Studies show amalgamation is not best option for Brighton Rate Rise – no way

BRIGHTON Council will not support the current push for local government amalgamation as it offered nothing for local ratepayers.

Council has questioned the push by the Property Council and other vested interests for council amalgamations and the creation of a so-called greater Hobart council.Brighton Mayor Tony Foster said Brighton Council had determined that it would not accept any proposal that disadvantaged Brighton ratepayers and that ignored the significant achievements of Brighton over the past decade.

Cr Foster said claims of a 35 per cent reduction in rates, driven by the vested interests of the Property Council, was an absolute sham and not supported by facts.

“Our studies show that amalgamation is not the best option for Brighton today or in the future,” Cr Foster said.

“A simple look at the latest experience in Queensland has only served to confirm my view that being swallowed up in a greater Hobart council would not benefit Brighton or its ratepayers.

“Advice from one of Australia’s foremost experts on local government reform, Prof Brian Dollery, director of the Centre for Local Government at the University of New England, is that the reality of recent amalgamations in Queensland and elsewhere in Australia has actually resulted in increased costs for ratepayers and rising rates.

“The costs of the latest council amalgamations in Queensland have reached $184.7 million and growing.

“As an example, in the amalgamation in Moreton Bay on Brisbane’s outskirts, rate equalisation meant that some ratepayers faced increases of 18.1 per cent.

“So who will pay for the costs of the proposed Tasmanian amalgamation – the State Government, the affected councils, or ratepayers?

“One thing is certain, it will not be the vested interests of the Property Council.

“Our data shows that rate equalisation in the proposed greater Hobart council would see Brighton’s rates rise by a massive 40 per cent. This will not be allowed to happen.

“It is unacceptable and I am disappointed to see an organisation like TasCOSS join in a campaign that clearly would harm some of the most disadvantaged people in our community.

“Is TasCOSS chief executive Tony Reidy saying the people of Bridgewater and Gagebrook should pay $300 more for their rates each year just to be part of a greater Hobart council?”

Cr Foster said councils were already able to achieve efficiencies through shared services and purchasing and many were doing this.

Brighton was providing services for a number of councils and achieving significant efficiencies and cost reductions.

“The Property Council’s campaign is being driven by the vested interests of the property barons who foolishly believe they will get rate reductions on their big office blocks in Hobart, and they’ve captured others on a false promise of 35 per cent savings,” Cr Foster said.

“However, Brighton Council 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.

“Any individual or organisation promoting or forcing such an amalgamation will have a real fight on their hands, not only from Council but our community as well.”