No special treatment for MP?s rates letter

By CRAIG McTEAR

COFFS Harbour mayor Keith Rhoades says he won't be giving special treatment to local MP Andrew Fraser's submission on the city council's contentious draft management plan.

The member for Coffs Harbour has sent the council a four-page letter 'on behalf of ratepayers' who have contacted him about the proposed 22 per cent rate hike 'required by council to support the plan'.

The council's draft plan lists 16 major projects worth $86.7 million in a city facilities program.

Cr Rhoades, who was due to return to Coffs Harbour yesterday, said from Brisbane on Tuesday he hadn't seen Mr Fraser's submission.

"I'm happy to read his submission in conjunction with all others. I don't think it's fair to single him out," Cr Rhoades said.

Mr Fraser's letter says many ratepayers 'see it as being very ambitious by council to attempt to fund all of these projects under the one draft plan of management in the time frame proposed', and they were 'suspicious of the opportunity for council to further increase rates and charges in future years'.

"It has been further pointed out to me ... that the vast bulk of these (projects) are in the Coffs Harbour city area."

Mr Fraser also goes into bat for farmers, young families and small businesses on the question of rates rises.

"I acknowledge that it is council's desire and, indeed, its responsibility to provide infrastructure which is desired and required by the ratepayers, however, at the same time, as local member, I am aware of the community disquiet relating to the size of the proposed increase in rates ...

"Cost shifting by state and federal governments is a major concern to myself and I appreciate the difficulties it creates for council."

Mr Fraser says he will continue his 'commitment to work with council' to pressure the State Government to meet its original commitment to the Coffs Harbour Regional Water Supply and the council's sewerage strategy.

Cr Rhoades said submissions would be compiled for councillors' perusal ahead next Thursday's council meeting.

He had seen arguments for and against the draft plan but said that wasn't what the issue was about.

"We will be taking into consideration comments from ratepayers and weighing up as a council the best way forward for the city," he said.

"Local Government is the only level of government that goes to the people and asks for input before making a decision."



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