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Council changes ‘demand response’

Thursday, 8th May, 2014

Broken Hill Residents’ Association President Russell Gilmour is urging ratepayers to have their say about City Council’s controversial operational plan for the coming year. Broken Hill Residents’ Association President Russell Gilmour is urging ratepayers to have their say about City Council’s controversial operational plan for the coming year.

By Erica Visser

Now is no time for ratepayers to be apathetic, according to the Broken Hill Residents’ Association (BHRA).

City Council endorsed its draft operational plan, along with other documents, last week and it is now taking submissions from the public.

It featured controversial plans to rein in debt and reduce a reliance on the mines by shifting $280,000 in mine rates to the residential sector.

The BHRA has also criticised plans to increase rates by two per cent above the rate peg each year.

President Russell Gilmour spoke with the BDT yesterday about their concerns.

“We are totally not in agreeance with a lot of what’s in (the operational plan),” Mr Gilmour said.

“The shifting of rates shouldn’t be happening. If Council can’t balance their books now, what’s shifting the rates going to do?”

It is argued that the two mines have been paying too much in rates for years but BHRA said that the mine rates were “bonus money” for Council and it needed to make cuts in other places.

“By raising (residential) rates, it’s just going to price us right out of the market.”

Council’s General Manager Therese Manns has agreed to address the group at a 70-minute presentation on Tuesday, May 20 at the Centre for Community.

The public is also invited to attend the meeting at 7.30pm.

Mr Gilmour said it was good of Ms Manns to attend, given she was “ambushed” by one member last time she addressed such a meeting.

However, he said that more direct contact between Council and the association would be welcomed.

“It would’ve been a nice gesture if we had been invited to the media briefing about the budget or been given a copy of the documents.”

Still, he commended Ms Manns on heading a restructure at Council which will see five senior management positions reduced to three.

“It’s a good start but there’s probably a few middle managers who have to go,” Mr Gilmour said.

“We don’t need managers, assistant managers, etcetera. We’re a small community.

“We’re seeing some change but, as I’ve said, we need to get it down below a level to be sustainable.”

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