I noted last week’s comments from the South Gippsland Shire Mayor and Cr Brunt on the rates issues.
Can the Mayor, in the interests of transparency, please tell us what items were cost shifted from other governments and at what cost occurred in the past year.
What are the new items which we are supposed to now fund and what sum is now in our budget?
It is too easy for council to hide behind the cost shift tag.
In respect of Cr Brunt, she posed the question of what item do we want council to cut when in fact council should be asking a whole lot of other questions before needing to ask that question.
I would have thought council could ask the staff to take their budget and “find say a 10 per cent efficiency target” or “can we do this in another way” or “do we need to be doing this” or “does someone else do something similar that could be extended to cover this”?
Our council spends around $1120 out of the average rate assessment of about $1650 on administration.
In Bass Coast the figure is just under $900 for the average assessment. That is a difference of around 24 per cent.
That would suggest our council staff and councillors need to review how they operate.
If they cannot improve then they need to allow for a structure which is more efficient, say merge with Bass Coast.
There are farming operations in our shires which run a $5 million operation and employ perhaps 10 people.
Our shire is perhaps a $50 to $60 million operation but employs several hundred people so you can see that the operators of the life blood of the community see the council operation as bloated and inefficient.
Farmers and businesses are not in a position to say “let’s put the rates up” whenever a financial impost arises.
They need to address the question of “how can we manage to finance” the change or “do we need this” or a multitude of other questions.
The administration of local government is set up on the wrong basis.
The council goes about planning to bring services to the community without being given the costs for those services.
The planning just looks at what services it would like to supply.
The task of implementing the service is given to staff and they present that cost in the budget.
Nobody asks the questions of how can we deliver the service and what are the costs.
The simple means of administration is “put the rates up”.
The water boards have their budget reviewed by the State Government and increases are approved externally.
Health funds and power and gas charges are vetted by governments.
Nobody reviews the council rates.
There is no requirement to review their efficiency.
We the ratepayers have it in our hands to ask for changes.
I would like to ask our councillors to look at the option of merging with Bass Coast as an efficiency measure.
Lindsay Love, Leongatha.