One-size-fits-all approach ‘won’t work’: councils

LATROBE Valley’s history of resettling new arrivals and refugees will set a positive precedent to welcome those caught up in the Syria and Iraq humanitarian crisis.

The draft Rates Capping and Variation Framework, proposed by the Essential Services Commission, would see one rate cap applied to all councils across Victoria.

Latrobe City, Baw Baw and Wellington shires were among those expressing concerns about the one-size-fits-all approach.

“What works for one council may not work for another,” Baw Baw Shire mayor Debbie Brown said.

“As such, a one-size-fits-all approach to rate capping based on consumer price index is not in the best interests of all communities, particularly with regards to the different needs of metropolitan communities compared to rural ones.”

Wellington Shire mayor Carolyn Crossley agreed and said while Wellington did not oppose the need to constrain rate increases, it had serious concerns about the one rate cap.

“It shows scant concern for the differences between large city councils and smaller regional and rural councils, and has the potential to further divide the level of services enjoyed by those who live in the city as opposed to those of us who live in the country,” Cr Crossley said.

“There is no recognition of regional challenges like transport, extensive road and bridge infrastructure and emergency management issues.”

Latrobe City chief executive Gary Van Driel said Latrobe City shared these concerns, however, the ESC had indicated it would be too difficult and costly to administer different rates across regions.

He said council was confident the ESC could determine whether or not a proposed variation was valid if it was required.

“Latrobe City Council is comfortable that there is a variation process proposed that will enable councils to make submissions where special circumstances exist,” Mr Van Driel said.

“As the intention of rate capping is to control the cost burden on the community, it is the responsibility of Latrobe City Council to focus on providing value for money across all of our services within our approved budget.

“Good planning and good fiscal management will prevent Latrobe City Council from taking on unplanned debt.”