Warrnambool City Council mayor Tony Herbert says independent consultants need to gather community feedback about a potential rate rise to ensure transparency.
The council voted on Monday to seek a rise above the state government regulated cap, which has drawn the ire of the community.
The Standard then revealed the council would assess feedback on the plan from residents, which could cost up to $30,000.
Cr Herbert said a consultant was required to ensure the process had integrity.
“I could imagine if the council turned around and said we’re doing the consultation, people would say well that’s not very transparent. They would go berserk,” he said.
“People talk about levels of transparency. I think to get honest feedback that has some level of integrity we have to keep it at arm’s length.
“If for example the feedback came back that more people were keen for a rate rise, can you imagine the comments about the council and the consultation? It would be an outrage if we had done the survey ourselves. (A consultant) is the most responsible way to do it.”
Cr Herbert said the cost of a specialist was unfortunately a required expense.
“If anyone engages an architect, a tradesman, a lawyer or an accountant, they are expensive,” he said.
“There is no way around it.”
Cr Herbert said it was an issue the council had decided to put out to the community as it was “extremely important”.
“Some members of the community are saying through the Warrnambool 2040 plan that they want things to happen, they want Warrnambool to grow and they want all of the facilities that other places have got,” he said.
“That’s the aspirational side of it. Then we have people who can’t afford to pay a rate increase. We have to take them into consideration as well. I think the most important thing is to put it out to the community, see what they want to do.”
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