Why Elliston council opposes rate capping

Explaining rate capping and what it would mean to our communities can be hard.

For a long time I have been hearing figures from New South Wales and Victorian local government representatives that 40 years of rate capping has made them go backwards to a degree.

They are behind in infrastructure maintenance and it creates a false economy which stifles growth and wage growth.

Last week, I got an email from the Local Government Association that included an article from the retiring mayor of the City of West Torrens, the Hon John Trainer.

Mayor Trainer, who worked as a teacher and Member of State Parliament wrote “rate capping does not mean your actual rates will be capped. It is your rate increase (in theory) that would be capped.

“More precisely, it is the average rate increase as a percentage of the previous year’s rate payment that would be capped.”

Writing about expectations of councils, Mayor Trainer said, “the major expenses are not from extravagant whims, dreamed up to spend your rate money.

“They are all extensive obligations we have to meet to maintain our community, or to satisfy the Local Government Act or to meet the demands of the State Government.”

We all know councils are being asked to do more than roads, rates and rubbish, and mayor Trainer reflects on why councils are so vital to our communities.

He said in today’s less caring world, with declining trust in so many institutions, such as the churches, politicians and the banks, and with declining participation in clubs and organisations, only an active caring council can turn streets into neighbourhoods and suburbs into communities.

No one else even tries to build that community

But as Mr Trainer wrote somehow local government is expected to do it all, despite the state government shifting more tasks onto local councils while imposing more fees.

And now strangling council’s ability to raise the revenue needed for all this to happen.

“Weakening our capacity to build a sense of belonging to a community, of living in a pleasant and safe environment, of having efficient infrastructure and a healthy local economy – these matters should not be irreversibly trifled with for a political stunt.”

KYM CALLAGHAN

Elliston District Council chairman