January 27, 2021

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Douglas Shire Council / Fear halts decision-making for local fee relief

3 min read
A Special Meeting was held this morning Tuesday, 2 June 2020 to adopt Council's Fees and Charges for 2020/2021....

A Special Meeting was held this morning Tuesday, 2 June 2020 to adopt Council’s Fees and Charges for 2020/2021.
The Special Meeting was closed to the public but live-streamed on Council’s Facebook Page.
A Schedule of Fees and Charges for the 2020/2021 financial year was presented to Council for adoption.


Council proposes an increase of 2.2% on fees and charges to come into effect on 1 July 2020.

Cr Zammataro presented an amendment, proposing a freeze on rate increases to support industry and community through the impact of COVID-19 recovery. The motion is supported by Cr Noli as ❝reasonable and to my knowledge the best course forward for this time.❞


With all the information that has been presented, I think this amendment is practical, and ensures that regarding fees and charges, the future is not compromised whilst offering relief when we possibly can to our communities.

Prudent and clever financial management by the previous Council set Douglas up perfectly economically, that is why I know that these fees and charges were already on cost recovery on the expenses. It was this past management that allows for us today for these unforeseen circumstances to be absorbed, and this means Council can weather this year and still ensure that the communities’ needs, wants and desires are adequately and sustainably met.

Interestingly enough, past trends would indicate that the recommended rise of 2.2% does not create an enormous amount of revenue for Council overall but conversely not adding it would offer substantial relief to the family businesses that work hard to survive every year and above all this year.

Cr Abigail Noli

Crs Noli and Zammataro voted in favour of an amendment not to increase fees and charges. Crs McKeown, Scomazzon and Kerr voted against the amendment.


Council’s proposed rates increase comes as a surprise, particularly given Cr Scommazon’s pre-election claim:

“with so many people having lost their jobs we need to look at how Council can help ease the difficulties. Federal and state governments are doing as much as they can, and now it comes down to local government and I think freezing our rates and fees is something we can look at doing to help our community.”

Cr Lisa Scomazzon (1)

Additionally, Mayor Kerr states,

addressing rates and how rates are calculated across the Shire to bring back fairness and balance to ratepayers will be one of my first priorities if elected mayor, and going forward I will ensure Council exhausts all possibilities around revenue-raising before considering increasing future rates above CPI

Cr Michael Kerr (2)

Ironically,

as a ratepayer myself, I believe I speak for many when I say that rates in Douglas are no longer a value-for-money proposition

Cr Michael Kerr (3)

Douglas Shire Council’s proposition is inconsistent with the supportive decision-making of similar Councils such as Mackay Regional Council, who have approved freezes and waivers on rates for business properties, farms and ratepayers who have lost their jobs.

This is a no-brainer at a time like this – our priority needs to be to support the community and support local businesses

Ian Christensen

After seeking advice from CEO Mark Stoermer, the Mayor deferred consideration of the suggested rate increase to a special meeting before the next ordinary Council meeting scheduled for 30 June 2020.

Deferment was unanimous, with a date for the next Special meeting to address Council fees and charges for 2020/2021 to be set.


Watch this space….



(1) https://www.newsport.com.au/2020/march/lisa-scomazzon-eager-to-get-down-to-business-and-get-shire-through-coronavirus/

(2) https://www.michaelkerr.com.au/platform/#1572655021831-30340f07-a4e8

(3) https://www.michaelkerr.com.au/platform/