The recent actions by the Local Government Minister the Hon. Adem Somyurek in preparing to sack the South Gippsland Shire Councillors and install an Administrator are a cause for great concern and a serious threat to our democratic rights. And detrimental to our interests.
At a sham public meeting organised by supporters of a disgruntled councillor, upset at losing all influence in an orchestrated display of frenzy, voted in favour of the dismissal of the current Council. An appointed Administrator – and a crew of public servants – is definitely not in our best interest.
The Proposed 2019-20 Budget, a disaster in desperate need of a drastic overhaul, is a prime example. I think this Budget, a direct responsibility of the CEO, is burdening ratepayers with problems that will be with us for many years to come. That is on top of one of the highest council rates accompanied by one of the lowest community satisfaction ratings in Victoria.
To list all failings of the Proposed Budget and 4 Year Plan would be too lengthy to document here. However, immediate intervention and drastic changes must be made for the sake of ratepayers and residents who deserve better than such poor governance.
Money salted away in various accounts and accumulated over many years on the back of long-suffering ratepayers with sky high council Rates have resulted in Cash Reserves in 2017 of $ 26.3 million and in 2018 a very high of $ 29.7 million. Virtually all of this will be spent (wasted) at an unprecedented rate until there is only a pitiful $ 2.4 million left in 2022.
I think that must raise red flags and loud alarms all over the place. Add a few shockers into the mix, such as the additional $3.6 million borrowed from the Treasury Corporation of Victoria to pay for the re-development of the Mirboo North Swimming Pool Complex, and ratepayers can be truly alarmed at this bureaucratic Splash of Cash. The underlying loss for this financial year is another shocker.
I believe that an appointed Administrator is not the best placed authority to be in charge of a complete overhaul of this budget and Four-Year Plan and we ratepayers may well shape up as badly affected collateral damage. As such, dismissal of the current council is very much against the interest of us ratepayers.
I believe that in the absence of proper professionalism and sadly lacking the expertise to facilitate this overhaul with the present bureaucracy headed by the CEO, a specialist firm such as DeLoitte, KPMG, or Grant Thornton must be engaged to bring this budget into the real world and at least provide a badly needed foundation to build on for now and for the future. This is urgent and of utmost importance. Compared with the enormous waste on legal and consulting fees, $ 1.1 million, in 2018 and no doubt much more in this financial year, this expenditure would very small and of enormous benefit.
We, the long-suffering ratepayers, do not deserve our democratically elected representatives removed as a result of self-serving ex-councillors only interested in their own narrow, little world.
This council who has demonstrated they are on the right track after having to deal with the mess left behind by the previous council, in particular the gang of six, must continue to complete their most difficult task to bring this bureaucracy into the real world.
Gus Blaauw, Venus Bay.
Editor: Isn’t the task of compiling the budget one of the main roles for council each year? If the budget isn’t all it should be, shouldn’t the existing councillors accept responsibility for that?