Reading our local papers, and hearing feedback from many community members, I believe that the early performance of our new Bass Coast Shire Council augurs well for our community in this New Year, and beyond.
Already our councillors have demonstrated that they are genuinely listening to the community, and that they are working in the best interests of the whole community by leading, rather than by following, the CEO.
For example, we see the great result achieved with the successful relocation of the lifesaving patrol tower at Inverloch’s surf beach.
Whereas the previous council appeared to adopt an adversarial approach to the tower situation, our new councillors immediately turned that position on its head.
They swiftly engaged with the surf club, council officers, and the minister, to produce a very timely and satisfactory outcome.
And only just in the nick of time for the summer holidays.
Visitors, both local and from around the world, will enjoy their beach holiday in added safety as the great team of lifesavers and volunteers keep a watchful eye over the water precinct from the relocated tower.
For another example, we have the recent decision by councillors to pause and reconsider the merit and feasibility of committing almost $1 million of ratepayers’ money into design drawings for the Cowes Cultural Centre.
Rather than blithely waving through the recommendations from council’s senior officers, our new councillors pointed out significant deficiencies in the report such as;
• Important information about the amount of borrowings associated with the project had not been disclosed to the community.
• Important financial information about grant funding and other conditions had not been fully disclosed to council.
• The Federal Government did not accept the figures claimed in council’s business case, and thus rejected the council’s application for funding.
In hitting the pause button on part of this $18 million combined project, our councillors have demonstrated prudent and proper management of ratepayer monies.
Our community, like all others, has competing needs and wants.
But just as our individual families must live within their financial means and determine appropriate priorities for spending and borrowing, so to must our community family.
Our new councillors understand this.
But it seems to me that the CEO and perhaps some of the senior officers at council are not accustomed to these higher standards of fiscal rigour, and they have some way to go in order to step up to the more disciplined approach being applied by the new councillors.
With the CEO on $330,000 and his senior officers averaging $150,000 let’s hope they can catch up quickly.
Kevin Griffin, Inverloch.