The island’s local authorities are currently letting their ratepayers know how much they’ll be paying in the next financial year.
As we point out, it’s difficult to compare like with like because some authorities, Castletown for instance, set a different waste charge and that comes on top of the ordinary rate.
We tend to think of collecting rubbish as a fundamental local government role. So we find this practice bizarre verging on the disingenuous.
Smaller local authorities haven’t said what their rates will be.
Finding out is harder than you might think.
A few years ago, the clerk at Bride Commissioners – the smallest local authority in the Isle of Man – even refused to tell us when the rate-setting meeting would take place.
So much for understanding the importance of transparent procedures in a democracy.
What conclusions do we draw?
We need a fundamental reform of local government.
Of course, we need fewer authorities (if we keep them at all).
Some authorities hide behind ‘commercial confidentiality’ in rate setting meetings.
While Douglas’s had been agreed in advance, it was announced and backed by democratically-elected councillors in a public meeting this week.
If we are to have different authorities, they must follow the same sort of procedures.
There should be a common approach to waste management fees.
Then we might have a more meaningful comparison of different authorities and voters will be better able to decide whether or not they’re doing a good job.
This editorial comment appeared in the Manx Independent of February 2.