Rate hike

Local pensioners will be subject to a 16.6 per cent increase on Council rates from July 1 this year due to Federal Government’s decision made in 2014 to cut funding for pensioner concessions.
Nanjing Night Net

The specific cost on each pensioner concession entitlement will vary across Council regions however this 16.6 per cent will be the average increase in the Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council for pensioner ratepayers.

The State Government indicated this decision was made based on the Federal Government decision in 2014 to cut funding to State Government under the National Partnership Agreement on Certain Concession Card and Senior Card Holders.

The Local Government Association is working closely with Councils throughout South Australia seeking support towards their campaign to lobby for the reinstatement of the concessions.

Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council CEO, Mr Roy Blight said if the pension concessions weren’t available it would have a significant impact on ratepayers who have received the concession previously.

“Council is keen for Federal and State Governments to resolve their differences over this issue and have the pensioner concession reinstated for the 2015/16 budget,” Mr Blight said.

“If it is to cease from July 1, 2015 it will have an immediate and direct impact on rate payers who have received the pensioner concession.”

Mr Blight said the Local Government Association had been active to have this change overturned and Council have been working closely with them and their campaign.

Within South Australia, the State Government has provided pensioners with a concession of $190 ($100 for self-funded retirees) on Council general rates.

This funding enabled concessions to be paid to pension concession holders for utilities, water and Council rates.

A nationwide cut of $27.7 million saw the State Government fill the funding gap for the 2014/15 financial year, however in the 2015/16 budget, State Government announced concessions on Council rates would cease as of June, 2015.

For the Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council, funding for pensioner concessions on general rates received from the State Government was $170,130 for 957 ratepayer assessments.

At the ordinary meeting of Council held at the Mintaro Institute on Monday night Council moved a recommendation that Council determine to:

1. Not replace the withdrawn Federal and State Government funding for the pensioner concessions.

2. Inform all ratepayers of the cessation of pensioner concession funding from 1 July, 2015 and the impact on eligible pensioners.

3. Seek feedback from ratepayers about options that the Council could consider in responding to the State Government’s decision to abolish the pensioner concession rebate on Council rates.

4. Write to local State and Federal Members of Parliament seeking support for the reinstatement of funding for the pensioner concession rebate on Council.

Council also added a recommendation to the motion that:

5. That Council write to Premier Jay Weatherill and Member for Frome Geoff Brock expressing Councils strong disapproval on the spending of $1.1m of taxpayer funds on a politically motivated advertising campaign on pensioner concessions cuts.

The addition of the fifth recommendation was moved by Councillor Kells and seconded by Councillor Burfitt.

Councillor Calvert and Councillor Schwarz were against the addition of the fifth recommendation with Councillor Schwarz stating it could impact on the relationship between Council, State and Federal Government and make it difficult in the future to source grants.

Councillor Golding spoke in favour of the fifth recommendation stating that the Premier made this a Political issue, not the Council.

Council will now write to Premier Jay Weatherill and Minister for Regional Development, Geoff Brock sharing their strong disapproval regarding the funding cuts to pensioner concessions and work closely with the LGA’s campaign to lobby for its reinstatement.

See next week’s Northern Argus for comments from Senator Sean Edwards and Minister for Regional Development, Geoff Brock on this issue; as well as the response from pensioner ratepayers in the region.

More information on this issue can be found in the Council Agenda and Minutes of the ordinary meeting of Council held on Monday, March 16, 2015.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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