An empty Mary Valley Rattler station during coronavirus. Picture: Shane Zahner
An empty Mary Valley Rattler station during coronavirus. Picture: Shane Zahner

Rattler rip-off: ‘It’s not a service to ratepayers’

Letter to the editor:

RECENT questioning of The Rattler’s economic impact on the region vs. cost to ratepayer, misses the fundamental question of principle that should first be addressed: should ratepayers even be expected to fund a business venture (profitable or not) that returns no direct essential services to the ratepayer?

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Libraries, sporting facilities, roads, water treatment and waste, parks and other public infrastructure are ratepayer-funded ventures that deliver essential services directly to the community in return for rates.

The Rattler however, provides no essential service to anyone.

The Mary Valley Rattler.
The Mary Valley Rattler.

The Rattler’s return was purely an experiment in local economic-stimulus, that relied wholly on ratepayers and taxpayers as investors, whether willing or unwilling. This is where the previous council deviated from its “social contract” with ratepayers to provide services in return for rates.

If this experiment with our money turns out to be profitable, it can always be sold to remedy that deviation. However if it is not profitable, should ratepayers be expected to prop it up on an ongoing basis?

And if we really want to venture down the path of council (ratepayers) setting up and funding tourism ventures in the region to stimulate economic activity, wouldn’t it make sense to target one that is likely to be profitable and not an ongoing drain on the ratepayer?

Those are the unpalatable trade-offs. If the new council is unable to restructure The Rattler business to make it profitable, or at least sustainable, they’ll need to consult widely with ratepayers (effectively The Rattler shareholders) to find out if a substantial majority of them are prepared to carry this loss-making burden into the future.

The previous council deviated from our social contract and proceeded with The Rattler misadventure without the necessary broadbased ratepayer support.

They did this to their own obvious peril on election day and also to the ire of us who are now left holding the baby.

Andrew McLaughlin, Gympie

Gympie Times


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