By Michael Giles

SHIRE administrations at Bass Coast and South Gippsland don’t really want to take much notice of the results in their annual Community Satisfaction Surveys.
But they have to.
They want to talk about the results of the independent survey as being about community “perception” of the shires’ performances, as opposed to reality.
How could South Gippsland be marked down so far on ‘Advocacy’, for example, when it helped deliver the public funding for the $5.345 million Korumburra children’s centre?
It was a query raised by South Gippsland CEO Tim Tamlin when he delivered his shire’s poor results last week.
The surveys, involving interviews with 400+ people in South Gippsland, and Bass Coast were carried out in February/March but the final tranche of Federal Government funding for the Karmai centre wasn’t delivered until May. So, watch for a bounce, in perception at least, next year.
Bass Coast, on the other hand, doesn’t have a government funding success like that on its books for 2015, although watch this space, because the shire is on target to make a submission to the National Stronger Regions Fund, by the closing date of July 31, for the Bass Valley Children’s Centre.
Even without a success of that nature, Bass Coast’s performance was rated higher than South Gippsland’s on almost every score:
• Overall: Bass Coast 50, South Gippsland 49 and Large Rural Councils 56
• Community Consultation: Bass Coast 47, South Gippsland 49, Large Rural Councils 54
• Advocacy (lobbying on behalf of the community): BC 47, SG 45, LRC 53
• Making Decisions: BC 44, SG 44, LRC 52
• Sealed Roads: BC 36, SG 27, LRC 45
• Customer Service: BC 64, SG 65, LRC 67
• Overall Direction BC 49 SG 4, LRC 51
Here are the key finding about Bass Coast:
“In 2015, Bass Coast Shire Council has largely maintained its 2014 ratings, with values across all core measures generally on par with last year’s results. However, Bass Coast Shire Council’s results are lower than averages for other Councils in the Large Rural group across a number of measures. Bass Coast’s results also tend to be lower than the State-wide average across most measures,” from the survey report.
“In terms of key core measures, overall performance ratings for the Council are unchanged from 2014, however Philip Island residents have dropped 7 points over the past year in their assessment of Council’s performance.
“Phillip Island residents, along with 50-64 year olds, are among the least satisfied with Council across a wide range of service areas. By contrast, 18-34 year olds and Wonthaggi and Inverloch residents assign consistently significantly higher ratings.”
It was recommended that the shire “examine the specific problems and issues of Phillip Island residents and 50-64 year olds in order to drive more positive sentiment among these groups”.
“Bass Coast Shire could also examine what specific elements of its approach to governance is resonating so strongly with Wonthaggi and Inverloch residents and 18-34 year olds.”

Shire’s response
Here’s what Bass Coast said about the survey results:
Bass Coast Shire Council noted the results were generally on par with last year’s results.
Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Kimberley Brown, acknowledged the poor response from Phillip Island and from the 50-64 demographic while also noting that younger residents and those living in Inverloch and Wonthaggi were more happy with the shire.
“Our Customer Service rated well overall, with 61 per cent of respondents rating Council as ‘very good’ or ‘good’.
“We also saw a 10-point increase from 35 to 49 year olds over the last year for Council’s overall direction; although, Council’s overall ratings in this area have remained the same.”
Cr Brown said it was also positive to see an increase in satisfaction for waste services from Phillip Island respondents.
“Our performance on waste management improved by four points and was driven by significantly better ratings from Phillip Island residents,” Cr Brown said.
“The services provided at the Cowes Recycle Depot have improved over the past year and it is encouraging to see those initiatives reflected in the survey.”

WHAT do people really think about Bass Coast Shire Council’s performance in the past 12 months?
The 2015 Community Satisfaction Survey (CSS) sums up opinions pretty well, but the Sentinel-Times decided to ask one completely random ratepayer on the some of the same questions 400-plus people were asked over the phone when surveyed earlier this year.
Ed Kosciuk, an Inverloch resident for the past 10 years, had a lot to say – so much so that he wished he’d been phoned to take part in the survey itself.
Here’s are a few of his answers:

What is your view of the direction of the council’s overall performance in the last 12 months? Please grade them by selecting either Very Good, Good, Average, Poor or Very Poor.
Very poor.

Why do you say that?
Because our councillors have hidden agendas, no focus and they’re a bunch of amateurs. I’m not aware how they got elected because they’re hopeless.

What’s one issue you’ve been most dissatisfied with?
The handling of Inverloch’s dog issue. They spent ratepayers’ money on surveying people and then totally ignored the survey. From my perspective this is just a really poorly operated council.

What do you think council has done well in the last 12 months?

Nothing at all?
Because they’re trying to force other things down people’s throats, it detracts from anything positive they might be trying to achieve.
Fair enough. What about waste management? The CSS showed ratepayers gave that a higher score than last year…
We still have to drag green waste to the tip. And when it comes to hard rubbish collection, most other councils cover that. We have to pay for it. There’s nothing being provided. We get the (green waste amnesty period) but every other time of the year we’re paying a fortune to dispose of it.

What do you think about recreational facilities? This rated lower in the latest CSS.
I immediately think of Inverloch’s boat ramp – the worst and most dangerous ramp in the area. It has been fixed by so-called specialists twice now. I’ve been involved in accidents at the ramp because it is so dangerous.