21 February 2024

Petition against Griffith Council 35 per cent rate hike garners 1000 signatures as residents lobby regulator

| Oliver Jacques
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Two pensioners with a petition

Colin Beaton and Kay Scobie ask Griffith residents to sign their petition at Griffith Central. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

A petition opposing a Griffith City Council push to increase rates by 35 per cent by 2026/27 has garnered more than 1000 signatures.

In October 2023, a majority of councillors voted in favour of a motion to increase rates by much more than the standard annual rate rises – 10.5 per cent in each of the next three years.

Griffith residents have one last chance to prevent such an increase, by appealing directly to the NSW Government regulator, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) – who makes the final decision on whether this rate hike will occur.

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Kay Scobie, who organised the rate hike petition, will send the list of signatures to IPART.

“It shouldn’t be done now while people are doing it tough; there’s no reason for it,” Ms Scobie said.

Pensioner Col Beaton sought support for the petition at Griffith Central shopping mall last Saturday.

“Council says its wages and costs are going up and they have to pass it on,” he said. “But everyone’s costs are going up. The ratepayers, the workers, the families – who do we pass on the costs to?

“We know Council has a hard job; instead of just taking the easy route, I think they should operate smarter. My wife and I have had to look at our budget and cut costs to the bone.

“We understand rates may have to go up, but not by 35 per cent.”

If IPART approves the application, the average household would see their rates go up by $386 in three years’ time, while the average business faces a rate hike of just over $1000.

Alison Egan standing in Leeton park

Alison Egan led a successful campaign against a proposed Leeton rate hike. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Mayor Doug Curran has argued that rising costs and reduced financial assistance by the NSW Government puts Council in a weak financial position, and the rate hike was necessary to avoid cuts in services.

An IPART spokesperson said community consultation on rate hike increases would commence in mid to late February. Residents will be able to provide their feedback via the IPART website over a three-week period.

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Ms Scobie says she wants to see more involvement in the community on this issue.

“In Griffith, the council got just 150 submissions [about our proposed rate increase], but Leeton they got over 900,” she said.

In Leeton, a similar motion to increase rates was voted down by its council, after a strong community campaign against the rate hike led by former council worker Alison Egan.

In Griffith, the motion was passed seven votes to five with Mayor Doug Curran and councillors Jenny Ellis, Shari Blumer, Glen Andreazza, Laurie Testoni, Chris Sutton and Manjit Singh Lally supporting it; while councillors Simon Croce, Dean Zappacosta, Anne Napoli, Melissa Marin and Christine Stead voted against it.

Ms Scobie’s petition against the rate hike can be found at Gannons and Hanwood butcheries, Fred Coles Electrical store, Bakers Delight and the Sugarmill cafe.

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