New councillor takes on critics in Facebook battleground
ONE of Gympie region’s new councillors took on the Facebook critics ahead of yesterday’s adoption of the $141 million Gympie Regional Council budget.
The article written by Gympie Times senior reporter Scott Kovacevic revealed that Gympie region ratepayers would be in for an average 3.91 per cent rate increase with this week’s budget.
As is usual on Facebook, the article drew some fair and unfair, informed and uninformed opinion; one resident asking why, if the rates went up in bad times, they didn’t go down in the good times.
Doggedly and politely responding and explaining the situation to various individuals was new councillor Bruce Devereaux, a blogger who is well seasoned in the Facebook battleground, and a father of seven who is well seasoned in diplomacy.
“It’s true,” Mr Devereaux said.
“Rates go up and up. In part because the wages council pays staff (and councillors) go up and up, and the products council purchases to meet its service obligations go up and up because the wages of those businesses also go up and up and the businesses they purchase off etc. Good times or bad, none of us take a pay cut.”
But Michelle Duggy wasn’t having any of that.
“Disagree Bruce,” she said.
“Wages don’t go up that much. Other big business around town have cut salaries. Plenty of people take pay cuts but it’s usually salary earners rather than wage earners under an industry agreement.”
Several others expressed their lack of surprise at the rate rise, while others weren’t impressed.
Daniel Robson said:
“I guarantee all the people whinging probably backed Curran for years. We need a tough budget for a year or two or even more to get the town back to where it should be. Curran and his council destroyed this town financially and it’s a quick fix, especially in the COVID era.”
Things got interesting when a person with the online alias of Richard Cronium tried to blame the rate rise on the Gympie Chamber of Commerce.
“The chamber must now be held accountable,” he or she said.
“They campaigned to get one of the own elected and now, he along with others have put up rates in commercial areas by 30 per cent. This will mean the end of more businesses and less chance of jobs. Well done chamber.”
He or she was instantly called out for having a “fake profile” but did not respond, nor comment on the budget any further.
Nate Brock said the council was stripping “the hard working rate payers rather than take a cut themselves from their own previous stupidity” to which Mr Devereaux responded:
“This is a new Council, which was voted in earlier this year. It’s our first budget. And I can assure you we most emphatically haven’t attempted to strip the hard working ratepayers - that’s why this has taken so long. We have been doggedly determined to minimise the hurt to the residents of Gympie Region.
“I can’t make you believe anything. I can only explain things as I see them.
“Advice to us was there wasn’t going to be enough in the kitty to pay operational expenses all the way through to the next lot of rates.
“This is what we took on when we got the job of guiding our region for the next four years, not what we made happen. And while most of us expected things to be a bit shite I think it’s fair to say we were collectively shocked by just how shite it was. But we did the best we could with the means we have available to us, and there’s a way forward we think we’ve mapped out.”
So look out Facebook critics - you might have to back up your claims and opinions with facts.