Archive:  Council Budget/Council Plan/Strategic Resource Plan

Last Updated  16/6/13

 

  See also Council Plan archive (2006 - 2007)

 

 

Council Plan, Budget, Strategic Resource Plan, Councillor Allowances and Land Sales Are On Exhibition:  If You Are Happy With $10 - $14 Million Debt, 7% Rate Increases, Executive Decision-Making And A New Shire "Vision" You Weren't Consulted About, Do Nothing. 

(6/5/13 - RA - C)  Somewhere in the dark corners of Council, someone's making decisions that spiral rates and debt, make the Shire a population and economic growth centre, and implement the draft Loddon Mallee South Regional Growth Plan - without telling us. Be Alarmed.  Submissions close Midday on May 31  More...

 

The Council Plan

Previous Council Plans (2006 - 2010, and 2009 - 2013) had 'Vision 2025' as their core. Vision 2025, adopted by Council in 2003 after extensive community consultation, articulates the Shire's vision, and values, and where the Shire and community want to be in 2025.  It has 4 key themes: "Sustainable Living" (including sustainable economic development), "Community Wellbeing", "Sustainable Environment and Infrastructure" and "Responsible Governance". 

 

The new draft Council Plan has a new 'vision':  "Looking Forward to 2040".  No, the community wasn't consulted - hasn't even been told it has happened. This new 2040 'vision' has 3 key themes:  "An Inspiring Place" (i.e. "best practice planning and development"), "An Empowered Community" (i.e. "a diverse, strong and prosperous economy"), and "A High Performing Organisation" (i.e. "proactively engage with and demonstrate accountability to the community").  Using annual Community Satisfaction Survey results as a guide, most residents already think Council doesn't know the meaning of "best practice", "engage[ment]" or "accountability".  The new Council Plan and its processes confirm that.

 

 Council has replaced Vision 2025's values of "Awareness", "Rich Fabric", '"Our Home" and "Deep Connection" with "Sense of Place", "Sense of Community", "Balance", "Integrity".  That is, integrity as in "To protect and maintain theintegrity of townships in a context of population growth", and balance as in "To reach a balance between agriculture and rural/residential lifestyle land use in our Shire".  (Amendment C84 is set to make that happen).  Apparently visitors will want to 'share' the 'engaging experience' of Macedon Ranges' "creative and enduring industries".  Success in protecting our environment and landscape will be measured against... the effectiveness of the roadside weed program, and environmental management. 

 

Council Plans normally set out a 4 year plan.  This one only has a one year Action Plan, which "only shows a small part of that we will be doing in the coming year." (page 16).  The community is left to guess what else Council is doing in 2013/14, and in 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17.  The Plan is full of motherhood statements, and almost farcical objectives and 'success' measures.  It doesn't give much away, but it's pretty clear there will be a lot of "leading" (aka executive "top-down" decision-making), population and economic growth (particularly industry) and accelerated rural residential development (selling Macedon Ranges as a place to live).  The good news is that the Plan does confirm what we all now know:  the still-draft Loddon Mallee South Regional Growth Plan is driving the Council Plan, Budget and Strategic Resource Plan.  Just like it drives Amendment C84. 

 

The Budget and Strategic Resource Plan

The Strategic Resource Plan is supposed to be a plan of the (financial and non-financial) resources required to achieve the Council Plan's strategic objectives, for at least the next 4 years.  This one seems to be for 10 years, doesn't contain anywhere near the level of detail the 2006/2010 SRP did, and is frightening. 

 

The Budget raises 2013/14 rates by a median of 6.93% (from a 4.8% rise last year and less than 5% rise in previous years).  It doesn't stop there.  The Strategic Resource Plan says (page 13) that  "The long term financial plan is based on rate revenue increasing by 7% per annum." 

 

The Budget says Shire debt at 30 June 2013 is around $3 million.  However next year Council is borrowing $6.2 million, taking debt to almost $10 million in 2013/14, to pay staff superannuation ($3.6m), the Early Years Hub in Gisborne ($0.7m), Hanging Rock East Paddock ($0.55m) and Indoor Stadium at Gisborne Secondary College ($1m).  And that's just for this yearThe Strategic Resource Plan (page 10) shows debt will increase to almost $14 million by 2015/16, and says (page 11) "Council will cap its debt level at $14 million over the life of the 10 year plan."

 

Fees and Charges in the Budget are odd.  You will pay an arm and two legs in fees for some council services ($75 - $100 for a copy of a planning permit) but there isn't any fee for amending a planning permit, or for a permit to develop land.  Interesting priorities.

 

Council is also flogging off 'surplus Council land' to top up the Budget.  It's going to try to flog off Namnan Way again.  Wasn't a wise move last time.  Also being flogged off are 4 Gardiner Street, Gisborne and 12 and 14 Wyralla Crescent Gisborne.  You can object or have your say by making a submission (as below).

 

One more thing, at the same time Council is going into huge debt and upping rates, it is also setting allowances for councillors and the Mayor.  No surprise that the maximum amount available is being proposed:  Councillors $22,405 and Mayor $69,325 per annum.  Other 'perks' also apply.  You can see the 1 May 2013 officers' report here.  You can object or have your say by making a submission (as below).  

 

Note:  The Local Government Act provides that all of the above issues must be dealt with in accordance with Section 223 of the Act - that means you can request to be heard by Council.  Make sure you put a request in your submission if you want to speak to your objection in person.

 

Written submissions on the Budget, Council Plan, Strategic Resource Plan, Sale of Council Land and Councillor Allowances will be accepted until 12 noon on Friday 31 May 2013 and should be addressed to the Chief Executive Officer, Macedon Ranges Shire Council, PO Box 151, Kyneton VIC 3444 or emailed to mrsc@mrsc.vic.gov.au   MAKE SURE YOU COPY YOUR SUBMISSION TO ALL COUNCILLORS.  Written submissions will be considered at 4pm on Wednesday 5 June 2013 in the Kyneton Town Hall, 129 Mollison Street, Kyneton. Council will then meet to consider adopting the Budget and other documents on Wednesday 12 June 2013 at 7pm at the Gisborne Administration Centre, 40 Robertson Street, Gisborne.

 

Go to Council's website at:   http://www.mrsc.vic.gov.au/Council_the_Region/About_Council/Council_Plan_Budget

 

MRRA Says:

 

Wake Up!  You (we) are being robbed: of our values, of our money, of our place, and of our democracy.  We surely have 5 councillors who don't think that's OK.  Find them.

 

This Council is implementing the draft Loddon Mallee South Regional Growth Plan - you know, the one that's on exhibition until 17 May.  It's already in Amendment C84 (Council told you C84 changes nothing - it changes everything).  It's in the Council Plan.  It's in the Budget.  Well, it's in pretty much everything Council has done since 2010.  Think Equine Strategy, think Daly Reserve, think rezoning Hanging Rock, think only one Council meeting per month, think officer delegations.  And it's all being done behind closed doors, and without telling the community.

 

Someone wants this sensitive Shire to become a population and economic growth centre, whatever it takes.  Someone wants ratepayers to shoulder massive debt and outrageous rates to pay for it.  Someone stripped our adopted values out of our Council Plan and put in their own. 

 

The community isn't making the decisions - it's not being asked, or even told, about decisions that change our future.  These aren't community documents, and this isn't democracy or democratic governance.  It's executive governance and decision-making at its best.

 

Happy with that? 

 

YOU are urged (we will even beg you) to make a submission rejecting the debt, rate increase, values and direction presented in the Council Plan, Budget and Strategic Resource Plan.  You have until MIDDAY on 31st May to do it.   Please act, before this nightmare becomes reality.