Minister steps in to offer Mayor rates advice

THE Local Government Minister has given advice to the Mayor as he weighed in on the Fraser Coast Regional Council's rates rise issue.

Speaking to the Chronicle in Hervey Bay, Local Government Minister David Crisafulli said he was concerned for businesses who faced a 30% rates increase.

"It's concerning for them and that's the most important thing," he said.

"At a time where we are as a state driving costs down for business - to see any increase for business is concerning."

Some rural commercial businesses face a 30% rates increase as the Fraser Coast Regional Council continues to merges rate categories.

The first round of rates notices have hit some of the region's letterboxes.

When asked if he would talk about the issue with Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell, Mr Crisafulli made a suggestion.

"I have already - my advice to the Mayor is to look for savings as the same way that we have as a state.

"The challenge for Fraser Coast is to find their savings and find a way to pass them on to residents and businesses."

Cr O'Connell, on the other hand, said: "We've done that."

He said $15 million had been saved since the council amalgamation in 2008 - and anticipated more in the 2014-15 budget.

"Frankly this particular budget we spent a considerable amount of time looking at it (savings)," he said.

Mr Crisafulli said he wouldn't be interfering with decisions the council made.

"We as a government made a commitment to empower local government to be able to make their own decisions," he said.



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