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.
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