, provide no basis for sensible decision-making.”
Cr Gray said conversely, Brighton Council had taken advice from Australia’s foremost authority on local government reform, Professor Brian Dollery, the Director of the Centre for Local Government at the University of New England in New South Wales.
“Professor Dollery has pointed out that the reality of recent amalgamations in Queensland and elsewhere in Australia, has actually resulted in increased costs for ratepayers and rising rates, for example an 18 percent increase in household rates in Moreton Bay in Queensland.
“This is little more than a push by big property owners to cut their rates at the expense of average householders.
“Brighton Council is not against local government amalgamation where it can be demonstrated by clear evidence that this benefits ratepayers and our community. However, in this instance, the reverse is clearly the case and I with our Mayor and fellow councillors cannot sit by and allow this impact on our community,” Cr Gray said.