MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Anthony Marsh has defended his inability to carry out a pre-election promise to implement a “rate freeze”.
In March 2021 he seconded an unsuccessful move by fellow Briars Ward councillor Steve Holland to give ratepayers a 1.5 per cent rebate, but this year was hamstrung by being mayor, a position that prevents him moving motions or amendments.
“Given no other councillor tested a motion or amendment to freeze or reduce the proposed rate increase, I had no opportunity to vote in support of a ‘rate freeze’ this year,” Marsh, who was elected in late 2020, said.
“The position of mayor is not a platform to push agendas or positions contrary to council decisions, and it is not appropriate to campaign for an outcome – a rate freeze – in that capacity. So, while my views were different, I respect the council’s decision [to adopt a rate increase of 1.75 per cent].”
Marsh’s commitment to his campaign pledge to “advocate for a rate freeze in the next budget to provide you much-needed relief during these challenging times” has been questioned by the Mornington Peninsula Ratepayers and Residents Association.
“In addition to still suffering from the effects of COVID on their income, many in the community are faced with significant increase in the cost of living. Now Marsh is mayor he has a great opportunity to push for his rate freeze,” association president Alan Nelson said.
“However, we are not aware of any campaign by Marsh to push for a rate freeze either in his first year as a councillor or now, particularly as he has the opportunity of the status as mayor to introduce a freeze in these difficult times for many.
“It would appear that his statement about rate freeze was just rhetoric to get himself elected.”
If Holland’s motion to give ratepayers a rebate would have seen them given $2.3 million, the equivalent to the 1.5 per cent rate cap imposed by the state government.
“The MPRRA may have missed it during budget deliberations last year, but I seconded the motion moved by Cr Holland to provide a full rebate of the proposed 1.5 per cent rate increase. Only Cr Holland and I voted in favour of the motion,” Marsh said.