RISE REJECTED

Colac Otway Shire Councillors have rejected a proposal for a two-per-cent rate rise, instead calling for a rise of just half a per cent.

Colac Otway Shire Councillors have rejected a proposal for a two-per-cent rate rise, instead calling for a rise of just half a per cent.

But the decision came amid division among councillors, whose personal positions ranged from a preference for no rate rise, to one as high as 2.5 per cent.

Cr Chris Smith initially moved a motion for the council to keep rates steady, and to trim $550,000 of staff wages from the budget.

Cr Smith was unable to secure enough votes for his rates freeze, and Cr Kate Hanson instead moved the original recommendation for a two-per-cent rise.

That motion also failed, and Cr Smith moved yet another motion, this time for a 0.5-per-cent rate rise.

This motion succeeded, with councillors Smith, Hanson, Joe McCracken and Jason Schram voting in favour, and councillors Chris Potter, Stephen Hart and Brian Crook voting against it.

Cr Hanson initially argued that a two-per-cent rise was reasonable, but eventually voted for the smaller rise in order to put the budget out for public comment.

Cr Brian Crook said he disagreed with a freeze in rate rises, arguing the council faced rising costs, especially for vital infrastructure.

“It’s quite unbelievable to think that in a climate of rate capping, with a freezing of state and federal financial assistance grants, that any councillor could stand up and propose a zero-per-cent rate rise,” he said.

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