Mayor unwilling to comment on 2014-15 rates rise

FRASER Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell has been put on the spot but is refusing to rule out ratepayers getting slugged a 7% increase in the coming budget.

The Fraser Coast Regional Council's been in 2014-15 budget talks for sometime already - and it was April last year when the mayor warned rates would rise.

The Chronicle put the question to Cr O'Connell based on this and after some suggestions a 7% increase could be on the cards.

But the Mayor chose not to confirm nor deny the rumour, saying instead it was too soon to know.

"Yes there has been discussions but I can't say what's likely at the moment," Cr O'Connell said.

"Suffice to say it will be in June we'll be looking at bringing our budget.

"We've looked at some drafts...(but) it's too early to say whether rates will go up or down."

Told it was in April last year he announced a rates rise was impending for the 2013-14 budget, the Mayor still would not budge.

He said: "You wouldn't put a figure on it at the moment, what are we now, April-May, so we're a good two months away from firming that up...

"All options are being exaimed. It could be anything, it's premature and to say otherwise is misleading.

"I don't want to do that and I hope no-one else does."

Last year, general rates increased by 6.89%, which reduced to 6.18% when other levies and charges were included in an overall assessment.

Although the council said at the time the majority of ratepayers took advantage of discounts and so faced an increase of 5%.

The Mayor said he and the council were aware of the hardships many homeowners are facing.

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