Rates on the agenda for council candidates

Ararat Rural City Council and Northern Grampians Shire Council candidates have struck a balance between promising to deliver better council services and ensuring rates are capped ahead of the 2016 elections.

Most residents in the municipalities should have received their ballots by now and had the chance to think about who they want to represent them on council for the next four years.

With candidate profiles available on the Victorian Electoral Commission website residents must now vote for the open positions available on each council.

What voters should ask themselves is what is the most important issue facing the Ararat and district community?

Rate capping is no doubt a popular policy, which is why so many candidates are often keen to promise keeping rates as low as possible, but there are other things to consider as well.

Rate capping has the potential to affect council’s ability to deliver services.

Many council programs are not delivered by any other organisations with seniors relying particularly on services like the library or Meals on Wheels.

Some candidates promised to ensure rate capping does not affect road quality across the district.

It will be a tough task however.

Successive cuts by state and federal government’s to council’s road budget have made maintaining roads even tougher for regional council’s with large networks to resurface each year.

The heavy rain and flooding across the Grampians region in September and October have only served to make the problem worse.

Pot holes have appeared across the district and it is not just on the smaller roads either. Sections of the Western Highway have also been affected by the harsh weather.

Striking the balance between rate capping and supporting services is a fine line that can be tough to thread.

Attracting industry and jobs was another big agenda item for some candidates. Whether it be through tourism or businesses, council plays a leading role in developing opportunities for wealth to increase in regional towns.

Finally another common theme was local government transparency, but the best chance for residents to decide that direction now lies with their ballot paper.

​- Jeremy Venosta