Ratepay­ers’ ap­a­thy costs them dear

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Western Opinion -

ISN’T it amaz­ing how quick the may­ors of lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas, and WALGA, were to start scare­mon­ger­ing about the po­ten­tial im­pact of a cap be­ing placed on coun­cil rates?

We’ve heard that vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture will not be built and that ser­vices will have to be cut if such a thing is im­ple­mented.

What is ev­i­dent is that these Chicken Littles are so out of touch with re­al­ity that they don’t even seem to com­pre­hend why such a pro­posal would be sug­gested – be­ing that too many coun­cils have al­lowed the level of ser­vices pro­vided, and the sup­port­ing bu­reau­cra­cies, to be­come so bloated that they for­get or ig­nore the fi­nan­cial im­pact on their ratepay­ers.

Coun­cils need to stop try­ing to be ev­ery­thing to ev­ery­one and re­vert to de­liv­er­ing es­sen­tial ser­vices.

Un­for­tu­nately, like taxpayers are to our State and fed­eral gov­ern­ments, ratepay­ers are the bot­tom­less well to which lo­cal coun­cils con­tin­u­ally dip their bucket to fund their ever-grow­ing em­pires.

In do­ing so they take ad­van­tage of the ap­a­thy of ratepay­ers who don’t at­tend gen­eral meet­ings at which rates are ap­proved or don’t chal­lenge their coun­cil enough.

It’s way past time that coun­cils learnt how to keep costs un­der con­trol. They could start by im­ple­ment­ing zero-based bud­get­ing so that man­agers are forced to scru­ti­nise all spend­ing and jus­tify ev­ery ex­pense item that should be kept in the an­nual bud­get.

In ad­di­tion, coun­cils should pro­vide greater trans­parency and anal­y­sis of pro­posed ex­pen­di­ture to ratepay­ers well be­fore ap­proval of rate lev­els is sought, which will mean that ratepay­ers be­come much bet­ter in­formed about how the coun­cil plans to use their money.

If those mea­sures don’t bring suf­fi­cient im­prove­ment, then per­haps a cap, or a re­quire­ment that a favourable vote from say 60 per cent of all ratepay­ers is re­quired for any av­er­age rate in­crease in ex­cess of CPI, should be in­tro­duced. Colin De­lane,


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