AT a public meeting held in Bannockburn last Wednesday evening over 130 ratepayers from the Golden Plains Shire passed a vote of no confidence in the GPS Council.
The meeting, which was also attended by Simon Ramsey State Member of Parliament for Western Victoria, Richard Riordan State Liberal candidate for Polwarth and four GPS Councillors, was addressed by both Presidents and Committee members of the Batesford ratepayers association (BAGPRRA) and Bannockburn based GPS Voice and Action association. The speakers were critical of the way the Shire is being run and the perceived lack of consultation from the Council on local issues. An analysis of the budget showed a lack of transparency in detail and a projection that ratepayers would be paying increased rates of over 7.5% pa every year for the next 5 years with the potential of special charges to be introduced for new council borrowings. This could be in excess of approximately $6.0 million to cover a new office complex for Shire office staff. This will be in addition to the existing borrowings of approximately $19.0 million as detailed in the current Shire budget. The draft proposal for rate capping, handed down by the Essential Services Commission, has set a cap of 4.05% increase pa but Councils can apply for special levies for specific projects. The associations are of the opinion that the current GPS council will, in fact, apply for these levies, thereby increasing rates even further. Ratepayers were advised that the two associations were of the opinion that the only way to ensure that ratepayers received fair value for their increasing rate costs and reduce the level of borrowings, is to remove the current Council at the next election in October next year.. The vote of no confidence in the current Council was unanimous.