A former Upper Lachlan Shire Council mayor demanded an apology from the organisation at a public meeting to discuss a proposed rate rise on Thursday.
Gunning man, John Shaw said he was offended to see four police officers at the town's Shire hall when he arrived.
"To have four police officers outside tells me that you think we will become violent and vicious," he said.
"I can tell you that we are peaceful people...I've been through all this (planned rate rises before) and we don't get violent, we don't bash people. I think this community deserves an apology."
Police also attended towards the end of a separate meeting at Taralga on Thursday and another at Crookwell.
However Upper Lachlan Shire mayor, Pam Kensit, said she had received five death threats in the past nine months related to council matters.
"It's a scary position to be in," she said.
"The council did a risk assessment and that was the advice that came back - to have police there."
She did not believe it inflamed tensions over the rate proposal.
Up to 150 people attended a sometimes heated Gunning meeting, designed to gather feedback on the council's proposed rate rise. Three options have been suggested: the current rate peg system; a 55per cent hike in year one, followed by the 2.5pc rate peg in the two ensuing years (cumulative 62.5pc); or a cumulative 63pc rise split over three years. The latter two options would raise an extra $4.7 million by 2027/28.
The council says it will register successive operating deficits without intervention. Consultants, AEC Group, also said the deteriorating unrestricted cash position was also a "major concern."
"We've landed in the same position as a lot of other councils," she said.
"...Certainly the 55pc in one go is a big hit - too much at once - but the technical reports from consultants have said we need at least 35 per cent more revenue in the next year or so to get to the cash position required to be financially stable, and moving forward, to improve infrastructure services."
But residents at the community meetings have reacted angrily to the plan.
"From farmers, tell your consultants the answer is no," a Bevendale grazier yelled at the Gunning forum.
"If you are short on money, why are you spending a six figure sum on consultants? It would be better spent on infrastructure."
Several graziers said they couldn't afford the rate increase, given 'plummeting' prices for rural commodities, including sheep and cattle.
Consultant's modelling showed that with a 55pc rise in year one, followed by the rate peg, farmland rates would increase from an average $2023 in 2023/24 to $3136 the next financial year.
Mr Shaw served 30 years in local government, including as mayor and deputy mayor of Gunning shire before its amalgamation with Crookwell Shire to become Upper Lachlan.
"It's a huge hike. It's not something that anyone in this shire or Gunning at this time would be happy to go along with," he said.
"...There were times when I was on the council that belt tightening was part of the process...They should be looking at efficiencies."
Mr Shaw said people were already enduring rising living costs and a rate hike "would drain a lot of the community."
He rebutted claims that this was Upper Lachlan's first SRV application. Mr Shaw said Gunning's rates were always lower than Crookwell's before the 2004 amalgamation. Gunning had been "in the black forever and worked within its rate structure." But in 2004, Gunning rates rose 80 per cent or more in two years to reach parity with Crookwell.
Mr Shaw described the meeting as "very heated."
"You're asking people to dip into their pockets and pay more. Please explain," he said.
One woman told presenters that many people also worked off farm to make ends meet.
"We are bleeding with the cost of living...Let's not just talk about costs but the mental health toll this is taking on people," she said.
Cullerin graziers, Rachael and Peter Foley, said the bulk of rate money would come from primary producers at a time of low commodity prices and the prospect of another drought.
"You can't get blood out of a stone," Mrs Foley said.
"The council has to spend wisely, just like everyone."
The same theme echoed throughout the meeting. Many others also questioned the value they were receiving for their current rates and criticised council road maintenance levels.
Several argued the council should have explained where the extra money would be spent.
Ms Waldron acknowledged it was a "very bad time" to propose the rate rise but the council had waited as long as it could. She said much of the information people requested was on the council's website and pointed out that it was early in the consultation and more detailed expenditure planning would occur down the track.
Asked the course of action if councillors didn't proceed with the SRV, Ms Waldron said the council would have to review service levels.
"The fact of the matter is, we can't maintain our current service levels," she said.
"If we don't have more money we will have to look at efficiencies, cuts...potentially closing things, selling off asset and reducing grading."
Cr Lauren Woodbridge, a Gunning district resident, drew an angry response from the crowd when she asked whether people would be happy to have services cut and possibly, the town's library closed.
Several criticised the council for "not answering questions," playing a pre-recorded presentation at the start of the meeting and for enlisting former Goulburn Mulwaree Council general manager and Oolong resident, Warwick Bennett as moderator.
Cr Kensit said she asked Mr Bennett to do so after an earlier Crookwell meeting that day "got out of hand" and was aborted. It will now be held at the town's Memorial Hall on Wednesday night, November 8.
The mayor said Crookwell's Emily Chalker Sports Venue only accommodated 60 people but about 280 turned up and lighting and the PA system failed.
About 110 people attended the Taralga meeting, which Cr Kensit said was "more respectful."
"We've had the guts to go out to community consultation. We've listened and we've heard," she said.
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