Thank goodness for the valuable work of a few good men in alerting the ratepayers of Bass Coast shire to the alarming mismanagement of their money.
Former mayor of the shire Alan Brown, former audit committee chairman John Swarbrick, and former councillor and audit committee member Ross Smith, are not lightweights in council matters.
When it comes to understanding the function and dysfunction of Bass Coast Shire Council, these men have many years of experience that comes from being in the thick of it.
Like a growing number of ratepayers in this shire, I am frustrated and fed up with this council continually gouging us with rate hikes that are well in excess of the prevailing inflation rate.
Cr Kimberley Brown claims that the draft budget and long term financial plan (LTFP) documents demonstrate that Bass coast is one of the lowest rating and lowest spending councils in Victoria.
But for too many years now this council has continued to raise rates by multiples of CPI, so it may not be too long before this council becomes the highest cost rating council in Victoria.
For too long now this council has returned to the well and repeatedly drawn from it. And according to their LTFP, they intend to continue doing so.
The LTFP in part states that:
The 2015/16 strategic position is based on a 6.3 per cent operating rate increase and a 4 per cent operating increase in total revenue for waste collection including funding the cost of disposal of domestic waste, recycling collection and the environment levy.
In the following nine years of the plan we will adopt a 4.7 per cent operating rate increase and a four per cent waste collection revenue increase (subject to the review of the Waste Management Strategy).
So whilst inflation is currently running at around 2.1 per cent and falling, this council appears determined to continue gouging ratepayers well into the future. And this despite the fact that the Victorian Government is introducing the Fairer Rating System, a timely policy designed to cap council rates to CPI.
With this budget and LTFP, the current councillors have clearly signalled that we ratepayers are fair game.
The ability of ratepayers to withstand these continuing rate hikes seems not to cause them much concern.
The Philip Island Progress Association, representing around 2000 members, recently posted an open letter to the Mayor of Bass Coast (Advertiser, May 6).
That open letter was in regard to the continuing excessive rate rises in this shire, and concluded with a serious recommendation to council that it heed the warning signs and get its house in order.
I concur with that sentiment.
Councillors should indeed heed the warning signs, as there appears to be a groundswell on the rise against the mismanagement of our money.
I do hope that we see candidates at next year’s local government elections who will pledge to hold the council CEO and executives to account, and who will mandate that rate increases and operating costs not increase above the CPI rate.
We need councillors who will stop the tail from wagging the dog.
Kevin Griffin, Inverloch.