Foley in call for rates referee

A RATES ombudsman remains a viable solution to the annual rates bunfight for Maryborough MP Chris Foley – even after a high level meeting with council officials.

Mr Foley says he has not been dissuaded from the idea of appointing an independent authority to consider the merits of the rates hikes proposed by regional councils at the end of each financial year.

Fraser Coast council CEO Andrew Brien, director of organisational services Lisa Desmond and councillor in charge of economic development Gerard O’Connell met with the Maryborough member after he went public with his proposal.

“We agreed there were some lines of communication we could strengthen so that when people have concerns, Chris can point them in the right direction,” Mr O’Connell said.

He explained that more structured meetings with State and Federal representatives in the Fraser Coast region were planned.

Mr O’Connell said the meeting was arranged to explain why the council had made decisions to increase rates, highlighting the projects it needed to advance.

“We were not defending our position or trying to dissuade him. I would hope he came away from the meeting thinking there are other options apart from the rates ombudsman.”

Mr Foley sympathised with the council position, acknowledging the financial demands foisted on regional councils by amalgamation in 2008.

“That left the council in an invidious position because the only way they can get more money is to raise rates, and there is nothing people hate more than rate rises.

“I told them I’m sick and tired of people coming to my office whinging about the council. We can hardly get any work done because of it.”

“People are frustrated with the amalgamated council and don’t know where to turn.”

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