There are several items of interest for the Special Council Meeting on Tuesday night –

  • As expected no real changes to the ‘draft’ budget and strategic resource documents. In other words, the recommendations and requests from residents have once more fallen on deaf ears.
  • Worse still is that no thorough explanation is provided for fee hikes. One recent public question queried why aged care residential bonds should jump an incredible $100,000 in one hit. The answer? – in line with the average for private operations. Questions as to fee increases for child care, also received the silent treatment.
  • Community plan (circa 2011) remains untouched except for an ‘addendum’ that is tacked on about 2011 census figures. No attempt to integrate these latest figures with what was written nearly 3 years ago!

Open Space Policy

  • Half a page is all that Glen Eira can produce as far as ‘policy’ goes on this issue.
  • Yes, open space levies will now be used for the acquisition of further open space, and/or its ‘development’, but this includes the Booran Road Reservoir which won’t have a penny spent on it until at least 2015/16. In fact the entire budgeted amount for the next financial year in this category is the development of Elsternwick Park at a measly $250,000.
  • Not a word about increasing the open space levy to at least 5% across all areas of the municipality when land is subdivided. Nor has this council made any attempt to introduce an amendment to give such a policy legal effect. Other councils such as Bayside, Stonnington, Port Phillip and many, many others already have such amendments passed or well on the way. The likely excuse for this inaction is that council is awaiting the Open Space Strategy Review! Reviews and Amendments are not mutually exclusive – the process should have been initiated years ago if the intent was to really ensure that developers paid their fair share.

Defined Benefits Scheme

Here’s the Swabey recommendation –

“That Council endorses the repayment of the defined benefit call ($7.120mil) by June

2015 in accordance with the following schedule:

– 2012-13 – $2.4mil by 30 June 2013;

– 2013-14 – $2.4mil (+ interest) by 30 June 2014; and

– 2014-15 – $2.32mil (+ interest) by 30 June 2015”.

We draw readers’ attention to the fact that here is an official council document that spectacularly fails to declare both the AMOUNT AND RATE OF INTEREST that residents will be forced to pay. We can only speculate as to where and how these sums will be buried in any further official documents.

As for up front disclosure of monies the ‘declaration of rates and charges’ is another case in point. On the issue of pensioner rebate all that we’re told is: Council Pensioner Rebate -$0.557M AND It be recorded that Council grants to each ratepayer who is an “eligible recipient”within the meaning of the State Concessions Act 2004 a combined rebate up to a maximum of $270 (being an amount contributed by State Government & Council) in respect of that land. Hence there is no admission of exactly how much Council is contributing and whether or not this subsidy has risen, declined, or remained static.

Port Phillip is far more forthcoming with its equivalent agenda item –

The City of Port Phillip offers a council rebate of up to $144.00 in addition to the State Government Rebate of $202.90 to all eligible pension card holders. (Agenda items – 25th June 2013)

On the actual rate increase itself, Glen Eira writes only in terms of the cents in the dollar. Anything to help disguise the fact that it’s another 6.5% increase. Port Phillip states clearly – The proposed rate in the dollar will result in an increase of 4.5% in Council’s rate in the dollar.

Whilst these last examples might be seen as trivial, we believe that they represent the entire approach of a council determined to continually downplay all the potential ‘negatives’ and to make it as difficult as possible for residents to decipher what is really happening.