It’s time to call a halt to these enormous rates hikes by Ballina Council.
I wonder how many of the councillors actually own their own homes and how many rent. Mayor Wright, Cr Smith, do you pay rates or rent?
Well, I might as well rent instead of own, as my rates now cost me $80 a week for the privilege of living in Ballina Shire, and being on the south side of the river where I get nothing for it.
Every week I have to trundle my wheelie bin 800 metres to the pick up point. The Council makes me repair and maintain 550 metres of public gravel road, yet it licenses its use to the horse ranch for a fee!
I have to slash the grass road verges because the Council employee has been instructed not to mow there. I have got no footpaths south of the river, no sports fields, no pubs, no shops and I have to pay through the nose annually for the use of the ferry to take me to town.
There isn’t even a councillor south of the ferry to look after residents needs since Felschie went.
Where do my rates go? For a start there is the exhorbitant salary being paid to the shire’s general manager which is only a whisker short of what the prime minister gets, not to mention the senior staff who collectively are paid $1 million out of the annual budget.
I don’t swim in the ocean, don’t swim in a public swimming pool, and I am too scared to ride my motorbike to town in case I get skittled.
So where is the ‘user pays’ principle for the swimming pools? I know a previous mayor uses the Alstonville pool, but why am I, a ratepayer who receives no benefit, being asked to pay for other people’s leisure activities?
Look at the great White Elephant of a community centre at Lennox Head where I can play tiddly winks, but that’s about it! No basketball, no baseball, no netball, because someone in Council signed off the design without checking the requirements for proposed activities.
The mayor read a 20-page speech from a plastic folder when he recently opened the Ballina Aero Club building. It was all about ‘spend, spend, spend’ and how the Council was going to construct a new road to the airport which just happens to be right beside the Harvey Norman complex!
Don’t tell me Mr Harvey had a hand in demanding this new road so his development could be more attractive to shoppers and tenants?
Forget the new road to the airport and use the money for the pools instead.
Wigmore Arcade has lost most of its tenants and for the past 18 months only peppercorn rents have been charged to arts and crafts people. The two cafes, Shelleys on the Beach and what was Pelican 181, have been shut for 18 months too.
The loss of rents from commercial activities in Ballina Shire is phenomenal. Wigmore Arcade used to earn us $300,000+ per annum and now it earns us virtually nothing.
Then there’s the whopping power problem at the surf club with generators running in the street to keep it all going.
The council general manager hired a commercial services manager at great cost to handle all the in-house developments, so the Council must keep developing to keep the poor man in a job.
Now let’s look at the airport. Lismore has had a $20 million offer to purchase their airport, so Ballina has to copy cat.
But do we want to sell or rent Ballina airport to a freight company like the large American conglomerate, DHL? Do we want cargo planes coming and going all night while we want to sleep?
Would you want to invest in Ballina Shire and be harrassed like the owners of Seabreeze Caravan Park?
I’ve had the same council staff members out on my place with mobile phone cameras invading my privacy.
It’s about time we held a real ratepayers meeting and thrashed a few of these things out instead of succumbing to yet another rate increase.
We need to start at the top and ask why the general manager was given a pay rise in excess of his contract.
I’ve had my say, now it’s your turn.
Margaret Howes, Empire Vale