We now find ourselves with a Council congratulating themselves on achieving so many of the goals set last year.
Plenty of grants for this and that, heaps of photo opportunities and smiling faces to be seen there. Lots of backslapping observed too between some Councillors!
But, what about the big objectives? The Great Southern Rail Trail extensions are at a ‘pea & thimble’ stage. No lease of the railway land, so why is ratepayer money being expended on this ‘mirage’ before that lease is obtained?
Injudicious expenditure extends to the cost/benefit analysis currently underway, and to designing a Korumburra Community Hub building for a site that may not be obtainable, or even best suited. That design most likely has not allowed for the population growth envisaged in the Growth for Reduced Rates (GfRR) plan.
When was the last time the community was updated on the advocacy progress about the listed ‘Priority Project’ – the return of the trains to Leongatha?
This project is no longer even mentioned by Mr Tim Tamlin and appears to have been removed completely from the new set of target projects. Not only is it not a ‘Priority Project’, it’s not even listed at all.
If the aim is to increase the rates base by increasing the population, then it makes good sense for the return of the rail to be high priority. Especially so, when both State and Federal Governments have country rail upgrades on their agenda.
So Councillors, what happened to the promised rate cut of 3%? How did that morph into a 2.5% increase for this year – with the conservative projection that the same increase level will be required for a further 15 years?
Is it because you do not understand what the GfRR plan can do for rate increase constraint? The first iteration of that plan has been in your hands for around two months and the soft launch took place on Tuesday, 4 March 2019 (and noted that no Councillor bothered to attend). The ‘fleshed out’ version was presented to Council at the General Meeting on 20 March 2019.
What I want to know is which of you voted to overturn the commitment to reduce rates by 3% and replace it with the 2.5% increase? Who moved the motion and who seconded it?
This is the problem created by all the important matters, being decided behind closed doors and then presented at the Open Session of council with token debate, followed by a unanimous decision.
This modus operandi leaves the constituents in a position, where it is impossible to evaluate the worth of individual Councillors. We never get to know who they really are, we only get to know who they say they are.
Not singling any individual out, but Cr Rosemary Cousin’s ‘belled the cat’ when she said: “I take every issue as it comes before Council. I will not always have the majority supporting my views, but I will demand the right to be heard fairly, and take the Council’s majority decisions on the chin under these circumstances – working always for the betterment of the community” (Ref. Letter to the Editor, p4, Mirboo North Times, Wednesday 20 March, 2019).
That’s all well and good Cr Cousins, but not when you appear in public to support a motion you did not support behind closed doors.
I have to admit, as a result of my individual contact with each Councillor over the last few months, I expected better from some, than has eventuated. I still favour democracy over dictatorship – but wonder, where do we go from here?
John McCombe, Leongatha.