Heraldsun 9/5/17 Mayor Challenges peers by Ian Royall
The Mayor of an outer Melbourne council that is freezing residents rates next year, says his counterparts aren’t doing enough to cut costs.
Nillumbik is set to be the only Victorian Council to put a hold on rates next year,
Defying many who will push for rises of up to 2 per cent.
Mayor Peter Clarke claimed other councils were automatically putting up their rates by 2 per cent – The current state government limit.
No Victorian Council froze rate bills in this current year.
As the state’s 79 Councils finalise their draft budgets for the next financial year.to an extended August31 deadline,Cr Clarke said local governments had to be “smarter”
the former Melbourne city councillor reduced his own income,sold the mayoral car and slashed advertising that promoted the mayor.
those three measures saved more than $100,000. Its not that hard to start finding the money, he said.
The council froze salaries and made four senior directors redundant last week
Cr Clarke said the exits were a realignment of staff” which meant fewer managers and more staff on the ground.
look at every line item in detail. I don’t think people are ding that.
” They look at what they did last year and then add more to it” he said ” I haven’t spoken to another mayor at another council who has said they’ve had a serious shot at not putting their rates up. They automatically went for the cap and said, “Why wouldn’t you do it.
Cr Clarke said he knew he was out of step with his counterparts across the state.
Our focus is what our ratepayers are telling us,not how much you can spend,he said. “Its about getting better services for the same dollar,” He said Nillumbik had a four year plan to retire debt to save an $800,000 annual interest bill, but no services would be cut. Municipal Association of Victoria chief executive Rob Spence said Cr Clarke did not understand other councils’problems, especially those in country areas with small populations and low rates revenue.
‘They are having to stop doing things because they don’t have enough money.” he said. Mr Spence said councils in growth areas were trying to cope with booming populations.
“Wyndham has 80 babies born a week.
The growth is massive and the council is struggling to keep up with the infrastructure requirements such as maternal and child health facilities.
So you can’t tarnish everyone with the same view”
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Mayoral car stating that if he was to take use of the Mayoral car he would have to place his car in storage for the term of his Mayoralty. This resulted in an income from the sale of the Mayoral car with additional savings of registration and insurance over 4 years to be estimated at approximately $50,000 savings to Council.
He also reduced his Mayoralty remuneration by 10%.
A major step was to remove the CEO and appoint a replacement which resulted in the removal of four Senior Directors. Cr. Clarke stated that this led to realignment of staff which meant fewer Managers and more staff on the ground. Nillumbik Council froze salaries and will have no rate increase in the next financial year.
Another massive saving was the slashing of 1/4 page advert advertisement in the local newspaper which promoted the Mayor and was very expensive.
Cr. Clarke stated that most Council’s look at what they did last year and then added more to it. He said that he had spoken to another Mayor who said they automatically went for the 2% rate capping and said why wouldn’t you do it!
The State government will introduce revaluation every year and this will cost Council’s $41 million annually with no finical benefit to local governments. It is a State Government means of increasing their slice of the pie.
If Nillumbik Council can make savings for the Ratepayers why cannot other Councils.
Finally Cr. Clarke stated that he discovered that Nillumbik Council had $41 million in surplus land holdings and the sale of these assets could be used to upgrade existing facilities.
Ratepayers Victoria congratulate Cr. Clarke (Mayor of Nillumbik) as he is listening to his Ratepayers. All other Mayors should follow his example.
Ratepayers Victoria Inc.>