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By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A ratepayers group has urged Casey Council to not seek exemptions from rate-capping in future years.

The draft 2018-’19 council budget lifts rates within the 2.25 per cent cap but mayor Geoff Ablett foreshadowed hard decisions down the track.

Those hard decisions included either cutting services or seeking an exemption from the State Government’s rate cap.

Casey Residents and Ratepayers Association president Arvo Talvik said the group was against any move to increase rates above the cap.

“I’d like to see the council reducing expenses. It just requires better budgeting.”

“All this rubbish about not having enough money for capital works two or three years down the track is a load of bulls***.

“They’re just money-hungry.”

Mr Talvik said he didn’t have much issue with the $28 average increase in waste charges proposed by Casey in 2018-’19.

The council rose the levy after renegotiating its recycling waste contract with SKM Industries due to the China recycling import ‘crisis’.

CRRA is preparing a submission on the draft budget, suggesting possible savings such as cuts to Casey’s $123 million wages bill.

Cr Ablett recently said the rates cap was hurting growth councils such as Casey over the next decade.

“This year’s budget is … a window into the future in which the cumulative pinch of rate capping is clear.

“It represents a tipping point where the future will be characterised by the increasingly difficult job of bridging the gap between the infrastructure and services the community expect and what Council can afford to deliver.”

With the help of State grants, the council still unveiled a $121.2 million capital works program for the coming financial year.

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