One item in the current agenda is fascinating in what it might portend for Glen Eira – especially with a new CEO at the helm. We draw readers’ attention to the following –

  • Council will NOT BE PROCEEDING with its application for a 1.42% rise above the rate cap.

ITEM 9.14 – RATE CAPPING

Things to note regarding the decision not to proceed with the ‘variation’ to the rate cap:

  • A formal council resolution is sought. No formal resolution was sought under Newton to apply for a variation
  • Community consultation was sought in January/February 2016 by external consultants (although not ‘advertised’ and certainly not announced by any official council statement)
  • Result of this consultation is: It is clear that in the absence of better community information and understanding of Council’s finances, and a shared sense of priority around the use of funds generated through a variation, there is insufficient community support to apply for a variation to the rate cap at this time.
  • Figure of $24m shortfall over the ten years of the Strategic Resource Plan if rates capped, necessitating the development of a new Community Plan…..which will seek wide community input on priorities for the next ten years….. This is forecast to be started in 2016 and will be the subject of a further paper to Council.

Why this decision has been made is entirely open to conjecture and only time will tell. We posit the following as some possibilities underpinning this decision:

  • The influence of the new CEO?
  • Council realising that they may not be successful in their application?
  • Strong community opposition on top of all the other problems (ie planning)?
  • Laying the ground for service reductions and vastly increased charges?
  • The fact that councils had to provide evidence in any submission on how the views of ratepayers and the community have been taken into account in proposing the higher rate cap. In Glen Eira there had been no ‘consultation’ of course. Hence a legal obstacle perhaps?

The positives? If there is to be genuine consultation on a new Community Plan, then it is imperative that residents be provided with full information; that their views not only be listened to, but ultimately acted upon through integration and implementation into any subsequent Council Plan/Resource Strategic Plan.

Needless to say, time will tell whether this represents a real shift in culture or whether it is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

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