Many community members might consider the previous Bass Coast Shire Council as having been the ‘worst ever’ in Bass Coast.
Fortunately, among the current councillors are a number who have proven credentials in business management and finance.
And we’ve already seen a stronger sense of fiscal discipline and community engagement displayed by these councillors.
For those who remember the outrageous rate increases, the lack of genuine consultation, and the repeated wasting of ratepayers’ money, a walk down almost any street across the shire will currently offer a reminder of just how bad that previous council was.
Across the shire, residents and visitors will see some of the tens of thousands of perfectly serviceable wheelie bins that lay on nature strips, awaiting collection to be recycled.
To many householders it is obvious that these discarded bins are still in very good condition, and would be capable of many years of continued service.
If you read the letters to local newspapers, talk to your neighbours and others, I’m sure you’ll find general agreement on this point.
A number of people have told me they’ve seen discarded bins which appear to be in as good as new condition. I know ours were.
The replacement of these bins seems to be a completely unnecessary expense to ratepayers.
The discarded bins serve to remind us why we must continue to scrutinise how the council spends our money.
Assuming average cost of $50 per bin, each community household is now out of pocket by around $100. For many households $100 is not an amount that would be expended without careful consideration of the reason for the spend.
Shire-wide this unnecessary expense equates to around $2.5 million of ratepayer monies, and to many ratepayers this expense appears to be not only unnecessary, but also to have been made with undue haste.
The previous councillors took their decision behind closed doors at their final council meeting before going into election caretaker mode.
Many agree that it would have been more prudent and more appropriate to have left the decision until after the election, thereby giving the new council a chance to scrutinise and review the contract and offer the community some further opportunity for input.
Imagine how that money could have been more wisely spent to the community’s benefit, if only those councillors had exhibited more diligence in scrutinising the contract and consulting with the community.
Any improvements in the management and reduction of household and commercial wastes are to be welcomed.
However, such improvements do not excuse the needless waste of ratepayer monies.
And, alongside the unnecessary production tens of thousands of plastic bins would have come the unnecessary expense to the environment, in the form of greenhouse gases etc. generated in the manufacturing processes. So it appears that both ratepayers and the environment have paid an unnecessary price due to the previous council’s apparent lack of ability to adequately scrutinise, assess, and challenge the administration’s recommendation to proceed with the contract.
This very visible legacy of the recent past is a timely reminder to all ratepayers and residents that we must remain vigilant to ensure that our elected councillors always consider us ahead of the bureaucrats, and that they do not repeat the errors of their predecessors.
Kevin Griffin, president, Bass Coast Ratepayers and Residents Association.