responding: Natalie Hutchins

Ask Natalie Hutchins

  • Answer 1:

On 05/10/15 , Victorian Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins answered your top questions as posted on the 'Ask OurSay' series. Issues included: rate capping and executive salary. www.oursay.org/community/victorian-local-government


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Accountability? Of recent months a statement was released by our shire on a complaint which was voiced by two residents. In that statement the shire did not release the names of those two persons , however they did give their addresses. I took this up with Victoria Local government and the reply I received was "it all comes down to interpretation of the laws" . My question is .... Question..... When will the laws be changed to prevent this style intimidation? This can only lead to a closed community who are not game to question anything . Which takes the unity out of community.
Wayne McKail · 4 years ago
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The sooner there are independent financial controls imposed on Whitehorse council the better. Council is resisting the proposed CPI cap, but the majority of rate payers are wages/salaried people, self funded retirees or pensioners, that are at best averaging less than CPI. The cap should be CPI-X%, no salary increases/bonuses to management until the CAP-X% is reached and non management employees salaries capped at CPI. At the last Whitehorse budget when ratepayers were asked to comment on the budget the overwhelming majority opposed the rate hike, council simply ignored the objections. Council is living beyond its means undertaking discretionary capital works that some may like to have but we cannot afford. Where does council think the extra funds are coming from, its from depleting rate payers savings and from other essential household expenditure. Rates are just a tax on ratepayers, no other taxes could get these sort of annual increases without the government being removed, so it should be with councils, employ executives that can manage to a cost that rate payers can afford.
darrell phizacklea · 4 years ago
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I live in a town house and the rates are excessive and the councillors are buying art works with our money and we don't even have the privilege to see what our money has purchased. too much money and nothing effective being done. Get rid of some of these councillors and let us see what our money does for the financial year let us have a say.
Maggie Madden · 4 years ago
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Do we really need all these Councillors big noting themselves and really doing nothing to earn the obscene money?
· 4 years ago

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Rate capping is a first initiative for reforming the Local Government Sector. A bigger program is reviewing the LG Act and other associated laws, to make sure community concerns like those expressed in this social forum no longer prevail. Councils and their peak bodies are strongly against such reform changes, and continue to convince and confuse people that rate capping would result in service cuts, especially referring to service cuts, like those mentioned in this forum, that are already happening or planned in their budget plans, way before the rate capping policy development program commenced. The rate capping program requires LG to be more efficient and continues to support Councils provide services that are relevant to their needs of their community. Through a capped rate variation process, this policy also formally requires Councils to improve community participation in supporting services that truly meet community needs and wants. The propaganda of service cuts is part of the sector's usual culture of media manipulation to resist any matters that changes the status quo, especially regarding reforms that curtail Councils' resolve to spend what and how they like. It is no surprise that the community is being mislead to believe that childcare and aged care services would be affected first because of rate capping. Check your councils' financial budget forecasts and many will find many inefficiencies and hidden large reserves of surplus cash, which can be reduced and contribute to lower rates for everyone. Most metro councils are in this position. Some regional and rural councils may be exceptions - however the rate capping policy allows them to apply for capped rate variation and evidence of high quality community consultation and a strong business case are two of the criteria for approval. The rate capping policy only applies to general rate associated revenue, excluding revenue from other sources. It is a no brainer that rate capping and other future reforms coming, will benefit ratepayers and every other stakeholders. It is because these reforms will make the LG system become more transparent, accountable, community engaging and efficient. Councils do not have to choose cutting important services that are truly required by their communities. If needed they can apply for capped rate variations provided they show they have effectively consulted their communities and provided them with strong business cases. The challenge is their resolve to genuinely engage and collaborate with their communities in joint decision making - a key cultural change, being strongly resisted presently.