- Cassowary Coast Regional Council has the lowest rate rise with no debt
- Douglas Shire has introduced a 2.2% rate rise with a $3.7 million operating deficit
- Broken promises for Douglas voters
The Cassowary Coast Regional Council (CCRC) has kept the 2020 / 2021 rate increase to a modest 1.23% while forecasting a small operating surplus compared to the Douglas Shire Council’s (DSC) rate increase of 2.2% and projected operating deficit of $3.7 million.
Mayor Kerr and Councillors Scomazzon and McKeown, all campaigned on a platform of rates being too high, stating they would seek to improve Council financial management, with Cr Scomazzon quoted as saying rates should be frozen.
However, all voted in favour of the 2020 / 2021 budget last month – effectively passing a budget that does the opposite. The previous term of the Douglas Shire Council saw a rate increase of 1.8% with no debt and small surplus for the 2019 / 2020 financial year. Cr’s Kerr, Scomazzon and McKeown have broken their election promises to Douglas residents by approving a rate increase and burdening ratepayers with millions of dollars of deficit.
There is no excuse given that in these unprecedented economic times, CCRC can produce a budget with a lower rate increase and projected zero debt. Fortunately, Douglas Shire has two councillors, Noli and Zammataro, who voted for no rate increase, strongly advocated for residents and ratepayers, and provided clear and concise arguments regarding their position while offering alternative ideas.
Cr’s Kerr, Scomazzon and McKeown have broken their election promises to Douglas residents by approving a rate increase and burdening ratepayers with millions of dollars of deficit.
CCRC has achieved this result by reducing unnecessary expenditure and council assets, while Douglas looks to acquire questionable assets and increase superfluous expenditure. The loss-making Bally Hooley railway and a run-down swimming pool in Port Douglas will add a further debt burden on ratepayers and residents. Such extraordinary decisions, during unprecedented times, demonstrates gross economic mismanagement from the current Council at a time that calls for measured, prudent expenditure.
The silence of the Douglas Shire Ratepayers Association (DSRA) is extraordinary, questioning whether they are a genuine community organisation representing ratepayers and residents or a partisan political lobby group. The DSRA campaigned loudly against the previous Council who delivered the lowest rate rise in the modern history of the Douglas Shire – 1.8%, and a forecast debt-free Council. Yet, the DSRA has not expressed a similar level of criticism about the current budget. A rate rise higher than last year in a time of crisis, a forecast deficit of $3.7 million, the gratuitous purchase of questionable assets, record capital works, expenditure to create a mini-mall and the potential cessation of access to the north of the river by residents on the 30th of June 2021 has barely been discussed.