The State Government’s plan to cap council rates is approaching its final hurdle, with the matter expected to be debated in the Upper House in the coming months.
But the concept still contains many unknowns which are causing angst among those in the local government sector.
While rate capping has been welcomed by many ratepayers, SA councils have been left questioning how they will satisfy residents’ needs without the autonomy to raise the needed revenue.
Many councils are concerned the cap will result in more red tape, cuts to services and a backlog of infrastructure projects. Experiences interstate seem to validate these concerns.
Before the plan is adopted, the fears of councils should be considered and addressed, more details released and safeguards implemented to ensure equity for all councils, especially those in high growth or regional areas.
If the Government is determined to pursue the plan, a review period should be included to assess whether it has provided the promised financial relief for ratepayers and at what cost to council services and infrastructure.
Speed zone cuts
Drive through Mt Barker’s town centre on any given week day and your car’s speedometer would struggle to nudge past 40km/h.
The CBD has become so busy that reaching its maximum speed limit of 50km/h seems almost impossible.
Increasing traffic and pedestrians, along with the growing number of pedestrian crossing points, have combined to slow down the pace of motorists.
So the Mt Barker Council’s bid to have the limit formally changed to 40km/h is really just following an existing trend.
Its decision to seek speed limit reductions on several other roads is another indicator of the impact that growth is having on the town.
Many roads on Mt Barker’s outskirts were comfortable 80km/h zones. Now there are more cars and trucks using these routes, including many servicing or accessing the new housing estates.
This has led to a conflict where an increasing number of high-speed vehicles meet cars and trucks trying to exit their properties.
It is only a matter of time before these limits will need to be cut too, in order to prevent a road tragedy.