Mayor Peter Walker has defended his absence from a community rally about Goulburn Mulwaree Council's proposed rate hike.
Councillors Bob Kirk, Jason Shepherd, Dan Strickland, Carol James and Michael Prevedello were observers at the Saint Saviour's Common event on Saturday, November 4. It was organised by Goulburn accountant, Nina Dillon, as a protest against the council's proposal to hike rates between 43.5 and 51.2pc, under several options. Ten people spoke at the rally.
"I didn't think it was appropriate for me to go...I believe my presence would have taken the focus away from what people were talking about," he said.
"If I was there I would have been asked to speak. I'm the mayor and the inference would have been different...I don't think it would have added anything but angst."
The mayor said the event could have turned into an "us and them situation" in this circumstance. Instead, he wanted to give it "clear air."
However he told The Post he didn't shy away from any discussion about the proposed rate increase. He said he'd attended every consultation session, had met with Ms Dillon, the Goulburn Chamber of Commerce and many others about their concerns. More meetings are scheduled this week.
"I've made myself available at all times...I go to functions and I'm continually questioned (about the rate increase.) I listen and put my opinion across on why we want to go down this track," Cr Walker said.
"I'm not afraid to discuss and confront it. We're following the process and we'll come back and say whether we're going forward with it or not."
Speaking from a personal perspective, Cr Kirk said after Saturday's rally that nothing aired at the event surprised him.
"I'm well aware of people's thoughts," he said.
"There's a lot of analysis in (council consultant) Morrison Low's report and not everyone has read it....The timing (of the proposed rate rise) couldn't be worse and I understand the community's concerns.
"It weighs on us and we have a fair responsibility. We have to be objective and we will be."
Councillors will decide the matter at their November 21 meeting.
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