Councillor got it wrong on rent hikes

SHOALHAVEN City Councillor Greg Watson was left with egg on his face after his criticism of the state government backfired.After attacking the state government for increasing the minimum rent charged to local marine rescue bodies, Cr Watson admitted he was surprised by revelations council was trying to increase rent for the Crookhaven Heads base by more than $5000.An assessment for rent that could be charged for the base came in at more than $39,000, however council offered an 86 per cent reduction, taking the rent requested to $5350 – an increase of more than $5000 on the previous year’s rent of $317.50.Marine Rescue Association member Charlie Yates said that figure had been questioned, with the rental charge to be discussed during next week’s council meeting.“It’s still a lot of money for us to raise as volunteers,” he said.South Coast MP Shelley Hancock said it was “hypocritical” for Cr Watson to condemn the state government over a minimum rental charge of $431 when council had proposed such a large increase.“A charge of $431 might not sound like a lot of money, but a $5000 increase by Shoalhaven City Council in rent is a significant burden on our local community organisations who service residents up and down the South Coast,” Mrs Hancock said.“The majority of council assets leased to community organisations are heavily subsidised however are maintained by volunteers who spend countless hours raising money through raffles and fundraising opportunities.“For council to slap them with an increase of over $5000 is hard to stomach for many of our hard-working volunteers,” she said.“That’s a lot of lamingtons and a lot of raffle tickets for the volunteers to sell.”Earlier this week, Cr Watson condemned the $431 minimum rental fee the Division of Lands set for council-owned buildings on Crown land leased to community groups.He said yesterday he was unaware of council’s attempts to charge more than $5000 in rent.“But nothing would surprise me, I’m constantly arguing with the property section over this sort of thing,” he said.Cr Watson said he would be arguing for the marine rescue associations to be charged token rental amounts for their facilities in Crookhaven Heads, Huskisson and Kioloa, with council picking up the tab for the costs demanded by the Division of Lands.“I don’t want to be charging them anything,” he said.“We should be giving these facilities to Marine Rescue and others for basically an acorn rent of $1.”This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.