Whenever I mention reviewing the budget or lowering rates, critics retort with
“What services do you want to cut?”
The short answer is: anything over-priced or unnecessary. Here’s some detail:
IT Systems – 3 systems alone cost more than $400,000
o Three separate IT systems. CIVICA traffic management system from England that Councils across Australia use (so possibly ordered by the state govt) Cost is $384,000 year, contract expires in 2023. Ordered 2013, finally finished being installed 2015.
o TRIM – document management $69,000 year.
o GIS geographic management (i.e planning for roads, buildings etc) $42,000 just expired.
· None of these are integrated systems. None cloud-based. All were tendered but this doesn’t mean open market tender. Governments have their own tender processes.
· These systems and costs need thorough review because the market cost of business software has plummeted in the past decade and the Civica cost seems very high.
Consultants and lawyers – Impossible to cost every use because there’s no line item in the budget or the annual report or the Financial Reports. But here’s a list to get started – all these costs have been revealed by asking questions at Council meetings or via email.
o Metropolis $25,000 a year for the ‘official’ community survey which provides data for the "Know Your Council website." The same six items appear every year as main community concerns, so it appears Council is only using the survey to provide data for government and not to address resident issues.
o Governance Policy : Council hired Maddocks Lawyers to review its governance policy this year, and the policy ignored recommendations made by the Ombudsman, four years ago, to improve Council meetings.
o The NEXT project. (replacing the Paisley St library with a mega library, art gallery, theatre ) Council has spent $450,000 on consultants to consult with residents and produce a glossy presentation document to use to lobby state and federal MPs for funding.
§ Council has an entire department for engagement
§ Council has an engagement portal "Your City Your Voice"
§ State and federal MPs are supposed to listen to Councils as part of their constituent base. Why do we have to spend $450,000 to ‘lobby’ our own MPs?
Various Policies that have used consultants
o Tourism policy
o Urban forest policy
o Carbon neutral audit
o Climate change policy
o Council has about 79 separate policies. Not all have been written by consultants, but many are.
Committees and memberships
There are several committees that council pays to belong to, which are essentially a collection of other Councils all working together for their combined community areas.
This type of teamwork is now mandated under the new Local Government Act 2020.
· Municipal Association of Victoria $55,000
o MAV recommends services to Councils - one was SKM the recycling waste company that went bust.
o MAV lobbied for Councillors to be paid by VIRTIP. (VIRTIP awarded Ministers an 11.8% payrise in September 2019 last year)
· LeadWest $40,000 membership and $6,000 overheads: This committee lobbies MPs for state and federal funding for infrastructure projects in western suburbs.
· IMAP $42,000: this is a collection of inner city Councils that lobby state government
· Western Tourism Board - $30,000 membership: collection of Councils that promote tourism in the western suburbs.
· Annual report cost $30,000 to publish in 2019. There were 200 copies printed.
· Annual Homeless Street count. Council contributed $50,000 to count the homeless for a PR campaign to publicise the plight of the homeless across Melbourne.
Major Projects Office
· $709,000 in staff and $281,000 in materials
· Officially according to Council it "Provides high level advice and direction relating to Council’s major projects"
· No mention of it in any of the Officer Reports relating to any of the 19 major projects in the last two MCC budgets
If you think these costs could be removed or reduced, Vote 1 Verity Webb in Yarraville Ward.
authorised by Verity Webb P O Box 388 Yarraville 3013.