Fiery protest: ‘They went up very bloody quickly’
RETIRED businessman George Partos took the dramatic action of burning his rates notice outside Coffs Harbour City Council chambers this morning.
It's his latest protest against the Cultural and Civic Space.
"It didn't take long for them to burn - they went up very bloody quickly, it was amazing," Mr Partos said.
"One customer going into the office stopped and congratulated me."
He was burning two quarterly notices for approximately $1600 in rates on two properties.
He is a member of Citizens' Voice Coffs Harbour established to fight the Gordon Street project estimated to cost $76.5m - although some, including Crs Keith Rhoades and Paul Amos, fear costs could blow out to more than $100m.
They have drawn parallels with Port Macquarie's Glasshouse which went over budget and led to the dismissal of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council in 2008.
Mr Partos calls the project a "colossal waste" of ratepayers' money and believes the vast majority of the community is against it, particularly now with the economic impacts of COVID-19.
He was involved in gathering signatures for the petition tabled in NSW parliament late last year, calling for a pause on the project.
It attracted close to 15,000 signatures - well over the 10,000 needed for it to be tabled.
"I am so upset that Council still persists with this so I am refusing to pay my rates until the project is stopped or the next election where the democratic will of the people can be honoured."
Local government elections scheduled for September this year have been postponed until September 4 next year due to the pandemic.
His rates are due this Wednesday and he has written to all Councillors to let them know why he's refusing to pay.
"I don't even expect a response to be honest, and it's only the four rogue councillors who are a problem anyway."
Cr Jan Strom retired due to ill-health in March last year leaving eight Councillors, and the potential for a tied vote, which has played out on a number of crucial votes in relation to the Cultural and Civic Space.
On some occasions Mayor Denise Knight has used her casting vote to progress the project.
The Development Application for the building which will include a new library, art gallery and council offices, is currently with the State Government's Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
It attracted more than 800 submissions during the public exhibition period.