So why do Councils’ insist on demanding ever higher rates from their communities?
I believe Cr Wright’s letter ‘Keeping up with cost of living’ (Sentinel-Times, May 3) gives us all some insight into how our current crop of councillors think.
Our councillor was responding to a letter from Mr Kevin Mackay, published the previous week.
Firstly, our councillor contends that the main theme of Mr McKay’s letter was that “Council should only deliver roads, drainage and rubbish”.
Here we see an inability of councillors to carefully listen to (or read in this case) the community.
I believe that most people who read Mr Mackay’s letter would agree that the main theme is in fact that Bass Coast councillors need to be very mindful of the hardship that their excessive rate increases have on ordinary ratepayers.
Secondly, our councillor asserts, “Discussions on rates always conclude that people pay too much and the solution is to reduce staff”.
Here we see an unwillingness of councillors to properly reflect what the community is telling them.
The community’s feedback to council was much broader than that. Included amongst the many questions and suggestions from the community were points such as reducing the CEO and executive salaries, and reducing the excessive outlays paid to consultants, etc.
Thirdly, our councillor claims that ratepayers in Surf Coast Shire pay $1000 more than those in Bass Coast Shire.
This is just plain wrong, and here we see the inability of councillors to properly check facts.
With a few mouse clicks at the Know-Your-Council website we can easily see that the average amount of rates for each residential property is: BCSC $1587 and SCSC $2013.
That’s a difference of $426. It’s less than half the amount claimed by our councillors.
Cr Wright asks, “What must council do to be gauged as successful?”
Well, here are a few of my suggestions for all our councillors to consider, should they see fit to do so.
1. Stop gouging ratepayers. The rate cap (2.5 per cent) is about double the current inflation rate (1.3 per cent). If you can’t manage within that, then just resign.
2. Remember that the Minister for Local Government has cautioned you against using the rate cap as an excuse to cut vital staff and services, while you continue to waste money on excessive executive pay and councillor spending.
3. Pledge that, should you be re-elected in October, you will tender out the CEO contract at the expiry of its term. This will offer some assurance to the community that the market has been properly tested and that we are genuinely getting value for money. Don’t just wave the CEO through onto his next five-year term as has been past practice.
October will see council elections in Victoria.
I don’t believe that any of our current councillors have represented ratepayers sufficiently enough to have earned being re-elected, and it is my sincere hope that we will see alternative candidates step forward.
Candidates who will pledge to hold increases in rates and charges to the Fair Go level, and will also pledge to increase the transparency of all of council’s financial transactions. Candidates who will rebuild trust with the community.
Councillors who will act with rigorous fiscal discipline and transparency.
Councillors who comprehensively understand the need to professionally manage the CEO and executive in order to maximise the value obtained from ratepayer monies.
Kevin Griffin, Inverloch.