Archive:   Mowing Services

Last Updated  14/10/06


After A Couple Of Tries, Council Beefs Up Lawn Mowing Services To Aged and Infirm - For Now

(12/9/06 - C)  Cuts are really the State and Commonwealth governments' fault, and cost-shifting has to stop

Macedon Ranges Council has decided to slice up its limited funding pie differently to maintain lawn-mowing services for a little longer to some more people than first proposed.  Following an audit of and contact with those wanting services, it turns out that not as many people as first thought would need the service. Some are opting for making their own arrangements; others apparently had no right to be receiving services.  With these no longer sharing available funding, Council has come up with a better deal for those who really need help, which will see more annual mowing services than the minimal number originally proposed. 


Councillors John Letchford (South) moved and Noel Harvey (West) seconded a motion to adopt Option 2 (reimbursement of most mowing and administration costs).  This option sees a slightly larger slice of the existing funding pie (+$9,267 p.a.) assigned to lawn mowing services than originally proposed (note: this is not additional  funding i.e. a new cost).  Crs. Geoff Neil (East) and Tom Gyorffy (West) opposed the motion, instead supporting Option 3 which did what Option 2 does plus it further reduced costs to residents with a subsidy of 10% (for, all up, an additional $15,038 p.a. slice of the existing funding pie). 


Crs. Letchford and Harvey laboured the point about other levels of government 'dropping the funding ball' by starting services then allowing the funding gap to widen or fall completely to Council's budget.  While Cr. Harvey said  it wasn't about service reduction so much as stretching resources to meet the needs of the greatest number of people, Cr. Letchford felt the problems could also be addressed through planning, with the community taking reduced lawns through housing - he said that to meet the needs of servicing, aged residential units were a real positive.  


Crs. Gyorffy and Neil instead argued that the additional portion of existing funding needed to go with Option 3 was a small amount which would significantly improve support to aged and infirm residents.  Cr. Gyorffy also pointed out that Council had earlier agreed to spend a large amount of money on reserves and inanimate objects but on this relatively small amount were saying 'no' to people - where was the equity in that?   The motion was nevertheless carried, with Crs. Neil and Gyorffy opposed.


MRRA Says:

In an earlier story on this matter, MRRA asked the question of whether, by reducing home-help programs such as lawn-mowing, someone was trying to steer elderly and infirm residents towards retirement villages (as we all know, the Shire is being bombarded with applications for these) - and here, Cr Letchford seems to give weight to our concerns.  We'd like to think there would be better reasons for approving some retirement villages than simply reducing Council's lawn-mowing costs.


MRRA agrees that inter-governmental cost-shifting really is an issue, and supports (1) Council taking very firm action with State and Commonwealth governments to obtain a higher proportion of their funding for servicing costs and (2) Council having a long hard think about the priorities it has about where ratepayers' money is spent.


Council Delivers Double Blow To Macedon Ranges' Pensioners

(31/7/06 - C)   Higher rates, and now seniors lose subsidized mowing service - pay for it yourselves, pensioners told

Mayor Geoff Neil said on the night Council approved its Budget that while the 8.91% rate increase might hurt people on low incomes, there weren't that many of them yet and Council should make hay before seniors became a voice (presumably, that's a voice Council has to listen to?).  MRRA has been told by a devastated invalid pensioner that Council staff are advising some 400 seniors by phone that they will have only two more mowing services this year, and one next year.  After that, they will have to pay full dollar ($45) to have their properties mowed, or mow them themselves.  Roof gutters will only be cleaned once a year - if the resident lives in a bushfire prone area.


MRRA Says:

Great Christmas present, isn't it?  Is it going too far to say Council seems to be giving the two-fingered salute to the Shire's most vulnerable residents?   According to our informant, Council's thinking seems to have been that since other Councils aren't providing this service, why should Macedon Ranges?   Based on its performance to date, would anyone be surprised if Council struck again by slapping infringement notices for long grass on elderly or infirm people who can't, or can't afford, to mow?  The message Council seems to be giving pensioners is that they aren't important enough politically to care about.  A cynic might go further and ask is Council penalizing elderly people so they will consider moving into the retirement villages Council seems so keen on?   Nah, they wouldn't really do that - would they?