Cost cutting by Nillumbik Mayor

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 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.

Jack Davis
Vice President
Ratepayers Victoria Inc.>

Community Enagement & 2017-18 Rates Variation Applications

Councils who wish to increase next financial year’s rates will need to ensure they inform their community of their business case for raising rates above the cap.

The Essential Service Commission (ESC) has issued guidelines to help councils engage effectively with their communities, to ensure they provide top quality information, to ensure their communities become well informed of their councils’ decisions to increase rates above the cap.

The guidelines are available online for the public to view and understand the evaluation criteria ESC would use to assess whether councils have genuinely engaged with their communities. Ratepayers can assist to evaluate if their councils have followed these guidlines properly. If their councils have not, ratepayer advocates can provide the factual evidence to justify the non compliance and share with Ratepayers Vic to quality assure and facilitate forwarding community concerns to the ESC. They should also discuss the concerns with their councils, to agree improvements, while also taking leadership in fostering good community rapport with councils, helping them improve their organizational learning.

ESC is also presenting the guidelines to ratepayer groups who are interested to understand their councils’ obligation in community engagement, when they apply for rates variation this year. We are collaborating with ESC to discuss with our ratepayer networks these community engagement guidelines for councils’ 2017-2018 budget planning on 4th March 2017, at the Knox Council Offices, 511 Burwood Hwy, Wantirna South VIC 315. We are also having an earlier session with Local Government Inspectorate that day. Connect with our to keep up to date.

Regional/rural ratepayers groups can come together and contact Ratepayers Victoria (email to organise a similar workshop with ESC in regional Victoria.

Alas relief to today’s madness in Council land!!!

John Masanauskas reported in a 17 November 2015 Herald Sun’s article:

Image result for scrutiny“Services and finances scrutinised on Victoria’s Know Your Council website

A new website will detail rubbish collections among a list of council performance indicators.

RESIDENTS will be able to check how many rubbish bins are missed by their local council during collections by going to a new website detailing municipal performance.

Similar to the My School website, the Know Your Council site will feature dozens of service and financial indicators to enable comparisons across suburban and regional areas.

As well as rubbish collection, it will include data on rates, council expenses, road construction, library costs, food safety assessments, animal management prosecutions, satisfaction with council decisions and safety incidents at public schools.

The Andrews Government will launch the website on ­November 27, following moves by the former Coalition ­government to introduce the initiative.

It will display performance levels for 2014-15, and next year more indicators will be added, such as time taken to act on food complaints and cost of domestic care service.

Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins said: “The Andrews Labor Government wants local councils to be as open and transparent as possible when it comes to the way they are spending ratepayers’ money. The Know Your Council website will lift the lid on local government budgets and operations, giving ratepayers more insight.”

Other performance indicators will include governance issues, such as the number of decisions made at closed council meetings and attendance at meetings.

Ratepayers Victoria president Jack Davis said his group supported the Know Your Council site.

“The Local Government Act is broken and in order to fix it we need to know the weaknesses of councils,” he said.Image result for broken system'

Municipal Association of Victoria president Bill McArthur said the MAV supported transparency and accountability in measuring councils’ ­performance.

“The State Government made an election commitment to work with councils to reduce the number of performance measures to make the data more meaningful, and we look forward to that occurring,” he said.”

Rate Capping Bill Introduced Today

The Minister for Local Government, MP Natalie Hutchins, is thanking RVI and its networks of ratepayer-advocates for helping to collate grass-root feedback from ratepayers and residents, which provided valuable insights to help justify and developing the draft rate capping policy, which is now introduced into Parliament.

She wrote………….

“In the nearly twelve months since being elected, the Andrews Government has been getting on with delivering the things that matter to Victorians.

In the local government space that means giving ratepayers greater value, more of a say, and a better understanding of the work their councils are doing.

And with your help, that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Key to this has been our ‘Fair Go Rates’ system, which has now been introduced to the Parliament.

In Victoria, council rates have averaged close to six per cent rise every year for the past ten years.

As Ratepayers Victoria knows – it’s unsustainable, and it’s unfair.

That’s why we developed the Fair Go Rates system.

It’s not about stopping councils providing quality services and facilities.

And it’s not about cutting existing budgets.

It’s about giving ratepayers greater surety about what their rates bill will look like into the future. It’s about ensuring greater value for money.

And it’s about encouraging councils to listen and engage when it comes to the needs of their community.

While the Fair Go Rates system imposes a cap on rate rises, it doesn’t mean new projects can’t be funded.

In fact, it will encourage better-planned projects , with more consideration of what the community needs.

If a council has a project that requires it to go above the rate cap, it will have to demonstrate to the Essential Services Commission that an increase is warranted.

Councils will have to consult with the community and make a case for the increase before it’s approved.

I’d like to thank Ratepayers Victoria for their feedback as we developed a framework for the Fair Go Rates system. Hearing from residents and ratepayers on the ground has been invaluable.

Together we can ensure the community gets more of a say – and that councils are listening.”

Click here to read the final ESC report that was submitted to Parliament today. Read more of the introduced bills through this official media release.  Today’s Herald Sun also wrote about the introduced bills (see article dated 20 Oct 2015), reporting that:

“VICTORIAN councils will be forced to cap rate rises at the state’s key cost of living benchmark, under new laws that should save families hundreds of dollars.

And councils that “deliberately and repeatedly” defy the new limit will face the sack.

But the Herald Sun understands draft legislation, to be introduced to State Parliament on Wednesday, allows the local government minister to reduce or increase the cap in exceptional circumstances.

Councils also would be able to argue to the Essential Services Commission for exemptions if they could prove community support, and justify the need, for more spending.

The laws would see the Andrews Government fulfil a key election promise to cap rate rises at the Melbourne Consumer Price Index — despite ESC advice that it should be watered down.

The Melbourne CPI increased by just 1.1 per cent in the past year. Next year, when the new laws would apply, it has been forecast to increase by 2.75 per cent.

This is less than half the average rate rise over the past decade, and would mean the average rates increase next year would be $50 or less.

A final decision on the percentage cap will be made each December, when the State Government’s midyear economic update is released with inflation forecasts.

A spokeswoman for Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins declined to comment because the Bill was not yet before Parliament.

But Ms Hutchins told the Sunday Herald Sun this week that “Victorians have had enough of never-ending rate increases”.

“Victorians expect greater value, more of a say, and a better understanding of the work their councils are doing — that’s exactly what our Fair Go Rates cap will do,” she said last week.

Opposition Local Government spokesman David Davis last night said Premier Daniel Andrews should have capped rates this year, and it was “imperative that he be forced to keep his promise from here on in because family budgets depend on it”.

Rates have risen an average of 6 per cent a year over the past decade.

The Municipal Association of Victoria released data on Tuesday showing state property taxes grew by 7.1 per cent in the past decade, after the Government released rates data.

Councillor Bill McArthur, MAV president, said “this year Victorian councils worked hard to keep average rate increases to a 10-year low of 3.8 per cent while still providing more than 100 vital community services and maintaining $73 billion of infrastructure” “

The comments of this article says alot about community sentiments for councils and their peak bodies. Lovely people.

 RVI also issued a press release today:


CEO Excessive Salaries

John Masauskas, from Herald Sub reported on 22 May 2015 that LGV is putting Councils’ CEOs on notice about their excessive salaries:

“THE State Government has put local councils on notice over excessive salaries for their chief executives, most of whom earn more than the British prime minister. 

As of March 31 last year, the median salary for Victorian council bosses was $295,000.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron earns $283,000. Prime Minister Tony Abbott earns about $507,000.

Top-of-the-range wages for council chiefs were $460,000 at Melbourne City Council, up to $420,000 at Darebin, up to $380,000 at Boroondara, and up to $370,000 at Moreland and Whitehorse.

Council CEO salaries rose by up to 4.9 per cent over the year to March 2014. Chiefs of large metropolitan councils got an average 3.8 per cent pay rise, and chiefs of small rural ones a 4.6 per cent pay hike.

Inflation over that period was 2.9 per cent.

The State Government is preparing to cap council rate increases at the level of the CPI from July next year, putting pressure on councils to rein in costs, including wages. Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins, who has previously called some CEOs’ pay “over the top”, said councils were responsible for appointing CEOs and fixing pay.

“They should always take into account community expectations and needs,” Ms Hutchins said.

“Excessive salaries are simply not justified,” she said.

But Municipal Association of Victoria president Bill McArthur said cutting CEO pay would have little impact on council costs, and the salaries were justified. “They are running a multi-million dollar business that is delivering in excess of 100 services and also overseeing a major infrastructure budget. Unless you’ve got the right people running the business then you won’t get the results you need,” he said.

Mr McArthur said the salaries should be compared with those earned by heads of government departments. He said they were much lower than those enjoyed by CEOs of private companies.

The MAV is also concerned about the effect of the rates cap on councils’ service delivery.”

It is time to clean up Local Government.

Earlier Jack Davies was asked to comment in the Maribyrnong Leader (20 May 2015) about Maribyrnong’s council wages showing 28 officers on a pay scale of between $130,000 and $309,999, of which nine are paid up to $149,999 and six up to $159,999.

Jack said “it was “ridiculous” that senior officers were being paid six-figure salaries. One-third of ratepayers’ funds go into administration costs. Salaries should be capped so they can stop the increases. They also get a massive superannuation payout, free cars and traveling expenses.” He added that “the performance of senior staff should be evaluated by an independent body instead of by their peers”.

Ratepayers welcome Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins’s warning to councils to “rein in spending on executive salaries rather than blame the cap for financial problems.” She further said “blaming any cuts to essential services on capping is unfair and dishonest. Councils need to put a stop to over-the-top executive pay rises and needless waste.” (Maribyrnong Leader, 20 May 2015).

The road to Local Government efficiency send shivers to Councils

On 25 Jun 2014, Jeff Kennett from the Herald Sun reported:

“WHILE we often complain about local councils, our third tier of government provides some very important services upon which we all depend.

Think of rubbish collection, libraries, maternal and child care services, some aged care services, maintenance of local roads, the condition of our local parks, gardens, playgrounds, bridges — and so the list goes on.

Many councils today provide services and facilities that were not envisaged years ago, such as golf courses, art centres, youth centres, childcare and some kindergartens.

In short, councils are important contributors to our quality of life.

Well, that might be about to change.

From next week, July 1, the Federal Government will freeze the indexation of its grants to councils for three years.

Commonwealth grants vary in amounts from council to council. In real terms they are the way the Commonwealth attempts to equalise revenues to councils: smaller bodies get proportionately more as a percentage of their revenue base than bigger councils in more populated areas.

For 40 councils in Victoria, more than half the total number, Commonwealth grants represent more than 10 per cent of their total revenue, so the freezing of indexation will have a profound impact. They are, in the main, smaller rural and regional councils.

In money terms the freezing of indexation by the Federal Government will cost Victorian councils $123.7m over the three years. Many have also been increasing their employment costs at rates much greater than CPI, many by as much as 5.25 per cent a year.

That is unsustainable and will require some urgent adjustment.

But for Victorian councils there is an even bigger threat, one that could affect the viability of many of them and the services they provide.

The Labor Opposition in Victoria has said that if it wins the election in November, it will cap the amount that a council can increase its rates to the consumer price index, which will be about 2.5 per cent. Consider the impact on council services near you if Labor is elected.

Over the past five years rate increases across the state have averaged 6.3 per cent a year. In money terms over the three years that would amount to a reduction in revenue of $1.1bn. Add that to the revenue loss as a result of the indexation of Commonwealth grants and council revenue will fall by $1.22b over three years.

That equates to an average revenue reduction of $15.5m.

Again the bigger, financially well-administered councils, such as my own Boroondara, will with certain challenges be able to manage such reductions. But for smaller rural councils it will be almost impossible without a change to the way they operate and the services they provide. I fear for some of the councils that are already stretched; the impact of the federal freeze on indexation and the capping of rates if there is a change of government in Victoria might be a step too far for many of them.

As they struggle, we can expect to see some cancellation of services; a reduction in others; a review of employment numbers; the sale of unused or under-utilised assets; a reduction in the maintenance of assets; the deferral of necessary infrastructure.

Many councils will face a tsunami of challenges not seen for years and ratepayers could face considerable changes to the services they have come to expect. But we shouldn’t blame our councils, because these changes are being imposed on them.

I genuinely fear that many of our smaller councils may not survive and there will be another round of amalgamations, not due to proper planning but to desperation.

Of course if the Coalition wins the next state election, capping will not occur. If Labor wins, it will — and good luck to the person who is handed the local government portfolio.

Good governance dictates that councils should be preparing for the worst possible scenario, because the clock starts ticking next week.

Leadership — how I love it. We are about to see who has the will and capacity to lead.

Have a good day.”

The original article is in the Herald Sun, 25 Jun 2014, written by Jeff Kennett, a former premier of Victoria.

Queensland councils demand legislative cover from rates litigants

Watch the Channel nine video (3 June 2014):

The full news article is on:

Government news (3 June 2014):

Councils in Queensland are worried that their ability to use differential rating is directly under threat after a Supreme Court judgement found Mackay Regional Council’s decision to impose higher charges on investment properties was legally “invalid”.

Local governments across the state now fear the decision will undermine their revenue base unless they get legislative protection to charge different levels of rates for properties based on the nature of their ownership.

Although other states use differential rating, the revenue measure is particularly unpopular in the sunshine states where property investors have started litigating against councils in a bid to avoid higher charges.

Queensland’s Supreme Court handed down its judgement on 30th April, 2014 in the case of Paton & Ors v Mackay Regional Council case, a precedent that sent shockwaves through councils trying to forward plan their budgets.

The questionable legal validity of the revenue mechanism has the potential to open big funding holes for councils in the event they cannot collect on the charges.

Now Queensland’s peak local government body has called on the state government to introduce legislative and regulatory reforms to “put councils on a sound footing as they prepare their budgets for the coming year”.

Local governments want legislative protection from legal challenges on differential rating because of the risk that a precedent that could force councils across the state to repay a whopping $2.4 billion to ratepayers who believe they have been unlawfully gouged.

The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) is vehemently defending the use of differential rating, saying many councils use the revenue powers to categorise residential land based on whether it’s used as a principal place of residence or for investment purposes.

LGAQ President Margaret de Wit said while the Supreme Court’s judgement is being appealed, other councils need to make sure their communities can enjoy certainty in regard to future revenue options.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said he supported the LGAQ’s call for Queensland Minister for Local Government David Crisafulli to introduce legislation to protect ratepayers from the possibility of being liable for retrospective rate refunds to investors.

“I urge the Minister to amend legislation to ensure that Brisbane owner occupier ratepayers are not at risk of being slugged for retrospective payments,” Mr Quirk said.

He said “as a matter of policy”, Brisbane City Council believes that the ability to categorise residential properties for rating purposes according to whether they are owner occupied or not is a “fair, equitable and reasonable” rating arrangement.”

Most Victorians want their councils to focus on the three Rs – roads, rubbish and lower rates.

The final 2013 message for Councils is

  • Better roads,
  • Continue to collect rubbish and
  • Be brave to lower rates.

The evidence is in this Sept 2103 Herald Sun Article:

Darebin Council spent $34,000 to remove potentially dangerous street art on a Northcote median street. Source: News Limited

COUNCILS have been told to get back to basics after a major survey revealed that many residents are unhappy with the management of core services.

The State Government study of nearly 30,000 people found that most Victorians want their councils to focus on the three Rs – roads, rubbish and lower rates.

It comes after strong criticism of councils for running political campaigns, such as using ratepayers’ funds for the failed referendum bid to include local government in the federal Constitution.

More than 90 per cent of survey respondents said their municipalities could improve, with low scores given for management of roads, population growth, planning policy, parking facilities and footpaths.

Only about half of all Victorians believed that overall municipal performance was good or very good, while 35 per cent said it was average and 14 per cent rated it as poor or very poor, according to the Statewide Local Government Services Report June 2013.

“As in 2012, Victorian councils tended to score lower than their overall performance rating on community consultation and engagement, advocacy and particularly, overall council direction,” said the report……..

………….The report found that most ratepayers expected councils to live within their means – those preferring a rate rise in exchange for better services fell from 40 per cent in 2012 to 36 per cent this year.

On the positive side, the proportion of residents who believed their council was heading in the right direction rose slightly to 69 per cent this year, while those who thought it was going the wrong way fell from 23 per cent to 20 per cent.

On a scale of zero to 100, inner Melbourne councils rated best for overall performance with a score of 66, outer metro councils scored 62, regional centre councils got 60, small rural shires scored 59 and larger ones got 57.

Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell said the survey results were important and the Government was working to introduce a mandatory reporting system in which similar councils could be compared on a range of factors.

“In an effort to try and keep rates down and contains costs, my department is working with councils so they can have better purchasing power through the sharing of services,” she said.

The survey found that residents were most happy with public art centres and libraries, with a score of 73, followed by appearance of public areas and waste management (71), emergency and disaster management and recreational facilities (70), then elderly support, community and cultural services (69).

But there was significant dissatisfaction with management of unsealed roads (44), population growth (54), planning and building permits (55), slashing and weed control (56), parking facilities (57) and local streets and footpaths (58).

Municipal Association of Victoria president Bill McArthur said there were no real surprises in the survey but there was always room for improvement.

For the full report – click here



Ratepayers may not be aware of the Councillors misusing their positions

Eugene Benson from Moonee Valley Weekly reports (26 Mar 2013):

Councillor Shirley Cornish to face courtHappier times: Former mayor Shirley Cornish will face court in April. Picture: Michael Copp


FORMER Moonee Valley mayor and current Rosehill ward councillor Shirley Cornish will appear in the Broadmeadows Magistrates Court on April 4 to face a charge related to her actions while mayor in 2010.

Cr Cornish is the second Moonee Valley councillor to be charged by the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate after its investigation into allegedly improper payments made to the city’s former chief executive Rasiah Dev. Cr Cornish has been charged with one breach of section 76D of the Local Government Act 1989 for the alleged misuse of her position to obtain an advantage for Mr Dev.

It is alleged that as a consequence of the misuse of her position, Mr Dev gained an advantage of more than $13,600.

The charge specifically relates to an allegation that Cr Cornish signed a document with a council letterhead that endorsed a variation to Mr Dev’s contract. That variation is believed to be a 5 per cent wage increase resulting in a $13,600 gain for the former chief executive. Any variation to a chief executive’s payment is required to be brought before the entire council.

In December, fellow Moonee Valley councillor Paul Giuliano was found guilty by the Broadmeadows Magistrates Court on a similar charge relating to his time as mayor in 2009.

He was handed a $1000 fine, but was allowed to continue all normal duties as a Buckley ward councillor.

The Weekly understands Cr Cornish’s hearing may last for three days and include as many as 30 witnesses. Cr Cornish would not be drawn to comment on the charge but is expected to plea not guilty.

By choosing that plea she would leave herself open to paying legal fees if proven guilty.

Mr Dev left the council in April 2010 and is now Darebin Council’s chief executive. Darebin Council has been subject to its own external investigation since appointing Mr Dev.

Above the Law

Tessa Hoffman from the Monee Valley Leader ( 19 Dec 2012) reported:

Councillor guilty over illegal pay rise


A MOONEE Valley councillor has pleaded guilty to misusing his position to get a former council chief executive a pay rise.

Paul Giuliano today pleaded guilty to misusing his position while he was mayor to get a 5 per cent increase on former chief executive Rasiah Dev’s salary from $315,000 to $330,750 from January 2009, resulting in a total of $34,678 extra pay starting in January 2009.

Variations to chief executives’ contracts must be subject to a formal council resolution.

Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court heard an independent consultant had recommended that Mr Dev receive a 5.3 per cent pay rise following a favourable performance review by councillors.

Prosecutor Peter Matthews told the court Mr Giuliano discussed the matter with councillors at “at least one meeting” and over the phone, and acting on an assumption councillors had agreed to the pay rise, he asked the human resources manager to authorise the increase.

Defence counsel Jonathan Maher told Magistrate Robert Kumar that in the past 10 years, no chief executive’s pay rise had gone before the council and there was no policy or procedure in place for the process.

The court heard a councillor found guilty of a deliberate misuse of position could receive a $10,000 fine and be disqualified from sitting for seven years.

Mr Matthews said Mr Giuliano’s action was “not a deliberate misuse of his position … more he ought to have known”.

Magistrate Kumar said he was amazed the incident occurred.

“Ratepayers will have concerns about this council,” Magistrate Kumar said.

Magistrate Kumar accepted that council officers did not help Mr Giuliano and there was no system in place.

He ordered Mr Giuliano to pay the court fund $1000 and $5000 in court costs.

He was given a 12-month good behaviour bond.

No conviction was recorded.

Outside court Mr Giuliano told the Moonee Valley Leader he could continue as a councillor because no conviction was recorded.

Mr Dev is now the chief executive at Darebin Council.


Jack Davies commented:

“As President of Ratepayers Victoria the blatant abuse of the local Government act by Paul Giuliano at the MOONEE Valley council is an example of the protection by the labor party in spite of the local Government act. When the courts start ignoring such breaches of the act and complaints by Ratepayers we are on the verge of treachery. Jack Davis President RPV INC.”