Schier promises return of rates discount
Cairns Mayor Val Schier says a community backlash has prompted a pledge to reintroduce a rates discount if she is re-elected.
Councillor Schier says savings made through recent voluntary redundancies will be used to offset the discount.
She says the council’s decision in 2008 to scrap the incentive, based on financial advice, has been very unpopular.
“There’s been actually a community backlash against that,” she said.
“Now that people are so concerned about the cost of living and the increase in electricity and fuel, they keep on saying to us that they want us to bring back that discount for early payment and I’m proposing that that be a 5 per cent discount that the next council would bring in.”
She says while future rate rises cannot be avoided, the discount for prompt payment can be funded through savings.
“It will cost the council but we do need to remember that we have made some savings, $4 million as a result of the voluntary redundancies that have happened recently and so I’ll be asking council officers to look closely at that to make sure that we can afford it without cutting our services in any way,” she said.
The ‘Unity’ team’s mayoral contender, Bob Manning, says such a move could cost the council more than it can afford.
“I’m not going to go out there and make promises that may be affected by some externalities over which you don’t have control,” he said.
“All I can say is that we will give the lowest possible rate that we can and that will be dependent upon our ability to run a council which is more effective, more efficient.”
He says voters heard similar promises in the 2008 election campaign, which were not kept.
“The then-candidate for the mayoralty but now the current Mayor, Val Schier, made a promise to the people of Cairns there would be no rate increase during the term of her government,” he said.
“So I think any people who are hearing a comment like that ought to cast their mind back to four years ago.”
Mr Manning also says he wants to lead a council that is tougher on crime.
He says his Unity team would consider fast-tracking the rollout of closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras in crime hot spots and boosting security patrols in popular CBD locations.
However, he says the specific details of his policy will depend on talks with police, after the election.
“I don’t think the council wants to take on the job of the police but it needs to be helping the police,” he said.
“So whether that’s done through additional patrolling, whether it’s done through CCTV, whether that’s done through operating hours or what, we need to look at how we can work together to maximise the effort at the lowest possible cost.”
Cr Schier says the council is already spending about $1.5 million a year on security in the city centre.
“Where I would like to go next term of council is for us to actually purchase a mobile CCTV camera so we can actually use it in some of those hot spots that occur from time to time in parks where people start gathering and that’s something that I’d be doing in the next term of council as well,” she said.