Writing to the editor is not something I have taken lightly.
As a councillor I feel the editorial column is for our constituents to express themselves and an opportunity for free flowing ideas.
However, I feel the need to set the record straight and to respond to last week’s letter to the editor from Cr McEwen (‘Councillors fight rates’ Letters, 22/09/15, p15).
Cr McEwen is currently on leave and I welcome discussing this further with him on his return from leave.
Cr McEwen is claiming that rates can be cut and this can be achieved with a strategic business approach.
I say we have a strategic business approach and that we are on track to reduce our rate increase and meet the State Governments Rate Capping policy.
This demonstrates that there are more than only three councillors listening to the community.
As a member of the Audit Committee I can report that the South Gippsland Shire has received a report to accompany our Annual Report from the Auditor General which complemented our officers on sound fiscal management and reporting.
As well, our council has gone through a very rigorous process where we invited representative community members to review our rating strategy and council has adopted most of their recommendations.
I would like to further discuss the following points with Cr McEwen and welcome information that would substantiate the following:
• Can his claim of his rates rise, an increase of 22 per cent, be justified?
• Are line items from his rates notices being cherry picked?
• Does the claimed increase take account of the abandonment of the Municipal Charge? (My very strong instinct is that it does not).
I challenge Cr McEwen to table the relevant rates notices so that the information is on the public record.
It is also important to note that Cr McEwen voted in support of both the current budget and the rating strategy.
I also find it disappointing that there are inherent contradictions in his letter: arguing for collegiality and leadership yet making a case via a letter to the editor based on misinformation that sets three councillors against the other six.
Further, the fact that penning a letter to the editor decrying a lack of cooperation amongst councillors and bemoaning a lack of public trust in council is actually self-fulfilling and ultimately self-serving.
If the true intention of the letter writer was cooperation and trust then there are more effective ways to achieve that, than through a public letter criticising his colleagues.
Cr Mohya Davies, Coastal Promontory Ward, Foster