Citizen’s jury to consider rating strategy options

Posted Thursday 12 April, 03:45pm

Ararat Rural City Council’s Rating Strategy Advisory Group is preparing to present four options for consideration to a citizen’s jury next weekend.

The Group has been working hard for more than four months to formulate a fair and equitable proposed rating strategy that would help shape the 2018/19 Ararat Rural City Council Budget.

Under the unique training and assistance received from Economist, Trevor Koops and guidance from independent chairperson Judy Verlin, the group has finalised a discussion paper which outlines four rating strategy options.

Ararat Rural City Council CEO, Allan Bawden said the economic knowledge of the Group has grown immensely in a short amount of time and that all representatives are to be congratulated for their commitment.

“The group has had a good sense of community all the way through,” he said.

“They have been passionate about the task given to them and their level of commitment has been strong and admirable.

“This has been a brave experiment, it is not something that has been undertaken within this council before, so there have been challenges – partly because of the uniqueness.

“There has been some healthy and respectful debate along the way, but that’s a good thing.”

Four nominated representatives from the Rating Strategy Advisory Group will present to the citizen’s jury on the opening morning.

They will talk about their learnings, challenges and how they came to reach the four options tabled in the discussion paper.

Councillors will also be present for the introduction and opening presentation.

The 25-person jury will then spend a day and a half privately discussing the options available to them.

Sunday afternoon Councillors will return to hear from the jury on their findings from the weekend, including their advice and further recommendations.

Mr Bawden said, the jury selection process was undertaken by the newDemocracy Foundation as an independent group.

“The process of selection was guided by the make-up of Ararat Rural City’s demographic statistics and as such we have a wide mixture of ages, with half the participants being residents within the Ararat township and half from rural communities, of which six have listed agriculture as their primary income,” he said.

“It is a great snapshot of our community and I feel there would be at least one representative on the citizen’s jury that everyone in the Ararat Rural City would be able to relate to as representing them.”

A Special Council Meeting will be held on May 8 to discuss the draft Rating Strategy, Budget and Council Plan.

All three documents will be tabled for 28 days and the public invited to make written submissions.

“At the end of this process we will have more detailed feedback from the community on our rating processes than ever before,” Mr Bawden said.