2017 and a brand new RV strategy

Ratepayers Victoria (RV) is starting the new year with a new five years strategy plan.  This plan directs our focus to create a 2022 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. 

To realise this future, there are 3 objectives to be achieved within the next 5 years (2017 – 2022) : RV will become a platform organisation that has the capacity to

  • Connect ratepayers among themselves, and network with other local government (LG) stakeholders
  • Aggregate information resources and capabilities to better address local and statewide challenges and opportunities in LG
  • Mobilize ratepayers to engage in strategic partnerships and leveraging technology to improve problem solving and accessing governance tools.

We have commenced and planning projects to achieve these objectives – see here to view current project list.

This five years strategy plan also involve a platform strategy, of which its digital form is already in early development and available online. Click here to view the current version of PlatformRV.

A Christmas Reflection

Hi everyone

Christmas and the end of the year are getting close. Before the new year comes, we would like to share with you a reflective update about our past achievements over the last 4 yours and the exciting future direction  Ratepayers Victoria is moving towards.

Past to Present Accomplishments:

In 2012, Ratepayers Victoria started a campaign to transform into advocacy organization. Why we carried out this strategic transformation? It is to empower our networks of ratepayer groups to become advocates for their local community, to have greater propensity and sustainable capacity to influence change in councils to better engage and response to their communities and keep rates affordable.

Far too often we heard from our networks of ratepayer groups that their councils jeered at them for being small associations, disenfranchising their individual members, including being adverse towards them. Changing these groups’ business model to become an advocacy organisations, networked and connected via a common Ratepayers Victoria’ platform, not only negates such treatment, but also increase their capacity to quickly build a stronger collective voice and be more mobilized to take enduring actions, though sometimes can be long and painful, but with endurance, persistence and resilience will ultimately lead to  improving situations and relationships.

Becoming an advocacy organisation and as part of Ratepayers Victoria’s networks also allow groups to come together as a civil society collective, linked by common interests and shared knowledge and actions to improve good governance practices in councils, the root cause of many local issues, including rates affordability. A civil society is formally recognised as the third tier of society, along with government and businesses.

Our strategic advocacy development journey over the last four years has achieved the following:

  1. Formal involvement in making LG reforms. Ratepayers Victoria represented Victorian ratepayers in the development of the Fair Go Rates policy, which benefits all ratepayers but not effectively supported by many councils and their peak bodies, because it curtails their expenses and requires showing justification transparency and financial accountability in rates setting. Today, we continue to monitor through our networks and report rates capping resistance tactics, to ensure rates capping compliance is sustained and increase effectiveness in future years.   Ratepayers Victoria also sits in the steering committee for enhancing the Local Government Performance Reporting Framework (LGPRF), which is a performance management tool for increasing and ensuring councils’ financial, service and governance performance. We are taking a hands on contribution to develop governance key performance indicators (KPIs), which currently is lacking and is no more than a tokenistic checklist.
  2. Developing ratepayers’ capacity to exercise local governance overseeing, which involves taking a agile approach in trialling processes and tools to check and report compliance violations and offences, aiming to inform higher authorities better understand and response to local grass root governance issues and practice gaps in councils.  The milestones we accomplished is having regular meeting access to higher authorities and greater and formalizing recognition as a value adding contributor to reforms development.
  3. Finding new ways to sustain ratepayers groups, create new ones with guided help, and regionalise ratepayer groups for strategic positioning. Eastern Ratepayers was formed, consolidating groups from Knox, Monash, Casey and Cardinia, who meet regularly and engage in collaborative local and regional problem solving, etc. We helped create two new ratepayer groups in Darebin and Mildura.
  4. Building and leveraging strategic partnerships with other groups and businesses, to create and innovate value adds that mutually benefit each other. The first prototype was partnering with Oursay to trial a governance evaluation survey, to better understand and confirm the common governance issues experienced by ratepayers.
  5. Prototyping processes and tools to increase ratepayer groups’ role in supporting the right candidates in council election. In the 2016 election period, we trialled the process of giving Ratepayers Victoria branded endorsement to local groups’ recommended candidates and prototyped an online information tool for helping voters make informed decisions in selecting running candidates.

We achieved these strategic milestones while continuing day to day support to our networks. These strategic and operational achievements are the effort of a small team of volunteering but high performing advocate leaders, able to create and expand their spheres of influences through sharing their knowledge, talents and networks.

The Next Strategic Positioning:

Over the festive break, we are developing a strategy plan for the next 5 years, ensuring Ratepayers Victoria is strategically positioned to strengthen and sustain ratepayers voice and influence, and increase achievements of high impact strategic outcomes that deliver both local and state-wide benefits. The scope of strategic positioning is to modernise ratepayers’ participation in council affairs and have sustainable relationships with higher authorities to increase and sustain council integrity, transparency and responsiveness to local communities and the state. Ratepayers will expand its advocacy business model to become platform oriented one, so that ratepayers can easily connect, access and share knowledge, talents and resources to increase their sphere of influence and making value adding contributions in councils. In the new year, we will share more insights about this strategy plan.

Folks, do have a wonderful and joyful Christmas, and a very happy and safe new year.

Merry xmas,

Rate Capping is now a reality

One behalf of Victorian ratepayers, Ratepayers Victorian would like to thank Minister Hutchins and her crew, other ALP MPs, Essential Services Commission (ESC) and Local Government Victoria (LGV)  for making this happen. We also like to extend our appreciation to the opposition Shadow LG Minister Davis and other Liberal MPs, who put aside their political differences in the interest of all Victorian ratepayers first, and supported the bill to be passed.Unfortunately the Greens did not support the bill.

The rate capping policy (also called the Fair Go Rates system) is a major win and a  Christmas present for ratepayers.

The bill bill was passed in the Legislative Council, becoming law after receiving  Royal Assent.  It will stop or reduce councils raising their rates above a cap, based on the Melbourne Consumer Price Index (CPI).  It is one of the first of many reforms to come, which would benefit ratepayers.

Local Government Victoria is also giving ratepayers a Christmas present too, the Know Your Council website.

VICTORIANS will be able to keep a closer eye on their councils thanks to a new website allowing users to compare local government performance.

The Know Your Council site was launched last night and provides detailed records on every metropolitan, regional and interface council in Victoria.”People now have access to information on 66 key indicators including rates revenue, expenditure, missed bin collections and even the number of missing pets found.Data on roads, maternal and child health, food safety, aquatic facilities and libraries is also available” (Herald Sun Leader, 27 Nov 2015).

The Key Performance Indicators’ (KPI) measures in this website will help ratepayers use the information to check on the good governance, financial. asset and service management performance of their councils. This means the opportunistic councils would like it more difficult to bamboozle their communities with BS in justifying their preferred decision directions and future rate rises above CPI. It is worthwhile for active ratepayers to understand how these KPI works – the information is in the Local Government Better Practice Guide Indicator Workbook

The Essential Services Commission (ESC) will have greater oversight of council spending, playing an important role in ensuring ongoing compliance and monitoring of overall outcomes for communities. Ratepayer Vic and our networks will help ensure councils comply 110% to the policy – watch this space develops.

Ratepayers’ Strategy Plan

We have drafted a strategy plan for enabling and empower ratepayers to monitor and report their councils over matters like good governance and operating performance:

 

How do we deliver the digital platform:

Note:  Click here to help us test a work in progress beta version of the annual good governance survey. Information about our strategic partner is in this website http://oursay.org/.