Melky proposes rate reduction as part of virus response


Councillor Eli Melky is proposing a 5% rate reduction for residents in 2020-21, followed by a rates freeze at current level in 2021-22.
Left: Cr Melky attending the last council meeting by Zoom. He was calling in from home – the San Francisco backdrop was virtual.
He is also suggesting a two-year rate freeze for business and commercial properties.
These are among a number of measures he is putting forward for council to consider at tonight’s committee meetings, ahead of council entering its budget setting period.
To compensate for the loss of revenue, he proposes council identify areas of savings based on a reduced demand for its services. Among them: parks redevelopment, recycling, the climate action plan,  and road reserve maintenance with the onus shifted to owner/occupiers.
Cr Melky says budget meetings with elected members have been delayed  due to “the additional workload placed on Council CEO and his team” by the Coronavirus situation. 


He has developed his proposals as “a Covid-19 Community CARE, ADAPT and RECOVERY Plan”.


“The Coronavirus requires us to take a very different approach, one of consolidation and conservation,” while also planning for recovery. 

Council’s committee meetings will be held tonight due to yesterday’s public holiday. The Alice Springs News will report tomorrow on the debate.

– Kieran Finnane

Last updated 15 April 2020, 1.50pm.

Correction of fact: The earlier version of this article reported that residential rates in 2021-22 would be frozen at the discounted level of 2020-21. Cr Melky is proposing they be frozen at the current (pre-discount) level.


  1. I think a rates waiver not just a freeze would be more helpful for the next instalment.
    Just seems like kicking the can down the road.
    Time for Council to start giving back to the people who provide their income.

  2. The Town Council is a business, funded by ratepayers.
    Any other business that has less to do and fewer customers has to take action or go broke.
    The Council seems to think that it can do less and still charge the same rates.
    It’s a “work for the rates” employment program.
    Melky’s proposal has merit but much more is needed.
    An independent reviewer needs to tease out the work the Council still has to do and the staff needed.
    The 30% odd staff that are not needed should be laid off to be funded by the Feds.
    We should then get a large discount on our rates.

  3. I propose that rates can be further reduced by removing absurd tokenism in a community with no known community COVID transmission.
    The large bollards installed on the steps between Coles complex and Yeperenye is both futile and wasteful.

  4. @Peter. I hope you are referring to a 30% cut to the ASTC office staff numbers which have continually increased from approx 100 in 2012 to over 200 today, while numbers at the depot are still low. I trust that Council will also regain the extraordinary $6mill outstanding for past waivers approved to ratepayers in cases of alleged extreme hardship.
    I applaud Councillor Melky’s efforts towards Alice Springs ratepayers and the town’s economy on which Coronavirus is inevitably having an added impact: However, rather than a kneejerk reaction, and rather than bulk sackings, we need the Captain of the ship to give a “steady as she goes!”
    According to National Census our population has dropped significantly, no doubt about it, but if we assume that we still have the same ratepayer base of 6,000 that we had in 2012 then that means ASTC budget for office staff numbers should and must reflect that. We would expect staff decreases, with a combination of natural attrition, and redundancy. As a longtime ratepayer, I would expect rates increases to be marginalised for a period in line with economic recovery. However, we can’t expect everything for free!! I would respectfully welcome a review on staff numbers in due process. There should ALWAYS be more people on the ground than in the office.

  5. @ Sandy Taylor: Extraordinary that we have over 200 Alice Springs Town Council office staff.
    Far too much is spent on ASTC bureaucracy and a review is needed.
    When was the last one?
    Has there ever been a review of ASTC staffing?
    It would be very timely for an outside independent study of the ASTC.
    I have no doubt that such a review would reduce costs and our rates.
    But would any councillor be brave enough to suggest it?
    I doubt it. The impression I get is that the CEO has far more influence than is healthy.

  6. 200 staff?
    If so,they are also rate payers and local community members.
    How about not doing them out of a job?

  7. @ Watchn: Sorry but I don’t support a “work for the Council” job program.
    If the 200 office staff are needed, if all 15 rangers are working hard and productively then OK.
    But if some of these jobs are not needed they should go and rates cut.
    An independent, fair review is needed.

  8. 15 Rangers?
    If this is your info I think a review would be needed.
    I imagine that staff budgets have already been covered, Alice Springs Town Council has money in the bank.
    “Unemploying” staff of any organisation is not called for, enough people have already lost work in town.
    Calling to ruin the livelihood of council staff because you think they do nothing is ridiculous. And then what? More people capable of full-time are pushed into Centrelink line?


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