By ANEEKA SIMONIS
“THEY think that if they can get rid of me and crush me then there will be nothing holding them back.”
Outspoken Cardinia Shire councillor Collin Ross revealed the cracks between himself and fellow councillors were worsening, claiming he was often the target of “mud-throwing” attacks over his cost-cutting campaign efforts.
Spending was an “addiction” suffered by council, according to Cr Ross, who accused the local body as being a “closed shop” when it came to considering ratepayers around budget time.
“Who wouldn’t want to lose their ability to put the price up (on rates) whenever you like however much you like.”
He likened his stance toward campaigning for lowered annual rate rises and support for the incoming council rate cap as “paddling up a waterfall”.
“I have constant arguments internally on spending,” he said.
“People get personal. They all have throwing mud sessions at me. They think that if they can get rid of me and crush me then there will be nothing holding them back.
“But council is a closed shop. They can vote for a rate increase however much they like and people can’t stop them. I have no idea why they (councillors) do not support the community.”
His position is so unfavourable among fellow councillors that he dismissed the possibility of him ever being voted in as mayor.
“It has cost me my position. I will never, ever be mayor.”
“People don’t want a mayor who doesn’t support the rest on what they want to do,” he said, referring to high rate rises.
He accused the council of failing to listen to ratepayers, suggesting the recent Big Budget Brainstorm events were a disguised strategy for the council to apply to boost council rates above the level of inflation when council-contested caps are introduced next year.
The concern was first raised in the Gazette by Cardinia Shire Ratepayers Association president Gloria O’Connor who suggested the sessions may be used to justify a future rate rise under the Essential Services Commission.
A clause in the rate-capping legislation allows councils to set their rates above the CPI cap if they can prove the increase is warranted through the support of the community.
The dagger has been publicly thrust into Cr Ross in recent weeks.
Councillors, including Kate Lempriere, accused Cr Ross of attempting to boost his popularity with voters as part of a “political move” in the lead-up to state and local elections.
Cr Graeme Moore also voiced doubts on Cr Ross’s expense claims, suggesting the validity of his $8046 claim for kilometres over the past 10 months was “questionable”.