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Welcome to Ratepayers Victoria Incorporated, advocating for Collaboration, Accountability & Transparency. Our 2022 vision is a future where Victorian ratepayers are highly connected, value adding and  engaging to increase their councils’ and state agencies’ propensity to achieve higher council rates affordability and local liveability. Our blog highlights the latest news and issues affecting ratepayers. Visit our Facebook.

Ratepayers Vic 2019 News letter

Dear Ratepayers and Supporter.
RPV wish to advise you of the progress that we have made over recent times.
As President I am very proud that we have opened up eight new branches in the last 15 months.
ALL new branches are now providing their ratepayers with advice and guidance regarding problems they may encounter with their councils.
It is important to understand that once we assist with the forming of the new ratepayer group, the branch runs their own group as they see fit and as earlier stated we are there for advice and guidance. Some 8 to 10 inquiries are received a week for advice and guidance from our new branches.
The new branches opened are Geelong, Bendigo, Shepparton, Warrnambool, Sale, Maribyrnong, Horsham and Port Phillip.
As you can imagine councils do not like “Ratepayer Groups”
It is a fact that ratepayer groups are becoming a force to be dealt with by councils.
Our new ratepayer group in Bendigo advised us early in 2018 that the Bendigo Council were trying to acquire the land, of 1000 acres, from a family called Carter at Marong just north of Bendigo.
This family has had the farm for some 100 years and want to retain it.
RPV told Peter, the secretary at Bendigo, they cannot do that, but as the secretary said they are pushing ahead to implement a local by law where they could take over the land. It would seem that the Council had the intent to make the land “industrial land” once they had possession and would then turn the land into “residential land” which would create a huge profit for Council.
In July Peter advised us that Bendigo had indeed put through a local bylaw to acquire this land.
RPV then went into support the Carter family and wrote a very strong letter to the Local Government Minister and the Premier basically saying this is Australia and this cannot happen here. We were very pleased and surprised when some 7 days later the Planning Minister overturned the decision of the Bendigo Council and the Carter family retained their farm. A great example of the power of a ratepayer group.
The newly formed ratepayer group at Maribyrnong set up a stall at the local Footscray Festival recently and obtained the contacts of over 150 people who want to join their group. Ratepayers are “crying out” for assistance. REMEMBER THAT OLD CLICHÉ “United we stand divided we fall”.
You may be aware that some three years ago the then Local Government Minister, Natalie Hutchins ordered a review of the Local Government Act which had not been touched, outside of some amendments, since 1989. The review which was finished in July last year was very biased towards Councils.
This now lapsed draft carried the word “Councils MAY do this and May do that” some 330 times. Many good pieces of legalization that were in the present 1989 LG Act were removed in this lapsed draft.
RPV have been aware of this draft and have done a lot of work with the Upper House Members to point out the failings of this draft. Fortunately for our ratepayers of Victoria the Upper house had the numbers and rejected this draft and sent it back to the lower house for adjustments and with the State Elections held on the 24th November 2018 that draft has now lapsed.
We realized that the present Local Government Minister could table this draft again at any time, so we went into action and with the advice of a very clever person put together an excellent letter to the Local Government Minister, the Premier and all 80 State Parliamentarians to point out the failings of this lapsed draft. These Parliamentarians are the members who have to vote on this new LG Act when it is presented on the floor of Parliament for debate and they are the ones who will vote on the Bill. This letter was sent out personally to all the Parliamentarians. My committee has done a great job with this project. The very pleasing result of “the letter” is that after the Local Government Minister read the letter, he contacted RPV and ask that we meet him to have “a chat”. This is great news for our ratepayers.
Over recent months we have been invited to speak and be interviewed at parliamentary hearings. Not too sure about these hearings as nothing seems to come out of them. Local Government have excellent “spin doctors” to listen to the ratepayer and tell you what they think you want to hear and then do as they please.
RPV have been pushing for a Royal Commission into the operations of councils in Victoria.
There seems to be little accountability in the present council system. Questions we want answered are: how ratepayers money is being spent, why are contractors getting up to four times more to do a council project than in the private sector, why are some 70% of our rate payments being spent on council salaries. There is no control over who is issued a council credit card and how much is spent on that card and many more problems.
RPV have come a long way in recent times, but there is so much more to do.
There has been a culture allowed to develop over the last 20 years and we will not change that overnight.
One of the big challenges we have is to get these departments, IBAC-Auditor General-Ombudsman and the Inspectorate who are there to protect the ratepayers, is to get them to do the job they are elected to do.
Too often we hear these words “councils told us this and councils told us that” and in a lot of cases, those bodies believe what councils tell them, and this is not acceptable.
As we all know that is a disaster for the ratepayer, but RPV can assure you that we will not rest until we get this culture changed.
Over recent times we have built up an excellent communication with the media, which is so important.
We are aware there are some small groups out there who are not aware of RPV and it is so important that we connect with those groups.Power is in numbers so please encourage your friends and neighbours to join their local ratepayer group.
Our contact details are below.

Yours Sincerely,
Jack Davis JP
President
Phone 0412 238 974
Ratepayersvic@outlook.com

Nothing changed after ten years

Wednesday 6th May 2009 (COPY OF TRANSCRIPT)
Inga MLC Peulich to request Additional changes to the Local Government Act
Inga Peulich Member for South Eastern Metropolitan Region will tonight ask the Minister for Local Government to ban ALP caucus meetings on council.
Ms Peulich said that when two ALP Councillors are on council must caucus on the appointment of the Mayor,deputy Mayor, and the CEO. WHEN THREE OR MORE COUNCILLORS ARE ON COUNCIL THEY MUST CAUCUS AND HAVE A Pre ARRANGED VOTE ON EVERY ISSUE.

The Ombudsman’s report into the Brimbank Council released today describes a labor-dominated faction serving its own political agenda, making decisions contrary to the best interest of the community and breaching the Local Government ACT and electoral Act,”MS PEULICH SAID,,

“It found ALP Councillors and senior officials engaged in bulling, intimidation, threats political corruption and missuse of public funds.”

“To be an ALP Councillor you are told to ignore those that elected you and to listen to a collective group ensuring that at pre arranged meetings of ALP Councillors and sympathisers the decision has already been made before the council meeting,” Ms PEULICH said.

That is not what the community want in a local Councillor and the intimidation in many local councils from the ALP hierarchy is what I WILL ADDRESS TONIGHT.”
MS Peulich will also call for an end to decisions making behind closed doors known as information sessions.

Decisions should be debated and decided in open council meetings with only a narrow range of exceptions. The exception could be discussed in camera meetings if they dealt with legal matters, matters of confidence or staff matters,: Ms Peulich said.

The Best insurance Against Corruption in Local Government is a culture of open and accountable and transparent decision making.”

Ratepayers Victoria Inc is at Yarraville Festival

Our stand with Maribyrnong Ratepayers Group at the Yarraville Festival 2019 on the weekend, brought concerned residents together.
They shared experiences of the effect of unfair Rate assessments (and other Council practices), that make living in the municipality more costly.
One ratepayer that paid us a visit was Jerry Creaney (from next door Williamstown) who had a lengthy chin wag with our Vice President of Ratepayers Victoria, Frank Sullivan.
We are pleased to announce that a Ratepayer Group for Hobsons Bay is now underway. https://www.facebook.com/Greenwichcove/

Charges for former council manager

VICTORIA’S premier anti-corruption commission has laid 79 charges, including obtaining property by deception, making false documents, using false documents and misconduct in public office, against a former Frankston Council manager.
The charges were laid on 14 January after an IBAC investigation into whether “improper procurement practices were used to obtain Frankston City Council funds.”
A supplier of services to council, an owner of an electrical company, was on 7 January charged with 78 similar offences.
The investigation was opened after Frankston Council self reported suspicions of a possible breach.
An IBAC statement said that “under mandatory notification requirements that came into effect in 2016, all heads of Victorian public sector departments and agencies, including council CEOs, must by law notify IBAC of any matter they suspect, on reasonable grounds, involves corrupt conduct.”
The charges are expected to be heard at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 30 January.
Frankston Council CEO Dennis Hovenden said “approximately 12 months ago council officers identified possible breaches in process involving a former council manager.
“Once aware, council immediately reported the possible breach to IBAC and has since been assisting with the investigation.
“As the matter is now before the court, council will be making no further comment, other than to say the manager in question is no longer an employee of Frankston City Council.”
First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 29 January 2019

NEWS FROM BAYSIDE. – JANUARY 23rd 2019

Recent questions put to Bayside Council have managed to expose the systematic “creaming off”, of a substantial part of the General Rate.
Council, in its budget documents, shows how the General Rate, User Rates and Charges, and Other Income, is to be spent. This information is presented, in considerable detail, in the Annual Budget and Source of Capital Funds document.
When these funds are assigned to be spent, the financial interest of ratepayers is protected by a simple clause in the Procurement Policy. This clause states:
“6.1.11 Responsible Financial Management
The principle of responsible financial management must be applied to all procurement activities. This includes ensuring that existing funds within an approved budget, or source of funds, is established prior to the commencement of any procurement action, for the supply of goods, services or works.”
There are numerous instances of Council staff improperly spending money without proper budget authority. The most obvious of these instances is found in the Budget Surplus. This is, however, only part of the funds misused. In the 2018/19 budget, the rates planned to be collected, which are not assigned a purchasing task, reaches more than $38 million. When this is compared to the amount planned to be raised by the General Rate, of $74,160,052. It represents 51.26% of the rate.
Council may dip into the surplus rates if a need arises during the year. However, this transfer of purpose cannot be made unless the formal process of preparing a revised budget is carried out.
Bayside Ratepayers’ Group is suggesting to all ratepayers in Bayside that they could defer payment of 51.26% of the Residential Rate. This will protect ratepayers’ money against misuse until such time as Council introduces a revised budget. If the revised budget is not approved, ratepayers can look forward to a credit, of a greater amount than that deferred, being properly credited to their account on 30th June. This is not a refusal to pay the rate – it is simply a deferment until such time as proper spending authority is obtained.
End of Page; Rev1, 220119. Discussion to bra.reynolds088@gmail.com

Bully boy Lake still at it

bully boy Cr Lake still a bully
Posted on November 2, 2018 by ratep
1
Cr Lakes history with Monash Council in regards to his constant bulling is well documented and goes back a long way.
To name a few.
• Verbal and sexist remarks to Cr Mc Gee – this matter was referred to the Sexual Discrimination Committee.
• As Mayor his intrusion at Cr Morrissey’s place of business that resulted in a court order against Lake.
• Cr Jenny Solity who had a mental break down over his attacks on her.
• Not forgetting his misleading accusation at a council meeting in regards to Huntingdale Hall Management of inappropriate management of hall funds, causing my wife Beaty Davis, who was at that time the Secretary, to stress out so much to see her name dragged through the newspaper, that she had a heart attack.
This accusation was later proven by a council audit officer to be a false and misleading accusation.
• Today’s (Tuesday 30/10/18) Herald Sun is another example of his bullying.
His comment that stated the President of the Mulgrave Club: quote The country clubs directors are Pasty old white men.
Lakes comment resulted in a complaint to the Human Rights Committee.
Not forgetting in 2013 Lake was dumped as candigate for Hotham when it was reported he verbally abused a female councillor at a council meeting
The list goes on and on.
Any apology by Lake now would be meaningless.
Councilor Lake should be stood down subject to the complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights.
Finally the Mayor Cr Paul Kisaris should not have allowed Councilor Lake to continue with his bullying comments at a council meeting.
Jack Davis
Ratepayers vic

Snouts in the trough

Heradsun 27/12/18
John Masanauskas
And Laura McFadzean
Snouts in the trough
Council CEOs earn more than our Premier

Local Council bosses in Melbourne are getting average annual Salaries higher than Premier Daniel Andrews.
Municipal chief executive officers are earning up to $460.000 as councils face growing pressure to rein in rate rises and other operational costs.
In 2017-18 the average pay packet for a metro council CEO was about $392,000 a Herald Sun survey has found.
By comparison, Mr Andrews gets $383,703 a year plus allowances, while Prime Minister Scott Morrison earns $527,852 plus allowances.
The top CEO earner last year was City of Melbourne boss Ben Rimmer with a package of $460,000.
Mr Rimmer left this month after a tumultuous year which saw the resignation of former Lord Mayor Robert Doyle over a sexual harassment scandal.
Other well paid chiefs included Greater Dandenong’s John Bennie $440,000 Boroondara.s Phillip Storer $430,000 and Mornington Peninsula’s former boss Carl Cowie $410,000 Ex-Victoria Police chief commissioner Simon Overland took home $340,000 as CEO of Whittlesea, council Earlier this month five councillors refused to attend a council meeting in protest against Mr Overland continuing in the role amid the Lawyer X scandal.
MR Overland said in a video message the police issue had nothing to do with his work at Whittlesea , but a council meeting’s agenda last Friday had a notice of motion about “employment matters involving CEO” The matter was held in secret and no information about the result has been released by council.
Among lower paid metro chief executives were metro chief executives were Maroondah councils Steve Kozlowski and Nillumbik Shire’s former CEO Mark Stoermer ON $330,000.
A Ratepayers Victoria spokesperson Jack Davis SAID COUNCIL CEO’S were on fat salaries while rates were excessive.
“Council have all got their Snouts in the Troughs”he said.
“There’s no trnansparency the more the CEO’S GET THE MORE the counncillors get.”
Mr Davis said CEO selection processes were out of date,and laws were needed to ensure councils were accountable to their communities.

Ratepayers concern ignored

A controversial proposal to develop Dorothy Laver Reserve in Glen Iris came to a head on December 10 with six councillors voting to proceed against a wave of protest from residents and the lacrosse cricket club who has called the reserve home for decades. At the end of this meeting, dozens of angry residents loudly protested within chambers.

Dorothy Laver herself welcomed the Camberwell Lacrosse club to the reserve named in her honour in the early 1980’s. The club have cohabited with the Glen Iris Cricket club and recreational users ever since.

The development will see the location become a soccer facility which the Council refer to as a “community facility”. The rate paying residents are angry that they are losing access to the reserve for the exclusive use by a soccer club who represent approximately 1.5% of the Boroondara population. One of the clubs, the Alamein FC was established in 2015.

The ever changing and confusing public relations disaster has been steered by Officers for months and was originally based on a proposal to lay $4.5m worth of synthetic turf in the area which severely floods up to twice a year.

Residents and environmental groups fought for months to have the synthetic turf proposal abandoned, and it was only a week before the December 10 vote that the Officer conceded the synthetic should be abandoned. The scope of works, changed only a week before the vote and without community consultation has now added road and bike path realignment, road work and creation of additional car spaces by removing vegetation.

A traffic and environmental impact study has not been done, and residents are angry that hundreds of extra cars resulting from a soccer development will add to the already dangerous and congested residential streets never designed for such high levels of traffic.

No allowance has been given for the demand on parking by the East Malvern Football club on the adjacent oval who rely on this area for parking. In addition, Stonnington residents living in close proximity to Dorothy Laver Reserve were not notified by Boroondara Officers of the proposed changes.

Cr. Jim Parke questioned why it had taken a $5000 consultant report to confirm what everybody already knew – it was a flood zone. Officer Mackinnon argued that he had based his proposal on information from Melbourne Water flood charts. The proposal, described by Cr. Jim Parke as “a train wreck” has torn at the very heart of the community, created anguish and hurt amongst sports clubs but united the community.

There is deep distrust towards Boroondara council now by residents who feel there has been no transparency and no proper community consultation. The proposal passed on December 10 is significantly changed from the original, which the community argues should have resulted in its full abandonment.

Councillors Jim Parke and Felicity Sinfield agree, both of whom motioned and argued the merits for its abandonment.

Cr. Steve Hurd has described the protest as “childish tantrums” with “bullying” that was “disgraceful”. He stated that it did the protest “no good”. Mayor Jane Addis wrote in one email that the unrest in the community had been caused by “a handful of residents telling so many lies”.

The community continue to question the future of development at Dorothy Laver Reserve and what the cost will be. Boroondara continue to state that they support the facility as a ‘WNPL’ (Premier League soccer) site, yet deny they will support mandatory WNPL facility requirements such as electric scoreboards, 1.8m fencing, PA systems and undercover seating.

There are currently 2,600 petition signatures and over 1200 letters of objection were submitted to Councillors and the CEO. Protest signage and orange ribbons supporting the Save Dorothy Laver Reserve campaign continue to cover the neighbourhood.

Protest lobby representatives continue to lobby for the development to be abandoned and that all avenues will be investigated to receive fair representation of the community’s wish to retain Dorothy Laver Reserve as it is.
Boroondara resident and Ratepayer

keep an eye on council rates

Ratepayers Victoria Inc
October 2018 ·
RATE CAP – KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR COUNCIL FOR US.
This is the third year that a cap on council rates has been imposed by the State Government. The maximum rates are allowed to increase in 2017-18 is 2.25%.

The cap only applies to rates and not other council fees or charges. We have already seen some councils trying to get around the rate cap by introducing a new charge, e.g. City of Yarra trying to slug residents with a new cash grab of $247 to have rubbish collected….

Its only a matter of time Victoria is heading down the same road as the Paris Riots

Council rates and charges are become a serious concern for rate payers
The current model presents the biggest cost or impost or burden to people. Farmers and small businesses. Cost shifting over the past 30 years from State to Councils has resulted in increases to rate which have become unaffordable. The groundswell of discontent is because of the inability to pay resulting as a major factor of poverty and significant impediment to people, farmers, families and small businesses. Council rates are causing people hardships to an extent they are humiliate and despair to those that have difficulty or cannot pay. Council rates are causing significant financial strain which directly contribute to mental stress and family and business problems and breakdowns.
Over 3 decades successive State Governments have either forced or hoodwinked Councils to force ratepayers to fund goods and services that have traditionally been provided by the State. There seems no end to this trend whereby the State Parliament has deduced Councils to mere tax collectors for the State. We have arrived at a point in time where State taxes have been conveniently disguised as Council rates simply to shift the burden from the State to Councils for no other reason other than to improve the State budget. At this rate of transfer of responsibility will render the States irrelevant.
The fact that Victorian Councils are able to calculate and impose rates which vary wildly create anomalies which are in fact corrupt by definition. If the value of land and improvements is the basis on which the ability to pay is based, then this assumption must be applied across all Victorian Councils in order to be fair, just and equitable to all. In this respect the argument is that people who own properties with the same value pay the same Council rates. After all, how can owners of properties of the same value be asked to pay vastly different rates? If people cannot afford the goods and services then they cannot be expected to fund something they cannot afford. If the State government wishes to provide goods and services for which the ratepayers cannot afford then the money must come from the State Treasury! Councils demand huge rate for vastly different amounts for no apparent reason.
Council rates must be based on a formula taking into account of actual income and the ability to pay within household and business expenditure. Either all land is subject to be rated, or no land at all, because too few are forced to pay way too much.
Jack Davis
President
Ratepayers Victoria Inc