Letters to the Port Stephens Examiner: August 2

Merger must benefit

This day and age, mergers of companies, businesses and even local government councils are almost inevitable.

Hopefully any merger would be beneficial to all concerned, even if there could be job losses. In all cases, one would hope that the customers will benefit.

I sincerely hope that it would be the case with the proposed merger of Fairfax Media and Nine Network (Examiner, 'Fairfax, Nine announce plan to merge', John McDuling, July 26). In Port Stephens the ratepayers and residents, businesses and the local council will certainly benefit if the Port Stephens Examiner will be maintained in any merger as the outstanding publication of the local government area. Not only it is a well read newspaper, it has for a long long time served as the independent voice of the community.

The management, editor, journalists, photographers, administrative and other staffs, and the printed newspaper, are second to none. I wish you well Port Stephens Examiner.

Ernest To, Medowie

Rate rise needed

What has, in my opinion, been peddled for many years by the publicity gurus at Port Stephens Council might not have been telling us the true financial and infrastructure backlog picture.

ACTION: Residents unsure about a proposed rate rise by Port Stephens Council (councillors pictured) are urged to attend planned community meetings.

ACTION: Residents unsure about a proposed rate rise by Port Stephens Council (councillors pictured) are urged to attend planned community meetings.

Maintenance budgets cut to the bone, basic drainage works overdue, roads need fixing properly and capital works lists amounting to millions of dollars which just don’t happen – unless Council can get a grant.  That has been my close personal observation of our council for about 12 years. All the while, sell off of assets continued. Something tells me that we need a special rate variation (SRV). I just hope that whingers about this attend the information sessions over the next few weeks and make a written submission. Be there at the advertised start time so you have the full picture of what this is all about. Council will not have the final say – IPART will - and not until about May next year.

I have seen queue jumps of major projects waiting in line for years and a $6 million loan for pet projects taken out last year by the previous council.  Please give our new Mayor and council a fair go to make a difference. Their inheritance must have come as quite a shock.

Margaret Wilkinson, Corlette

Go back to drawing board

Port Stephens Council has proposed increasing our rates by approximately 55 – 75 per cent from 2019 over seven years.

Under the Council’s special rate variation proposal, average residential rates would gradually rise by about $580 to $807 per year over the seven year period. Options are for either a 6.5 per cent,7.5 per cent or 8.5 per cent per annum  increase each and every year for the next seven years.

Have any of our local councillors any idea of what your average battler is trying to deal with in terms of cost of living expenses?

Thanks to their state and federal counterparts, people are still trying to cope with the enormous increases in power prices of the last few years. Mortgage interest rates are likely to increase over the next few years, as well. It would seem that Port Stephens rates are lower than surrounding councils and so the council feels it would be a good idea to catch up. If Council had some imagination it would enhance the program of acquiring income-producing assets so as to gradually reduce the burden on ratepayers.

Few residents of Port Stephens are in a position to be able to easily afford the proposed increased council rates. Council should do what residents have to do and live within their means. Most of the proposed projects (e.g. road sealing, public barbecue facilities and cycleways) should be doable by accessing normal revenue sources.

Unless councillors are intent on electoral suicide, I would suggest they go back to the drawing board and devise a more creative solution.

Paul Attard, Nelson Bay