AN unwillingness by farmers on previous councils to lift rates has left Federation Council needing to adopt a plan which flags rate rises totalling 60 per cent over four years, a councillor says.
Gail Law slammed the approach of past Corowa councillors after up to 200 frustrated ratepayers gathered outside Federation Council's head office on Tuesday morning to show their frustration at budget plans.
A rate rise of 2.5 per cent will apply for the coming financial year but in the four following years increases of 19 per cent, 17 per cent, 14 per cent and 10 per cent have been proposed via special rate variations which would require approval from an independent tribunal.
Mr Bott told councillors those rises were "unaffordable and unachievable".
He called on the council to have an independent external review to address "accountability, financial responsibility and operational delivery performance and efficiency issues".
Cr Law replied to Mr Bott by saying Federation was one of the lowest rating NSW councils because Corowa Shire councillors, who were farmers, decided that group couldn't afford an increase.
"Mr Bott said 'we need strong leadership', his father was in our strong leadership when we were one of the lowest rated councils and could have raised our rates and we didn't," Cr Law said.
"He talks that we must do things fit for purpose, well the farmers need to do things fit for purpose as well, what's the point of driving a B-double truck down a gravel road in wet conditions when the road is not fit for it.
"Why not take three three loads in a small truck?
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"I know that farmers are running a business, but council has to run too.
"If the rate rise is stopped at 2.5 per cent, and everything else is going up five, seven, eight per cent how can council get ahead....we'll be going...further backwards."
Other councillors also spoke in favour of further increasing rates, Andrew Kennedy saying his building business was suffering with economic pressures and would be hurt by the move "but someone's just got to do it".
Mayor Pat Bourke said hearing about ambulances struggling to attend emergencies because of the poor state of the council's rural roads was a determining factor in him supporting the rate rises.
He blamed a lack of government funding for the council's financial plight, saying "we're getting four per cent of the tax dollar and doing 25 per cent of the work".
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