Letters to the editor | July 13, 2018

Concern over farm rates

THE recent large increases in the rates of certain councils for farmers is wrong and avoidable.

Many of these increases are unconscionable and unjust.

No one individual or group – whether farmers, shopkeepers or residential properties – should be subject to such.

Even if the increases applied to every tax payer, they would still be wrong and not of good governance.

This is why the state government introduced a 2.25 per cent limit to rate increases.

If councils have found a loophole, their actions are against the spirit of legislation.

There are some associated with local government who claim the fault lies with state legislation, which outlines the method of valuations and rate setting.

However, the legislation only applies to the overall average, not individual cases.

It is true that state legislation regarding municipal rates is medieval and needs revision. However, this doesn't excuse bad decisions.

The rules of a sport may be inadequate, however, they are not an excuse for poor play or loss of a game.

While changing state legislation regarding municipal rates is another topic for another day, the state government would do well to study methods used in England.

They are good and fair – and they were even fairer before a previous government modified them several years ago. 

In this world, most of us start off our budgets with an estimate of expected income and plan our expenditure accordingly.  

I am a member of the first elected Northern Grampians Shire Council after amalgamation.

We faced a 20 per cent to 30 per cent deficit due to previous mistakes in accountancy.

As councillors, we met night after night, reducing expenditure with only ourselves as councillors participating and the chief executive taking notes on our decisions.

No other officers were present. 

The target was achieved with moderate deductions across the board.

We then held a series of meetings throughout the shire, explaining the situation. I did not hear one complaint. 

Jim Anderson, former mayor and councillor, Northern Grampians Shire Council

Support in an emergency

I WAS involved in a car accident on High Street, Ararat on Sunday.

My car was wrecked, but thankfully, myself and my two children walked away without a scratch.

I wish to sincerely thank all the bystanders who selflessly came to our aid – particularly Michelle Harrington, who took a large chunk of time out of her day to care for us and provide shelter and guidance, and Janine and Tony (my apologies if I have recalled or spelt your names incorrectly!) who provided sustenance and company while awaiting our ride, as well as intensive support to the other driver involved. 

Thank you also to the people who called the police (who never turned up), the children who thoughtfully brought us water, and the wonderful tow truck drivers from Harris Towing and Reynolds Towing who were quickly on the scene getting everything organised.

Ararat should be very proud of these fine citizens. 

Special thanks to Mum and Dad for the rescue, if you're reading.

Bonnie McAllister, Soldiers Hill

Race restricts town visit

DURING the Queen's birthday long weekend in June, some of the folk from the "Old Country" were in Ararat to take in some of the local scenic attractions including the picturesque Grampians.

It was suggested that they should have a look at the spectacular view from One Tree Hill.

On arriving at One Tree Hill, it was discovered that the road was closed. 

Making inquiries, it was learned that the road was closed over a three-day period. 

They could not believe that a public road could be closed for that period of time – especially through a state park, to hold a car race. 

One member of the party raised the point that even the world-renowned Tour De France could only close off most areas for several hours at a time.

However, the next day, a couple of the folk – unfortunately without the company of their small disabled child – decided to hike through the bush to the summit of the hill.

They were amazed at the lack of safety features for the race as they were able to cross the unfenced track several times.

And as for the deafening noise that the local residents would have to endure, that would be another story.

A family reunion for the Schultz's has been planned for later this year.

It was to be held in Ararat, but we have decided to hold it in a more serene place like Halls Gap or Stawell.

Hans Schultz, Ararat

Pool closure queried

AS A member of the local community that uses the Ararat indoor swimming pool facilities, I find it disappointing that the toddler pool area has been closed for extensive periods already and still signage remains up that this will be indefinitely. 

What is the issue with the pool? When is the proposed reopening expected to be? 

There is not a lot for young children to do in the town as it is and during the cooler months, this was an activity that could be enjoyed by babies, toddlers and young children.

This is just another community facility not up to scratch. 

Perhaps they should cut the price to get in during the closure of one of the pools.

Sharon Bowen, Ararat

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