What do you think about the Council’s proposal to meet these challenges?

over 6 years ago
CLOSED: This map consultation has concluded

That is:

- Special Variation to rates.

- Reviewing the level of services and facilities provided to the community.

- Continuing to build of the efforts of the Council over the last 5 years to become more efficient, innovative and cost effective

- Continuing to look at alternative ways to raise revenue

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  • eyevest over 10 years ago
    Hide reply (1)
    • LEURA over 10 years ago
      We are not in the position to afford any rate rise.

      Our plan was to build a modest house in the Mountains for our retirement, and we were severely financially disadvantaged by delays in council planning approval, and further delays caused by rejection of submitted plans, based on short sighted and idiosyncratic 'interpretation' of planning regulations by council officers.

      The council's misreading of their own bushfire zoning maps, cost further delay and expense in the building of our house.

      We have already seen too much of our money disappear down the council's black hole of arrogance and inefficiency, to cheerfully consider the prospect of a rate rise.
  • doggone over 10 years ago
    Happy to introduce 'user pays' if it maintains and improves amenities in our villages as I use the majority of them as I travel up and down the mountain. However, can you do something about the State Government shifting responsiblity for 'user pays' to ratepayers rather than shouldering their share of the burden. They get money from the Federal government which should be passed onto Councils to assist ratepayers.
  • bwright over 10 years ago
    Raising rates through a special rate variation process is not a long term solution to resolve the infrastructure gap. The rate payers within the Blue Mountains City are already paying for services that they are or are not adequately receiving. Appropriate investment in infrastructure and property development / asset management would in the longer term provide a better income.
  • waratah over 10 years ago
    Acceptable in light of the large range of activities and services provided, and the constraints of living so close to a world hertiage area.
  • Hazelbrook78 over 10 years ago
    In relation to the 'Special Variation to rates', i feel this is unfair and unreasonable. The people of NSW already pay high taxes for just about everything so i don't feel that it is justified. To the other points, it is good the council is looking at these issues but in saying that, it should have always been doing that. Councils should not be given a 'pat on the back' for doing the job they get very well paid for.
    Hide reply (1)
    • lawson18 over 10 years ago
      Yes and with winter coming, what about the electricity price hike.
  • BGVstrategies over 10 years ago
    The proposal is too narrowly conceived. The many delights of the Blue Mountains are enjoyed by ratepayers and visitors alike, yet this proposal, even in its broader conception, is only about asking ratepayers to foot the bill.

    There are many innovative ways in which a greater contribution might be sought from visitors: a modest bed levy (tiered for hotels/motels/B&B and backpacker/van); a modest seat levy for restaruants and food outlets; a modest visitor levy on facilities and attractions (Scenic Railway etc).

    These specific ideas may be rubbish, but other strategies, such as parking fees at Echo Point or the proposed voluntary levy on visitors, are profoundly limited and would achieve very little in comparison. Lets at least have some meaningful discussion about sharing infrastructure costs rather than just taking the easy way out and slugging ratepayers.
    Hide Replies (2)
    • Lawsonite over 10 years ago
      I strongly support consideration of what BGV has written here.
    • Coral Fern over 10 years ago
      I agree with BGV. Slugging ratepayers with a one size fits all rise in rates appears to be a very simplistic approach to the problem. If it came as part of a diverse package of ideas and plans for raising revenue it would be far more acceptable.

      The concept of user pays just has to be addressed - in the case of use of amenities by visitors and as well in uneven investment in mountains communities.

      It also, scarily, does not appear to address long term issues. Why has infrastructure been allowed to run down to this state? are we living beyond our means? Does the rate hike actually solve any problem in the long term? Is it a case of pay now and tie ourselves to facilities and services we cant afford? And why cant the cultural centre self fund?
  • Winmaleeite over 10 years ago
    Having lived in the mountains for 20 years, most of which has been in the suburb of Winmalee, my main concern is whether Council $$$ are distributed fairly across the municipality.

    I'm not unsympathetic with the plight of trying to provide adequate/increased services with diminishing Council $$$, particularly as State government never misses an opportunity to delegate responsibilities downwards to Councils. However, there is a perception in my part of the world that Council bypasses this area in favour of the more "glamorous" upper mountains.

    With the exception of a skate park in recent years, Winmalee/Yellow Rock area, with its large population, is impoverished for facilities - and I don't count the Coles supermarket complex as a Council initiative.

    Over a decade ago Council started curbing and guttering my street. They stopped half way and are still unable to give me an idea of when this job will be completed. In the meantime, we suffer from poor drainage and kerb erosion as a consequence.

    I am happy to pay some increased rate, IF the existing pool of money is appropriately managed and we in the lower end of the mountains get our fair share. Otherwise, forget it.

    I can't help but notice that we pay much higher rates than just about anywhere else in NSW, so perhaps it's time to get some tourist kickback.

    Edit this comment
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    • africa over 10 years ago
      I have to agree with u winmaleeite about council spending more in the "glamorous'" upper mountains. When vandals ruined the Summerhayes kids playground it took a few months before this ammenity was fixed. Another point is being a single parent of two small children hindering me from attending any full time work this sector in your community would not look favourably upon any rate rises especially with the ongoing reserve bank home loan rate rises over the last few months.
  • sick of being silent over 10 years ago
    Maybe the council should just take it's capped increase and spend on what it can afford like everyone else.Why should ratepayers be lining council pockets to cover for bad investments.
    Hide reply (1)
    • rosebug over 10 years ago
      very much agree with this.
  • retired over 10 years ago
    Council seems to forget that many of us have retired and are on a fixed income which, in many cases these days, is subject to lower interest rates. While we have no doubt that rates will increase, so will power bills etc. Therefore any additional levy is to be resisted for the financial difficulties it will impose on us.
    Hide reply (1)
    • pejay over 10 years ago
      I totally agree with 'retired',how are people on a pension going to be able to afford these special rate increases. Yes we do receive small adjustments to our pension but not at the rate being proposed. Either give retirees more relief
      or stop spending so much. Cut back like we have to and manage council expenditure more carefully.
  • Captaincontentious over 10 years ago
    I have heard it said over many years that there is one council employee for every nine residents. I have no idea whether this is entirely accurate but it certainly seems to be fairly close to the money. Watching (again over many years) the "Dad and Dave" style of works programme that seems to operate as a matter of policy here, I can only conclude that we could probably do with somewhat less staff and still do the job adequately (despite councils protestations to the contrary).

    If this rate rise goes ahead (and I honestly believe they are only paying lip service to the democratic process in asking us our opinions of it)maybe it could be done so with a caveat declaring that every dollar raised through increased fees could be matched, dollar for dollar, with a DECREASE in staffing costs. This would have the effect of halving the needed rate rise whilst still providing the same amount of real income, and the associated reduction in staffing costs would continue to provide financial benefits for years into the future. It's simple business accounting (after all this is being sold to us as an accounting issue).

    Of course I fear they will simply put on some more staff to "assess" our comments.
    Hide Replies (2)
    • Insider over 10 years ago
      A more accurate figure is 1 Council employee per 150 residents.
      Hide reply (1)
      • BigMack over 10 years ago
        That equates to the 1 council employee being able to work for 1 resident solely for 1.41 day's a year based on the average council employment structure of a 9 day fortnight and accounting for 1 week of sick leave.
  • Aggie over 10 years ago
    I live in an area of the BMCC which is not within one of the 27 villages or towns mentioned in the the recent letter received from the Mayor.
    The area where I live lies between Bell and Mt Tomah on the Bells Line of Road and is at the furtherest distance within BMCC from most of the infrastructure projects to which the special variation is to be applied.
    I understand that these projects are all important to the more populated areas and I am sure that the buildings, amenities and road improvements are absolutely necessary for these communities both now and into the future.
    However those of us that live "on the other side" of the valley stand to gain very little from the increased rates or the special projects.
    Currently we see little value for our already quite high rates outside a weekly garbage collection and an annual curb side clean up and limited annual chipping service.
    In fact where I live there is no real curbside to speak of. Our local community road is an all weather gravel road that has no proper drainage system so every time it rains the road is badly eroded. We get a lot of rain so this erosion happens very regularly. Discussions with BMCC have highlighted that it costs more to grade a couple of times a year and repair the damage than replace with a sealed road but so far no 'cost saving' by improving the road has been planned and I do not see reference to such expenditure in the special projects list.
    I have no problem contributing to the benefit of the 'greater good'. I am sure most of my current rate payments are going toward supporting BMCC activities located in the villages and towns. So I think those of us living on the north western side outside of these communities are already contributing to facilities etc that we never or rarely use. (My closest BMCC village has very few BMCC provided amenities and is more than 20 km away.)
    There are some very helpful suggestions on this forum for ways to raise funds other than directly through increased rates - a small levy on tourist accommodation as suggested by others has considerable merit. I am sure some other options would be also worth consideration.
    Also surely increased rates could be done in proportion to the number of BMCC projects assigned for each rate payer region? E.G. the more amenities, sports fields, libraries and improved footpaths and kerbs etc in an area the higher the percentage of increase in rates would be assigned to rate payers in that area.
    Surely this would seem a fairer user pays system than a blanket increase.
    I am absolutely in favour of more funds for our Rural Fire Services and Emergency Services. I would be happy to pay the additional $42.80 annual increase to support the provision of these services.
  • emerald over 10 years ago
    This proposal is narrow-minded and lacks imagination.

    As a Heritage area and a world wide tourist destination there needs to be a focus on a user-pays system with added support from business community.
    Perhaps if Council could open lines of communication with small businesses (existing and new)to improve the quality of services and amenities provided instead of drowning them in red tape and taking the easy way out with the big players like Woolworths etc, perhaps then, businesses could also put back into the community.

    Secondly, the State government must account for this "rate-pegging" in less densely populated areas like the mountains by providing greater infrastructure support. Let's face it, we all know NOT to attempt to drive down the mountain on a Sunday afternoon but will this be fixed by digging our heels in and saying NO to a bigger, better or alternative road? Not likely.
    I happily support an increase in our rates in conjunction with other business proposals. But not another slug at our young family and pensioner demographic.
  • Timbeck over 10 years ago
    I've noticed that Council have worded these questions well and not simply put a "should we introduce a special higher levy or not".
    Hide reply (1)
    • jayman over 10 years ago
      Timbeck has hit it spot on!

      The careful avoidance of any negative response; the questions being LOADED towards so-called positive aspects of the use of the extra money raised, which shows clearly its disingenuous approach to the matter of gaining our approval for extra charges.

      The council is actually asking us rate payers to reward them for their appallingly bad fiscal management, in the past, and for the future.

      I say, let us mount a response at the next council election!
  • gregm1999 over 10 years ago
    No, the ratepayers should not have to pay extra, its about time the bmcc realised they have to be more responsible with our rate money, the bmcc needs to learn how to cut costs just like a business and not go looking for the ratepayer all the time they want extra money
  • Jasonr over 10 years ago
    Prior to the collapse of Leehman Brothers, Council had $25M of invested funds most of which were held in CDO's (collaterised Debt Obligations.

    After the collapse of Leehman Brothers, council lost over $15M of these funds. When I approached council in relation to these lost monies, the response was not to write them off as council was still receiving small amounts of income.

    I find it extraordinary that Jenny McAffery can be quiet about rate rises whilst this was all in the news and then a year later demand rate rises for councils due to so called infrastructure requirements.

    Why hasn't council reported these lost funds? why won't council state that they messed their investments up by investing in something they knew nothing about? Why do I have to pay for their incompetence?
    Hide Replies (2)
    • WOODTAIL over 10 years ago
      YES I AGREE with Jasonr.

      Despite the council. cost saving - more than $2million over the last two years.
      They FORGOT to tell you about the HUGE LOSSES
    • jayman over 10 years ago
      SPOT ON JASONR!!!!
      We, as rate payers, should demand an investigation into the council and these funds being mis-managed.
  • meglet over 10 years ago
    The Mayor, Adam Searle, makes a statement as reported by The Gazette which sounds like blackmail to me. Ratepayers have two alternatives: (1) Agree to the huge raise in council rates in order to maintain whatever services we already have, or (2) don’t agree, in which case ratepayers can expect to get less services than already provided - which amounts to next to nothing.

    What can we expect - garbage removal fortnightly instead of weekly?

    Whether ratepayers agree or disagree, I’m sure the councillors will still look after themselves – not so the pensioners and self-funded retirees; where do they stand if there is an increase.
    Hide Replies (2)
    • jayman over 10 years ago
      I AGREE!
      So, meglet,
      all the pensioners and fixed wage retirees should band together and put up their own candidates for election and throw the incompetents responsible out!
    • Coral Fern over 10 years ago
      Good point about our choice. What about 3) ask council for a better idea which includes a range of revenue raising options including ideas for user pays under a transparent five year business plan which nominates major activities and exact investments proposed in each mountains community.
  • Lawsonite over 10 years ago
    I wonder why Blue Mountains City Council aren't shareholders in Southern Phone like so many other Aussie councils are?


    Surely it's a reliable income-producing strategy and better than the income-losing investments?
  • FoBP&MP over 10 years ago
    Friends of Blackheath Pool & Memorial Park is happy to support the proposed rate rise so that BMCC can maintain and develop essential amenities, such as the Blackheath pool, for the well being of the mountains community
    Hide Replies (6)
    • lawson18 over 10 years ago
      For the 'Friends of Blackheath Pool' why don't you charge accordingly? User charges is the answer.
      Hide Replies (2)
      • FoBP&MP over 10 years ago
        Dear lawson18, BMCC introduced charges when the Pool was reopened in 2006 - they are on a par with all BMCC Pools. However, Blackheath Pool is not heated, has fewer hours, and a shorter season. So it’s critical to underscore the unique character of Blackheath Pool as a principally *recreational* facility & charge accordingly.

        Philosophically we're opposed to a user-pays system - we pay rates so Council may provide community services. To us Pools rank with Libraries as essential community services.
        Hide reply (1)
        • bmrapple over 10 years ago
          Dear FoBP&MP,
          I live in Warrimoo 1 hour away from Blackheath and do not use the pool service. Why should I be expected to pay a percentage to maintain/upgrade a public pool which is located 1 hour away from where I live and which I will most likely never use.

          I am not dismissing the usefulness of the pool for local residents, I am simply saying that a user pay system be continued and maybe more community events to attract visitors.
    • FoBP&MP over 10 years ago
      To expand on our comment above - if the rate variation is approved FoBP&MP expects service delivery - including Blackheath Pool - to be not only maintained, but extended.

      FoBP&MP continues to lobby for a Novemeber to March swimming season, with hours from 7AM to 7PM every day, on a par with other similar BMCC outdoors swimming facilities.
      Hide Replies (2)
      • Insider over 10 years ago
        IMO as a Blackheath resident Blackheath Pool is a classic illustration of why Council is struggling financially. The Blackheath climate is completely unsuited to outdoor swimming and there are perfectly adequate facilities 10 minutes and 25 minutes drive away. A vociferous minority puts pressure on local councillors to support an unaffordable, unnecessary cost on Council. BP should have been closed before the latest refurbishment. The reality is that Council and the community can't afford the current number of pools and libraries and until councillors take a less politically pragmatic approach to service duplication we will all continue to pay the price.
        Hide reply (1)
        • BigMack over 10 years ago
          I have to agree strongly here, and I would like to see the feasibility and sustainability report on this one. I would also like to see the budget impact statement. How is it when we build a house in the Blue Mountains we have to study our block of land in minute detail yet council can continually get away with building projects that have little or no revenue stream, high maintenance and staffing costs in area’s where they are unsuitable. I can’t help but think an ice skating rink would have produced greater revenue for lower operating and maintenance costs without changing staffing costs considerably?
  • jayman over 10 years ago
    What do I think?
    How about this....
    if you are trying to gain our (the rate payers and your employers) approval and trust, you might try to find someone who has a better command of english, to wit;

    "Continuing to build of the efforts of the Council over the last 5 years to become more efficient, innovative and cost effective"

    The correct grammatical form should be; continuing to build on the efforts, not "of"!

    This grammatical mistake could be forgiven, if committed by a fourth grader, however, here it indicates the lack of care and incompetence existent in council right now, and they want us to reward them?

    As for "reviewing", why is this needing extra money? This should be a normal part of business!

    And as for;
    "continuing to build on the efforts over the last five years.."

    The council lost MILLIONS OF OUR DOLLARS the last five years, and as such is a damning indictment of council's gross fiscal incompetence and lack of duty of care.

    Who is to blame for the financial bungling?

    Where is the public accountability for our rate funds being lost?

    Who is going to account to the council employers, the rate payers?
  • Norman over 10 years ago
    I disagree with and reject the proposal. Reading the 'fine print', this isn't a once off rate raise - its a 'forever' rate rise (they don't go down again next year). In fact when you compound the *five* consecutive rate rises, it works out to be 31.7%. I very much disagree with this.
  • Norman over 10 years ago
    I disagree with and reject the proposal. The proposed list of services and works are not prioritised for consideration - a mandatory safety / duty of care project is a very different consideration to a (very) optional cultural project. The proposed services and works need revision, with a priority factored in - this hasn't been done. Why is it 'all or nothing' ?
  • Norman over 10 years ago
    I disagree with and reject the proposal. there has been no list of existing projects or services that are being considered for postponement or cancellation. There should be. At the top of the list should be the Katoomba cultural centre. Second on the list should be Springwood redevelopment. Other easy and immediate items - taken from the April 'news from the hill': Nature based recreation; Aquatic systems monitoring and catchment health; Walking track and lookouts management; Cultural organisations register; Review of Springwood community & cultural facilities; Sewage connection encouragement letters (really and truly!! there must be people in council with too little to do); Yeaman bridge work; Climate change conference - and these are only the ones that we have been told about. Doubtless there are countless others.
    Hide Replies (2)
    • Redacted user over 10 years ago
      Add to this list Pedestrian Wayfinding Pylons, Information Columns And fencing for Dog-Off-Leash parks (See the last 10 pages of the Capital Works Program). I would rather a footpath.
    • Coral Fern over 10 years ago
      I agree that there needs to be public scrutiny of the services and projects considered for cancellation but probably would argue about the nomination of those projects to go. The point though I think is well made that there is a frustration in the community about exactly what we are talking about here. It is a huge rate rise and for all those who don't think they get very much benefit in the current situation where is the incentive for support of the rise? nothing from nothing...
  • bobe over 10 years ago
    I support BMCC's approach for a special rate variation.

    Yes, our rates are amongst the highest in the land, and that is the price we pay for living in a World Heritage Park.
    Hide Replies (3)
    • Redacted user over 10 years ago
      Could you please list the costs to Council that are incurred because we are living in a World Heritage Park
      Hide Replies (2)
      • waratah over 10 years ago
        I see two main aspects to answer your question. One is the protection of the environment - weed control, stormwater management, visitor access (public toilets, parking areas walking tracks, signs etc. These would be ongoing costs and very high.

        The other is related more to the fact we are in a regional area. For example, not every council in sydney needs to provide a swimming pool. As residents can easily just hop across to the adjacent council area and use theirs. This Council has to provide 5. Similar for libraries, sport facilities etc. This way the World Heritage area makes us an island.
        Hide reply (1)
        • Redacted user over 10 years ago
          Thanks waratah, but I was hoping for something a bit more detailed. Take walking tracks for example - I would like to know which ones are maintained by Council and which are maintained by NPWS. Lets hope we don't get too many parking areas - like Joni Mitchell sang "you take paradise and put up a parking lot".
  • julie.s over 10 years ago
    What is the council actually doing re expense management? My organisation has been adversely affected by the GFC too and we are cutting all expenses relating to travel, use of external facilities for conferences etc and some bigger projects (IT, marketing etc) have been scaled back or shelved to tighten our spending. We're certainly not asking customers to pay more for our products so we can fund initiatives that half the community don't want! We have to manage with what we have - why can't council?
  • Bettina over 10 years ago
    I reject disapprove of the proposal to increase rates because I think that Council has wasted funds too many times, eg. caving into demands to provide dog off-leash areas. What a shocking waste of money! The only dog off-leash areas should be their owners' backyards. It is NOT the duty of Council to provide for frivolous and potentially dangerous demands such as this one. I'm sure this example is just the tip of the iceberg. Rather than asking ratepayers to bail out Council, examine where money is being wasted and trim accordingly.

    Also, Council should investigate where money can be raised from visiting tourists who use the facilities here - there have been suggestions made in this forum.

    I realise that Council does have huge responsibilities and commitments to provide and maintain facilities but while there is still wastage occurring I cannot support the proposal. Come on, BMCC! Spend judiciously and use creativity and imagination to raise more funds; don't just do the obvious; to slug local residents with a rate hike.
    Hide reply (1)
    • lawson18 over 10 years ago
      Agree! What with all the dogs in the mountains, raise the licence by $2.00 and Council could raise the money in one hit! For some reason, people think it's their God given right to have off-leash areas. I believe dog owners only have to register/licence their dog ONCE! Why not an annual fee for dogs and cats, especially in a World Heritage Park?
  • MikeParker over 10 years ago
    I totally oppose a raise in the rates and especially this “Special Variation”.

    Over the years this council has wasted lots of money on projects not supported by the community.

    The flawed Springwood Revitalisation project has already cost around $300,000 and now that council is starting the community consultation in regard to the community facilities, which it should have done in the first place.

    How much money has been wasted over the last 10 years on the Churchill Street Tennis courts against the public outcry not to sell the land?

    Around $500,000 was wasted on trying to build the Aquatic Centre in Valley Heights.

    I don’t want to think of the amount of money wasted on Katoomba over the last 10 years and what are we getting – some facilities on top of a supermarket!

    And what about the investment in Sub-Prime Loans! What happened to any risk analysis??? I know we can all be wise after the event but investing in things with the names like “Camelot Notes”, sure sounds dodgy to me.

    I say the council has to postpone projects to meet the current budget starting with a political “poll” on the Springwood project. I will address the Springwood issue on the other forum. I just want this Council not to waste any money.

    This is not the right time to propose ANY project which put an additional burden on the Council.

    The Council need to recover the money from the Sub-Prime debacle and balance the budget without increasing rates. Only then should it revisit these major projects and then it should start with seeing what the public want rather that wasting lots on money on consultants and on projects not supported by the public.
  • hoolio over 10 years ago
    Seems the rates go up every year anyway, and we don't seem to get anything more for it. I also object to the fact that nowhere in the information provided by council has there been any mention of the enormous loss of council funds (provided largely by ratepayers) via imprudent investment in the US subprime market and subsequent GFC.
    This information is in the public domain, and council has chosen to ignore this issue of poor money management calling instead for hapless ratepayers to stump up council's depleted coffers so we can meet basic expenses. Insulting!
  • MikeParker over 10 years ago
    The real fear I have with this process is that if the council does not get the rate rise then a lot of necessary projects will be shelved to pay for the Council’s pet projects such as the Katoomba Cultural Centre and the Springwood Revitalisation Project. Please council will you stop wasting money and focus on what the community wants.

    Once the books are balanced, then you can look at larger projects but now is not the time.
  • Mt Victoria over 10 years ago
    I reside in Mt Victoria and over the past 7 years I have seen no value for my rates the towns infrastructure. Where are my rate $ going? The streets are unlit, the roads are potholed, the park is often littered with rubbish, the council has failed to look after the integrity of the upper mountains and yet they want more of my hard earned money to waste and invest in companies that are off-shore! NO Way to any additional increases in rate!!!
  • Medlow over 10 years ago
    I am opposed to the plan to increase our rates. It seems to me that the Council is developing more and more projects as a means to keep more of its people employed. There seems to be no thought that any business has to live within its means and priorities have to be set. This current proposal strikes me as a rather glib attempt to allow the Council to avoid having to do some real economising - it's a case of "Let's get some more money from the ratepayers, 10% should do this time around!"
  • alex over 10 years ago
    Totally opposed to the special variation in rates.
    The info letter that came with my rates notice was misleading and most of the figures did not add up.
    The letter failed to state up front what %rate was applied for as a special variation. All it came up with was a "ballpark" impact statement for an average rate payer(if there is such a thing).
    Most of the letter was focussed on reasons for the extra council funding yet a significant part of the increase was the emergency services charge-there was scant info on the reasons for this and how the money will be spent.
    If the council wanted to fund the extra projects then why not start to cash in the $29 million investement portfolio?

    I really don't think the council has been very successful at trimming costs. $2 million over 2 myears is hardly anything compared to total annual expenditure. I think BMCC can do better in this arena. If there needs to be staff decreases, then so be it. It will give a chance to clear some "dead wood".

    I never underestimate a councils ability to waste money and its inability to spend wisely and efficiently.
  • gum blossom over 10 years ago
    We have lived in the Blue Mountains for nearly thirty years and apart from the collection of refuse in our kerb-side bin, we have experienced very few of the named improvements.

    The 2.6% annual increase in rates levy for council should be adequate for increases in most expenditure faced by council.

    Considering the projects that the requested increase in rates will fund, we suggest that the council lives within its current budget for the foreseeable future, does not extend itself beyond its current means, and services better the people of the Blue Mountains. From Council information, it is not clear whether the special rates variation would lead to an increase of council rates to a higher level beyond five years.

    The argument for raising $20 million over the next five years is inadequate, when Council has not publicly announced the bankruptcy of its financial advisers and subsequent losses in the past two years. Having an investment portfolio of over $29 million dollars is quite an achievement, and I say that tongue-in-cheek, as most people in the council area would not be willing to pay, via rates, towards an investment portfolio for council. We would prefer to see council run as a ‘not for profit’ organisation. Annual financial reports are rarely read by the public at large, as we have faith that ‘the system’ is working when we don’t hear anything derogatory. People who live in the Blue Mountains should not be asked to pay for the losses incurred by council’s inappropriate investments – “…Corsair Kakadu and Torquay (arranged by Lehman Brothers). “These are set up in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands” as mentioned by Robert Stock, reported by Shane Desiatnik in ‘The Blue Mountains Gazette’ on 19th November 2008.

    Our response to the Blue Mountains City Council requesting any increase above the 2.6% annual limit is a resounding NO.
    Hide Replies (3)
    • sandstone over 10 years ago
      I beleieve the council should definately be looking into more ways of cutting their costs, long before looking into increasing them beyond the current 2.6% set by the state government. Just passing in the costs is not the answer. To most of the rate payers they are unable to pass on any of their increased cost of living expences.
      Hide Replies (2)
      • gum blossom over 10 years ago
        We totally agree sandstone.

        I checked with council today, and the rises in council rates are cumulative. At the end of the five years, the rates will be assessed at the new level. It will not be reduced to our current yearly increments of annual rate + 2.6% (forecast for 5 years). Rates will be calculated on the past year's rates + 2.6%; hence quite a substantial rise.

        I'm sorry if I didn't explain it better.
        Hide reply (1)
        • Norman over 10 years ago
          When you compound the numbers, it works out that the rates in five years time will be 31.7% higher than what they are now. Not acceptable. Not even near.
  • MikeJones over 10 years ago
    We are totally opposed to the rate increase.
    in our case whats supposed to be a residential area is in fact a defacto industrial estate. the block next door has nine vehicles on it, eight of which are rusting wrecks.
    The council has done nothing to effectively fix the problem.
    the below ground water main has been replaced with an above ground rubber hose, in short the place is a shambles.
    So much for a city within a national park.
    In sydney i doubt any council would allow a residential block to have 8 unregistered unroadworthy wrecks on it.
    but up here its OK. In our case we should have our rates discounted not increased.
    our views are not that of a residential block within a national park, they are of a wrecking yard full of rusting cars and other refuse. and council want to charge us more for this ?
    get real
  • a9k5a over 10 years ago
    No to a rate rise!
    I would have Council first conduct an internal study to see where they can reduce expenditure - that is what we are having to do in defence where we have a $2 billion cut in a $10 billion budget each year.
    Have you examined your travel budgets, your allowances, your training budgets? What is the cost of maintaining the status-quo? If you suspend new construction for five years, what reduction in administration and support services can be achieved? What is the cost of maintaining existing infrastructure for the equivalent time. You need to do more homework rather than be lazy and say you need more money without having demonstrated that you have exhausted all other options. The rest of us are having to face this reality.
    What plan do you have in place to recover the lost savings or to create new ones?
    Despite claims that the GFC is over, it is not over in the global context - only the mining context in Australia. And that is not what GFC means.
    Maybe you need to be more cautious.

    Again - NO TO THE RATE RISE - Show some financial realism.
  • age-connect over 10 years ago
    It is always difficult to give unqualified support to any government instrumentality for raising additional funds, particularly when real accountability processes are as weak as they are for local government generally.. That said, I'm relucatant, but agreeable to proposal, as long as some real attempt is made to curtail senior management salaries and Councillor expenses as an offset.I particularly like the fact that the opportunity has been provided to make comment on this proposal.
    Hide reply (1)
    • gum blossom over 10 years ago
      I can see your point age-connect, and in principle I agree. However, I would like to see the council take the initiative and reduce spending for twelve months, then come back to the residents, show us the results, and ask for more if still required.

      I can't help thinking we are paying for the losses made in the global credit crunch, however much we are advised that it isn't so.

      It's great to have the opportunity to comment - you are quite right about that.
  • alby over 10 years ago
    This pretense of community consultation is more than somewhat annoying. There is no doubt that should this excuse of a State Government approve your application, then regardless of the mainly opposing views in this forum, it will be initiated. So please stop treating people like idiots! This dash for cash is surely more to do with the totally incompetent way you managed OUR investments. I am a self funded retiree with a passable knowledge of the financial markets, and one thing I learnt many moons ago was that high investment returns equal high risk. I certainly was not prepared to invest my hard earned dollars in the markets you so readily jumped into with the ratepayers' hard earned dollars. You are placing some considerable emphasis on the fact that you have been able to effect $2M in savings over the past two years. Big deal, as a percentage of total turnover it is infinitessimal. There is not one beaurocracy in this country that is anywhere near efficient, so I would suggest that there are many more areas where you could cut costs, before taking the easy option and slugging the ratepayers. One instance was highlighted just yesterday when I received my rate notice, just over one week after receiving the information on this subject. Surely with just a modicum of organisation, one lot of postage and one envelope could have been saved. A small thing, but how many other small things are not given any attention.
  • Jimbo30 over 10 years ago
    Should not be considered. Our rates and taxes are high enough already. Tonight another brochure in the mail on yet another way to waste money with . The BMCC needs to learn to live within it's means, forget trying to be something it is not.
    As others have already stated get back to the user pays principle.
  • Brooklyn over 10 years ago
    I am totally opposed to the special variation in rates over and above the yearly pegged rate. Council's mismanagement of the community's $$ has lead to this situation and I would like to see all the cost efficiency measures Council has put in place to prune their expenses, including pay cuts to the executive. In return I will wait for the cultural facilities offered and the kerb & guttering I have spent the last 20 years without so that basic essential services the community wants and pays for can be provided.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Florczak over 10 years ago
      I comment as a resident of over 30 years. I oppose the special variation to council rates and ask council to consider this advise, "Live within your means" this means that if you cannot afford it, you don't have it. I find this proposal to increase rates as outrageous.
  • Tim119 over 10 years ago
    Council should be run as a business and within budget.Instead of planning to spend money they don't have ,look for savings within the organisation . Try an efficiency audit.
  • Ducks over 10 years ago
    This year we have had large increases in state Water charges, Rural Lands Pasture protection Board and many others, but our wages stay the same. State Water tells us that it needs to raise money to cover it's costs too. We are already paying very high council rates for no direct services here on the outer fringes. These increases are unsustainable and will push many ratepayers to the limit. Council needs to manage it's own affairs within it's budget as the rest of us do.More user pays may help too. The RFS works on volunteer staff. Perhaps that can work in other areas, such as sports,as well.
    I participated in a recent survey (Iris) by the council on this issue and felt this was a waste of time and council funds as it was so fast paced that it was difficult to think fast enough to contribute anything useful. This kind of forum (Have your Say)invites a far more clear and honest feedback without the pressure to perform. We hope you listen.
  • Peter Stephens over 10 years ago
    I disagree with this proposal. If this means that BMCC has to reduce the level of services that it provides then so be it. Personally I feel they waste far to much of ratepayers money on projects and issues that should have no involvement in whatsoever.
  • faulcopete over 10 years ago
    The concept of ‘user pays’ is popular and valid. It can be applied to many aspects of BMCC costs. One that hasn’t been discussed is road maintenance, a large part of council expenditure. Some houses have 3 or more vehicles, some quite large trucks, used daily or even multiple times per day. Other homes have no car, or one that is used occasionally. Even a simplistic rate variation for number and weight of vehicle would distribute the cost more fairly, and perhaps prevent people being forced out of the mountains.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Lawsonite over 10 years ago
      And increase the bureaucracy to police it. How many council inspectors would need to be employed to check the number of cars in each and every household on a regular basis?

      Some costs such as roads, libraries, pools have to be community expenses whether or not you use one or none of them.
  • Great-Scott over 10 years ago
    Although I don't enjoy paying tax (who does?), I agree that council should increase the rates to maintain important services. Most people don't realise how LOW rates are in NSW. I have personal knowledge of a small house on approx. 740 square meters, in a residential area of suburban Brisbane. The rates are almost $2,000 per year! This is almost TWICE as much as we pay for a block of more than 900 square meters, here in the mountains. The council in QLD doesn't provide any special services to justify these charges (and they don't have to deal with bushfires).
    As with everything else, you get what you pay for. If we want decent services, we'll have to pay for them.
  • money over 10 years ago
    I was not asked by any "elected"?? councilor ,for permission to invest my hard earned money in the stock market. I thought it might go towards kerbing & guttering as promised by a ward 3 councilor on her election debut.When is the next overseas "study" trip ,at ratepayers expence?
  • yammy over 10 years ago
    How dare you. Like most families we have had to rationalise our activities why don't you? The community is not an endless source of money for you to waste. We pay over $54.00 per week on your rate and levy charges that is more than enough for any family. We feel you should take a look at what you are doing, why do you employ;
    25 tourism officers, 26 aquatic and fitness officers, 31 environmental and bushland officers, 8 recreation officers, 25 town planners, 35 librarians and 7 corporate strategy officers?
  • Blaxlandite over 10 years ago
    I am totally against any rate rise over the top of the NSW Government's 2.6% accepted level.

    As a Blaxlandite, I have been told by BMCC that my rates will increase from $1,539 to $1,687 (up $148) and then increased above that to 2015.

    Now what do I receive locally for this amount. One garbage service per week, a library that I rarely use, a swimming pool that I never use, two mulching services a year, one throw-out per year.

    What don't I get for this amount. Up to 12 free throw-out services per year like a number of other Councils provide. A clean and tidy town environment -(weeds grow everywhere, leaves block gutters and drains in our streets, take-away rubbish remains uncollected for months on end, road pot holes are not repaired, graffeti is everywhere - street poles, fences, buildings). I really feel ashamed to be living in such an untidy town. Mitchells Pass Road still remains closed and appears not to be reopened - it provides an exit in times of highway blockage, bushfire, and a safer way to Penrith in the rain because Old Bathurst Road is such a danger then.

    Average residential rates in the Warrimoo to Lapstone townships are $1,218.12 according to BMCC advice.

    Average residential rates in the Katoomba & Leura townships are $948.41, and all other townships from Medlow Bath down to Linden are below $985.00. BUT MOST OF THE COUNCIL EXPENDITURE IS IN THE UPPER MOUNTAIN AREAS - SOMETHING IS WRONG!!!!!!!

    If we were put into the Penrith Council area the lower mountains would be much better off with cheaper rates and better services.
  • Blaxland over 10 years ago
    This council has to be kidding, not only should there be no rate increase, our council should be looking at freezing rates and finding ways to reduce them. We are currently paying the highest rates of almost any local government area in NSW. I currently pay $1,500.00 pa for little more than a garbage collection, as I do not use the library, pool or any other council services. As we live in a new subdivision our road/curb/guttering were all paid for by the developer, and subsequently by us as these costs were added to the price of the land. If council disappeared tomorrow the only way we would know about it is our garbage bin would not get emptied.
    To use the excuse that many other councils are in the same position is ridiculous, it just confirms that many councils are irresponsible with handling their budgets, if they were in business they would have gone broke long ago.

    To say it is a one off is also wrong as council owned assets will always require repairs and maintenance, it is a never ending cycle. If council is unable to operate within its budget then they should be sacked for incompetency. Why do you think the State Government limits rate increase each year, it knows that most councils are incompetent money managers and we would all be paying much higher rates if left to their own devices.
    Services should only be provided if they can be funded, council should immediately scrap the sister city program as it does little for the average rate payer and is just a means for councilors and their staff to justify overseas junkets in the name of "cultural exchange" please advise how I have benefited from having a sister city in Japan. The other issue is all rate payers should pay the same amount, why should land value dictate how much you pay in rates, especially for the people of sun valley who's rates are well over $2.000 pa., how do they use more council services than any one else.

    This Council and the NSW Minister for local government be warned if this rate increase goes ahead start looking for new jobs as you will not have your current one after the next election.
  • BigMack over 10 years ago
    I strongly oppose the "Special Variation to rates" as proposed by Blue Mountains City Council.

    I agree with the majority of comments posted here and further add my argument to the forum for consideration by both the Local and State councils.

    I have a young family that requires us to live on a single income, we are faced with a 64% increase in the cost of our power as well as other essential service providers that are claiming that they need to increase costs to cover increasing expenses. These, in my opinion, are more essential services than providing off the leash area’s, building cultural centres, providing 5 swimming centres and even providing new kerb guttering. I would like to see our council recognise these extra burdens that we as rate payers are now having to budget for and thus reduce the services we offer to our own families, or living within our means.

    Base wages on average go up each year by approximately 2%, or approximately $0.40c to $0.50c per hour, so in a very simple feasibility study applying some pretty simple accounting skills I can not see that this increase is sustainable in the foreseeable future, unless of course the wages also receive a “Special Variation to Wages” increase also.

    On top of the cost of essential services increasing it appears that the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia posses an inability to make adjustments and see how they impact the community. They continually make adjustments every month without considering that it takes the banks between 3 and 5 weeks to pass the adjustments on and sometimes another month before loan repayments are due. At least I notice the banks are becoming more efficient at passing the increases on.

    The “user pays” idea has weight and I believe merit, I’m sure it is possible to develop a system where user’s pay and residents receive a discount, I would even be happy to pay for the cost of a “Blue Mountains Resident/Rate payer” card for all of my family to have so as this cost does not become another burden to the already stretched Council Budget.

    Does the council look to raise revenue from 3rd parties and through sponsorships? The cost of Maintaining all our ovals and parks is great, but why not look to have companies sponsor some of these works, offer them advertising space at these venues perhaps?

    Does the council work with Centre Link in assisting with a “Work for the Dole” program, I’m sure that if organised correctly these work groups could take on some of the many tasks that Council delivers, thus freeing time and revenue to deliver the services that they currently do with less strain on the budget.

    I also find it very difficult to support a “Special Variation to rates” when I over hear conversations between independent tradesmen that there is no need to do much work outside of the contracting work they do for council because they can rely on the council employed tradesmen to make mistakes or not have the skills to fix basic problems. This indicates to me that there are issues right across council, from the coalface right up to senior management, and that we as rate payers are carrying a lot of “dead wood” with our hard earned money.

    A “Special Variation to rates” is exactly that, “Special”, and should be reserved for such occasions when it is truly needed, when all other avenues have been exhausted, and not when every other essential service provider is increasing their costs to the end user in a “user pays” system.

    Once again I strongly oppose the “Special Variation to rates” as proposed by Blue Mountains City Council.
  • wfalls36 over 10 years ago
    I strongly disagree with the idea of a special variation to rates. I have to live within my budget, and as a ratepayer and a pensioner I do not see why Council should not live within theirs. If we cannot afford the frills and extras that Council wants, so be it. They should be able to provide us with the basic services that as ratepayers we expect. Let them lobby State and Federal governments for additional funding. What are our State and Federal members doing in this regard.
    Not Happy.
  • Keithm over 10 years ago
    Like almost all others in this forum, I am comprehensively opposed to the proposed rates increase. My reasons are largely covered by other contributors.

    Most importantly though, all concerned parties should note that this forum does not carry any weight and as such your comments and concerns are unlikely to be considered to any degree by council. On one page on the council website appears the following fine print:

    "This (www.bluemountainshaveyoursay.com.au) website is independent of Council. You can browse the information or 'Sign-Up' to provide comments on any aspect of the Draft Plans via the ‘Forum’ section of the webpage. Please note that COMMENTS MADE THROUGH THIS WEBSITE ARE ANONYMOUS AND AS SUCH CANNOT BE CONSIDERED AS A FORMAL PUBLIC SUBMISSION on the draft plans."

    So if you want you voice to be heard you need to lodge a formal submission by downloading the form here:


    and sending it back to the council by email by 5.00pm today. Methinks this may just be another bit of jiggery-pokery by council to engineer a way in which residents’ express concerns can legally be ignored.

    NOT impressed!

    Send in your submissions the “official” way today by 5.00pm and make sure your voice is heard!
  • Redacted user over 10 years ago
    Reading many of the numerous reports on the BMCC website, it seems that Council is often given sound advice that is then ignored because a small group demands a course of action that suits their needs or wishes. Councillors should not be bullied into making unsound and costly decisions just to please a few.