State government announce full review into Victoria’s rating system

Rachel Clayton, Maribyrnong Leader
April 17, 2019 11:45am

A full review of Victoria’s rate system is “long overdue” according to Ratepayers Victoria.
The group’s vice president Frank Sullivan met with local government minister Adem Somyurek and the valuer-general yesterday and said it was clear the current rating system was “not fair” and “completely unjust”.
The State Government announced a full review of Victoria’s rating system this morning to ensure councils were held accountable to ratepayers.
The review will be undertaken by an independent panel led by former Royal Children’s Hospital and City of Melbourne chief executive Dr Kathy Alexander.
The panel will look at:
• local government rates and charges;
• rating exemptions and concessions and their application to various classes of land, including farm land;
• the autonomy of local governments to apply a rating system that takes into account local factors; and
• exemptions and discounts for local government rates the impacts any recommended changes would have on councils, ratepayers and residents.
The Fair Go Rates cap, currently at 2.5 per cent, will remain in place.
Mr Sullivan said the review was well overdue.
“A ratepayer in Maribyrnong with a million dollar home will be paying $6000 to $7000 in rates while I live in Knox with a nice, almost-million dollar home and pay $1700 in rates,” he said.

Meeting with Ombudsman

Today Tuesday 9th April 2019
We at the invitation of the ombudsman staff in regards to councils policy regarding Ratepayers Complaints.
After 2 hours of informing the ombudsman staff of our dissatisfaction with councils, I concluded that at last we were making progress.
I am hopeful that the results of that meeting will progress our concerns
Jack Davis JP
President Ratepayers Victoria

IBAC CHARGE FOUR IN CASH-FOR-STACKS PROBE

MORE LAW AND ORDER
IBAC laid charges last week after its 15-month Operation Naxos investigation into the alleged “cash-for-stacks” scheme, which was revealed by the Herald Sun last year.
Justin Mammarella, a former Melton mayor, had won a preselection battle to replace ex-Labor MP Don Nardella, who retired from politics after an expenses scandal. Picture: Supplied
Whistleblowers alleged parliament had been billed for false ¬invoices for printing work that had never been done, with taxpayers’ money ¬instead funnelled to pay for Labor Party memberships.
The scheme allegedly involved invoices worth as much as $200,000.
It is understood IBAC is continuing to probe the printing rort allegations

Monash bulletin by USA

Sent: 27 March, 2019 2:02 PM
Subject: re monash bulletin
According to Monash Council No Australia company have the qualification to produce a monthly Bulletin.
————————————————————-
Email received from Monash Council

Good Afternoon Jack
Council has changed its process for the electronic delivery of the Monash Bulletin and is now using Mailchimp to send its electronic newsletters. Mailchimp is a company based in the USA. Council only provides Mailchimp with information that is necessary to enable the newsletters to be sent out. This information is held securely by Mailchimp on servers in the USA. Their privacy policy can be found at Mailchimp: Privacy Policy.
To opt out of receiving the Monash Bulletin electronically you can:
• Choose the ‘unsubscribe’ option provided in the newsletter email;
• Contact us on 03 9518 3555 or by email at mail@monash.vic.gov.au

Kind Regards,
www.monash.vic.gov.au

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