Wow! What a wonderful Council Agenda for the July 24 meeting.
My three top picks – A revised rational Rating Strategy which takes the needs of all ratepayers into account and, as far as possible, whilst meeting rating principles, provides an equitable distribution of our rates burden.
A review of the Rates and Charges Hardship Policy including benchmarking against other Councils has to be completed by June 2020.
What a difference! Previously Council changed rating strategy on a single submission with no strategic justification and against legal advice.
The deliberations of the 2019 Rating Strategy Committee were hijacked with Councillors personally proposing rating models to pursue their agenda of favourable treatment for a specific class of ratepayer based on absurd economic analysis.
My second pick is an initiative in the Council Plan. The revised Council Plan proposes that further research and community consultation is undertaken, and a Sustainable Services Strategy is developed.
This strategy considers all of the services that Council provides and identifies operational and service delivery efficiency opportunities.
What a difference! Real information to be collected and opportunities actually identified for productivity enhancement and efficiency savings which can be reflected in our annual Budget.
Previously Councillors simply expressed outrage, produced confected statistics and put distorted analysis on the table which overrode attempts at rational and reasonable debate.
The final pick is another new initiative in the Council Plan: Develop and implement a ‘Community Leadership Education Program’ to enhance understanding of the role and purpose of Local Government, the services provided by Council, legislative and resource constraints, financial position and the roles and responsibilities of Councillors and the organisation.
What a difference! If we encourage our friends, neighbours, business colleagues to undertake this program, then by October 2021, there should be a pool of fresh talented people who understand Local Government, who understand the principles of governance and understand when there is a conflict of interest. We can then vote to elect them to Council. No more same old same old!
We could have a Council with good leadership based on sound governance principles and a safe working environment for Council staff.
Thank you to the Administrator and the hardworking Council staff who have assisted her [to] revise these three vital documents for all of us – Rating Strategy, Annual Budget and Council Plan. Hopefully our Shire will soon be back to living up to our vision of a wonderful place to live and work.
Megan Knight, Foster.