Below is an open letter that has been sent to all Glen Eira Councillors.
The Draft 2020-21 Budget and Draft 2020-21 to 2029-2030 Strategic Resources Plan were submitted and approved by Council on Tuesday 5/5/2020 presents grave concerns in this present climate of uncertainty with the future of our economy.
Any submissions regarding this budget need to be presented to Council in the next few weeks: Feedback closes on Friday 5 June 2020
May 6th 2020
We are living in difficult times as the Covid-19 virus impacts on all of us. We are presently existing in a shut-down situation. The prediction of a recession (and some analysts suggesting a depression) awaits us in the months ahead (and possibly years). We all know people who have lost their jobs, we know people finding it difficult to meet their financial commitments, we know people who are relying on help to provide for their families. We are all worried about how we will live post pandemic.
State and Federal governments have demonstrated their concern for their constituents with unprecedented measures; job keeper, jobseeker, child care fees and many more. Many CEOs and senior managers have voluntarily taken quite substantial pay cuts.
However, Glen Eira City Council have tabled their draft budget (5/5/2020), and this appears to ignore, or lack understanding of, the current and future economic situation that awaits the residents of Glen Eira.
Given the economic outlook predicted,
- why would a Council commit to a loan of $60 million over the next few years?
- why would a Council continue to decrease the Pensioner rebate on Council rates?
- why would a Council raise the cost of Waste collection by 15-18%?
This budget is presented in two parts:
1. A written document with background and general outline (33pp). This includes many sections familiar to residents, which espouse the aspirations of the Council: eg. Glen Eira is a well governed Council that is committed to transparency and engages residents in decision-making. (p.176)
2. Financial Statements and Statements of Human Resources: 77 pages of figures which are difficult to decipher and appear to lack transparency. Residents have many questions for clarity on these figures:
a. Why does the value of land, which is integral to calculating rates revenue, increase by 8.8% in the 2020-2021 budget?
b. Why should supplementary rates and Waste/Recycling increase by 25% and 15% respectively?
c. Why are employee costs increasing 3.55% and contractor payments increasing 3.7% in these austere times?
d. Why are $3 million in employee costs capitalized, which is an increase of $0.5 million from the 2019-2020 budget? What programs justify this change?
e. The rate revenue assumptions are based on an additional approximately 1000 homes. How has this been calculated?
f. Why is there a loss on disposal of assets each year?
g. Why does the budget not include provision for purchasing land required so desperately for open space within Glen Eira.
h. In the Cash Flow Statement, the PPE is down $2.9 million in 2019-2020 forecast v budget and down a further $5 million in the 2020-2021 budget. Why is this?
i. The drop in capex or depreciation or loss on sale of assets does not seem to account for the large fall in the asset value. Why would this be?
j. There is no over-arching management commentary that explains the flow of the numbers. Why not?
We are not investors, but we are stakeholders. There should be a management discussion of the numbers so that we, the constituents, can make easy sense of them.
The limitations imposed by the Covid-19 virus have resulted in virtual meetings within federal and state governments, educational facilities and most businesses. We, as residents of Glen Eira, look forward to virtual communication with our Council. And so, our questions are:
1. Will Glen Eira Council commit to establishing a formal deliberative community panel to provide feedback on residents’ priorities PRIOR to the drafting of annual budgets and SRPs? This panel would enable direct and open discussion between residents, Councillors and Council officers, unfiltered by outside contract agencies.
2. Will Glen Eira Council establish online forums for residents, thus facilitating open discussion which would be freely available to all, on major project expenditure prior to any council resolution to proceed with the project?
3. Will Glen Eira Council commit to publishing all feasibility studies, business plans, etc. prior to its formal decision making on all projects exceeding $2M and invite community feedback on these documents?
We look forward to your response to each of our concerns
President, Save Glen Eira
Save Glen Eira Inc. A0107697H Website: savegleneira.com.au Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As mentioned above, submissions regarding the 2020-21 Budget need to be presented to Council in the next few weeks: Feedback closes on Friday 5 June 2020
Please feel free to include comments from the above open letter when lodging a submission to Council.
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Council elections will be held in October, 2020.
Glen Eira needs Councillors who hold transparency and accountability as part of their responsibility to residents. Councillors who are prepared to openly question and challenge the Administration and its officers and ensure that residents’ views are factored into Council’s decisions. (Under the Local Government Act Councillors are responsible for setting the “rules” and monitoring the compliance of all Council officers with those “rules”).
If you are considering standing, please feel free to contact us to further discuss any of the above issues or any area of special interest to you.