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The ERA publishes media releases to keep the press up to date.

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Nov 28th, 2015 - Rural lands strategy - Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association submission

General Manager
Eurobodalla Shire Council
PO Box 99
Moruya NSW 2537

Dear Dr Dale

At their meeting on 15 October 2015 Eurobodalla Shire councillors resolved to place the Draft Rural Lands Strategy on public exhibition. This submission is the Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association’s (ERA) comment on the strategy.

Over three years ago ERA's campaign for the rejection of the draft rural LEP led to council’s appointment of the Rural Land Steering Committee with the task of providing the community with modern planning regulation for rural land. This committee has worked hard to reach realistic and workable solutions to the contentious issues - E3 zoning, extensive and inaccurate environmental overlays and unnecessary restrictions on farm sub-division and building entitlements.

ERA congratulate the committee on the outcomes, in particular the recommended non-use of the E3 zone, the sunset clause, the removal of the requirement to have a tar sealed council maintained road to be eligible for a building entitlement. These improvements should benefit many in the shire’s rural communities.


We note that the council’s consultant estimates that the committee's proposals agreed to date will allow approval of an additional 100 new rural blocks and 300 extra building entitlements.


Comments on the draft strategy
However, it appears that the inclusion of a new vegetation overlay is now proposed in the draft strategy. The ERA opposes the use of overlays in the Local Environment Plan and is surprised that this matter is addressed at all. We note that at its meeting on 22 July 2014 council resolved, on the motion of Councillors Brown and Innes, that “1. The Rural Land Strategy recommends that overlays not be included in the LEP………….” Apparently, the council’s consultant failed to get the memo advising him of this important client requirement!


In any event, ERA rejects the consultant’s argument that dropping the earlier proposed use of an E3 zone strengthens the need for a vegetation overlay as a helpful pointer to other legislated environmental restrictions. It is ironic that one reason given for this substitution is that it reduces the necessity for a higher level of map accuracy required for an environmental zone.


Given the extensive legislated controls on farming operations these days, farmers and buyers of rural land (and their advisers) need to exercise ordinary due diligence in discovering all the restrictions applying to rural land. This is best done by reference to the evolving primary legislation rather than by relying on inaccurate overlays forming part of prescriptive and rigid land use planning regulations.


Guidelines and “helpful suggestions” from bureaucrats have a habit of being turned into black letter law over time. Overlays are not legally required and not used by many NSW rural councils.


Additionally, the ERA recommends to council the removal from the LEP of all E zones, all references to biobanking and voluntary biodiversity agreements and rural landscape guidelines. We support smaller lot sizes than are proposed, lot size averaging and further housing entitlements on rural blocks. Councillor Liz Innes, a member of the Rural Land Strategy Committee, is aware of the details of ERA’s suggestions in regard to these matters.


Comments on the process
Given its extensive engagement with this process, ERA would like to make some general comments on its experience.
First, it has been apparent for some time that the task of revising a complex piece of government regulation is beyond the capabilities of council’s planning department. Andrew Constance has drawn attention to the long time, relative to other rural councils, that ESC has taken to complete the task. Clearly, there are economies of scale in legislative policy development. These should be identified in the current sea level rise policy development process, before it is too late.
Second, the community consultation has been excessive, repetitive and inefficient. Land owners and others resent being asked the same questions repeatedly, particularly when their answers are ignored.


Third, it is apparent that staff planners, planning consultants and some councillors have an ideological bias against recognising the foundations of productive, efficient and socially responsible farming – viz private property rights, minimum government interference in markets and incentives for private land owners to protect the environment. And council staff’s failure to recognise the impact of uncertainty in legislative frameworks on the operations of rural land markets was particularly noticeable. It was greatly disappointing that councillors with nominal liberal political values did not stand up for individual land owners against the insatiable, yet rarely properly specified, demands of the state to interfere with their private property.


Finally, consistent with ERA’s long standing concern for better governance and management at ESC, you are requested to convene and chair a public post mortem on this project to consider what went wrong and what you should do about it. Your predecessor, Paul Anderson, contemplated holding a post mortem at the end of the poorly managed Moruya-Deep Creek Dam pipeline project, but left before it could be organised.


Such a meeting would allow those people closely involved to express frank opinions on what went wrong and what was done well. It would enable you to clear the air, draw a line under the project and, hopefully, rebuild some of the public confidence you lost along the way. At the same time, you could present the community with the total costs of the project, including consultants’ fees, staff costs and RLS committee members’ costs. We would expect that final costs would also include an estimate of those costs, particularly lost production by farmers, that community members have borne in interacting with council.


Thanks for the opportunity to comment. We look forward to participating in a post mortem meeting


Yours sincerely

Paul Bradstreet
For Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association.


 

 


ERA Press Release - 13 November 2015 - FARMERS REJECT USE OF NATIVE VEGETATION OVERLAY IN RURAL LEP

At recent public meetings called by Eurobodalla Shire Council to allow land owners to consider the draft Rural Land Strategy (RLS) attendees voted decisively to reject the proposed incorporation of a native vegetation overlay in the rural local environment plan. Also, many farmers let council’s consultants know that they objected to the length of the process and the consultants’ failure to incorporate previous public comment in the strategy. Others said they resented the fact that they were being asked yet again to raise their concerns, which have been known to council’s planners for at least five years.

Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association spokesperson Councillor Liz Innes said, “Attendees could not have been clearer in their opposition to the use of the vegetation overlay in the proposed LEP. No one spoke in support of its use and members of the RLS committee spoke against it.”

“ While the strategy deals with the major issues raised by farmers in the past – E3 zones, smaller minimum lot sizes, and more housing entitlements it fails to come to grips with the fundamental issue – the least costly way for farmers to comply with legislated environmental restrictions on their private land. Remarkably, the consultant described a policy of protection of private property rights as “controversial” and likely to offend the planning bureaucrats“

“The ERA rejects the consultant’s argument that dropping the earlier proposed use of an E3 zone strengthens the need for a vegetation overlay as a helpful pointer to other legislated environmental restrictions. It is ironic that one reason given for this substitution is that it reduces the necessity for a higher level of map accuracy required for an environmental zone. Given the extensive legislated controls on farming operations these days, farmers and buyers of rural land (and their advisers) need to exercise ordinary due diligence in discovering all the restrictions applying to rural land. This is best done by reference to primary legislation rather than by relying on inaccurate overlays forming part of prescriptive and rigid land use planning regulations.’

Councillor Innes continued, “And given the farmers’ opposition to the consultant’s other proposals in the draft RLS I will be pressing the RLS committee to recommend to council the removal from the LEP of all E zones and overlays, all references to biobanking, voluntary biodiversity agreements and rural landscape guidelines. I will be supporting smaller lot sizes than are proposed and further housing entitlements on rural blocks. “

“Farmers know from long experience that guidelines and “helpful suggestions” from bureaucrats have a habit of being turned into black letter law over time. Overlays are not legally required and not used by many NSW rural councils”

Councillor Innes concluded “The views of the public meeting attendees were so strongly and clearly expressed that they must be acted on by councillors. I call on Mayor Brown to bring the RLS process to a swift conclusion by supporting the immediate completion of the LEP in line with the community’s wishes.

EUROBODALLA RATEPAYERS ASSOCIATION
13 November 2015

 

 


ERA Newsletter - 2 November 2015


Mayor Brown needs to wait until full time before claiming stand alone victory.

Mayor Lindsay Brown's welcoming of IPART's recommendation that Eurobodalla Shire Council is "fit for the future" as a stand alone council is premature and goes right over the top. He has claimed that " ...the outcome of the IPART review is evidence that we are delivering value for money and operating efficiently" and that ".........there is no evidence supporting perceptions that Eurobodalla Shire Council is a "bad" council, or has poor management, or that it obstructs growth."

Apart from misrepresenting the IPART analysis, these claims are way out of line with the lived experience of the ratepayers of the shire. More importantly, they show an ignorance of government decision making.

IPART was given a very narrow, financially based, time constrained task by the government. It was not required to, nor did it, comment on council management. Its methodology has been widely criticised in the local government community and by a powerful all party committee of the NSW parliament. The parliamentary committee's first finding was that " ......IPART...... does not have the demonstrated skills or capacity to assess the overall "fitness" of councils as democratically responsible local bodies." This finding underlines the need for the government to take into account a number of other important matters, particularly the management competence of councils, in reaching its final decisions on amalgamations.

Our local member, Andrew Constance, has pointed out that ESC's history of past poor management requires it to engage genuinely with the FFF process and make a real effort in reform, including a proper discussion of amalgamation options with the community and our neighbouring councils. He has said that, notwithstanding the IPART advice, a merger of ESC with another council or councils remains in play. Regrettably, council pays as much attention to Andrew as it does to the community and has chosen to go its own way by resisting any serious examination of the considerable opportunities arising from these options.

The controversial way council formulated its fit for the future proposal, although ignored by IPART, has been brought to the government's attention by the ERA. In particular, we are unimpressed that council rejigged its forward financial estimates using accounting tricks to paint a much more optimistic picture than was advised to IPART and the community during council's very recent Special Rates Variation application. The fact that this sudden change of tack was not drawn to the community's attention is a public disgrace. Additionally, rather than attempt to meet the IPART specified scale and capacity requirements, council relied on an earlier and less detailed test applied by the Independent Local Review.

Mayor Brown has seriously misjudged the government's determination to effect real change through the fit for the future process. Other councils have been more responsive. For example, last week Wyong and Gosford councils agreed to commence merger talks, after previously proposing to go it alone.

Mayor Brown and his mates have left the community right out of the decision making process. Simply telling us that he has spoken to the mayors of Bega, Shoalhaven and Palarang councils and that together they oppose amalgamations doesn't cut it with ratepayers who know that no serious analysis of the options has been done. The proposed shared services memorandum of understanding with Bega is little more than last minute window dressing.

So Mayor Brown's view that IPART's recommendation is a ringing endorsement of his leadership and council's management is just wrong headed rhetoric. And his assertion that there is no evidence supporting perceptions of bad management is ironic given the way the council's fit for the future proposal was developed without public consultation.

Over the seven years of the ERA's life there has been considerable improvement in council's performance, but it is too early to claim that the shire's governance and management is operating at a level acceptable to the community. And the improvements cannot be reasonably attributed to the mayor's leadership. After all, he long opposed an early return to a balanced general fund budget before he was mayor and, more recently, in the SRV application.

Mayor Brown has wrongly and arrogantly claimed a premature victory in his quest to keep ESC's insular culture isolated from the modern world. He now runs the risk of having the NSW government impose politically determined boundaries on the shire when the real decisions are made later in the year.

EUROBODALLA RATEPAYERS ASSOCIATION
2 November 2015



Click here to listen to Kerry Foster of ERA discuss the benefits of amalgamation with Pallerang and Quenabeyan Councils - from an interview on ABC South East Radio October 28th, 2015

 

Media Release October 29th, 2015 - Mayor appears to have "No Idea" regarding amalgamation

Eurobodalla Shire Councillors went behind closed doors at the Council meeting of 28th Oct 2015 to decide our fate about amalgamation. If you watch the webcast right near the end you will see that the Mayor could not even bring himself to say the word “amalgamation” in public; he called it “the other matter”. This is how determined our councillors are to exclude us from the conversation.

Prior to the meeting ERA asked all councillors and the Mayor two questions:

“The Minister for Local Government and the Premier of NSW have both declared that Councils will be merged. The Local Member Andrew Constance has recently flagged that at least Palerang Council is under consideration for merger with Eurobodalla. This is by definition the biggest event in the history of Eurobodalla Shire and as a Councillor of this Shire it would be expected that you have a point of view and an action or inaction plan for the ratepayers that you represent. We ask you the following question on their behalf:

Considering that there is $15 million for infrastructure projects such as aquatic centres and performing arts centres and $10 million which will only be given to councils who actively seek amalgamation, do you support sitting back and doing nothing and risk losing Eurobodalla’s share of $25 million? Will you continue to support ongoing special rate rises?”

As it is not unusual for the more arrogant of Councillors to ignore ratepayers’ enquiries when it suits them, we added an incentive to reply in that if there was no response we would publish their nil response as “No idea.”
Mayor Lindsay Brown: No idea; Clr Gabi Harding: No idea; Clr Danielle Brice: No idea. Certainly they have no ideas which they want to share with you the ratepayer.

As it turns out that may have been a good strategy. Clr Pollock ignored the questions and made some rambling response regarding the allocation of ERA preferences at the election over 3 years ago. Clr Schwarz responded with a bedtime story about the financial dealings of dental surgeries. He called his reply simple. Schwarz also demonstrated his total lack of understanding of the IPART report in the same way that Clr Burnside did in his reply.

Burnside, after lashing ERA and everyone else for only having “half the facts”, went on to make a complete fool of himself (as did Schwarz) by calling Palerang and Queanbeyan “basket cases” “crumbling bridges and roads” “unfit”. In fact IPART found both those Councils Fit in all categories including financially fit, bar one: scale and capacity; they are too small. Neither of them could have read the report. The concern for all ratepayers is that these two Councillors are prepared to make life altering decisions for others with little or no research, little or no understanding and arrogant incompetence. This alone makes amalgamation appealing.

ERA Councillors Innes and Leslight want this debate in the public arena. They do not want this shire forever dependent upon SRV’s. They support all of the potential benefits of amalgamation. They say it is up to the six councillors who whisper their decisions about amalgamation behind closed doors to prove why it is not one of the greatest opportunities for this long stagnating Shire. It is not good enough to say we are OK; we want to be the best we can be. The next fact shows what OK means.

FACT: In the last 5 years 2.6% population growth in Eurobodalla, yet 4.1% in NSW and 4.6% in same Group 4 Councils as ours. Yet this Council wants more of the same.


Ron Gifford - ERA


Councillor Schwarz reply:

Dear Mr Gifford

Let me put it to you as simply as possible.

Imagine one has a dentistry practice and the business is going well. In fact, recently you had an external consultant in and they told you that your business is fit for the future and you are serving your customer base well. Your finances are in good order, as are your assets. Then one day, someone from ERA (not sure who they are or what they represent these days) says that you should take on two other practices that lose money hand over fist, after they joined forces, whose assets are in disrepair, their books are a shambles and their customer base small but geographically big (9000 sq km with crumbling roads and bridges) and the people not happy. ERA thinks it is a fantastic idea to use the hard earned dollars of Eurobodalla shareholders to bail out two failed practices to the west on a vibe.

But if you take on these two new distant practices you may get a new backyard pool (above ground) thrown in, but your Eurobodalla shareholders (Mum and Dad) will have to service and maintain it, but in this case, let's just call it Palerang dentistry, has decided to stand alone and therefore Eurobodalla will not get the cheap pool.

Please oh enlightened ERA persons, please tell us where where the value is. Always on the lookout for a good deal.

Perhaps Clr Leslight will show us the way tomorrow. The Motion he is moving is really on the pace.

Regards
Clr Peter Schwarz

Clr Pollock reply
Hi Ron,I remember the fantastic deal you offered me at the last local govt. election, I am sure you remember- My second preferences for ERA 3rd preferences,so as a councillor with no idea ,please at least include this info as a prelude.

Cheers
Clr Rob Pollock

Clr Burnside reply
Hi Ron,

Thanks for your email. Great to see you using tact and diplomacy in your usual artful way.

Your observation regarding Councils merging is correct. Last Tuesday, the Government released IPART's findings on the 'Fit for the Future' process which found about 2/3rd's of Councils didn't make it by their criteria.

Fortunately, Eurobodalla, along with our neighbours, Bega and Shoalhaven, originally deigned by the State to be 'stand alone' Councils, demonstrated that they conformed to the requirement to be fit, and are not being considered for amalgamation. This hasn't stopped us forging ahead with an MOU with Bega Shire to get more economies and use our close similarities to our mutual advantage. I heard Andrew Constance on the radio last week too, and noted that he's no longer looking at coastal Council mergers but is wanting us to look west to develop scale of operations.

Naturally, when he said that, our Mayor called his Palerang counterpart and was told that they were simply not interested in continuing the argument and would draw a line in the sand as a 'stand alone' Council, daring the State to sack them which they probably will do.

Funds from the State supporting amalgamations are made available to Councils which agree to merge, individually and collectively. No funds would be made available for us to merge with Palerang as they don't agree.

Palerang is a Council formed a few years back by amalgamating Braidwood and Bungendore, two financially unviable Councils, into one -- as it turns out -- great big unviable Council. It's a basket case -- small pop., huge road system (1400km of roads; 700 of them dirt - 30% of their budget spent just on them) small rate base and no money. What on earth would there be to gain by us taking them on? Bungendore and Queanbeyan are virtually commuter suburbs of Canberra and Braidwood has historic links -- educational; business etc. with Goulburn so there's absolutely no 'community of interest' either.

If you can form an argument that demonstrates that Eurobodalla and Bega ratepayers (also Bega State seat electors) would somehow be better joining with their unfit tablelands neighbours taking on a raft of problems that we simply don't have, then I'd love to hear it.

If, however, i don't hear from you in 48 hours I'll file your email under 'here goes Ron again armed with half the facts'.

Yours in tact and diplomacy,

Neil




October 22nd, 2015- Eurobodalla Shire should consider looking West - Council Amalgamations.

The Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association (ERA) wishes to advise that following the release of the IPART’S Fit for the Future results Eurobodalla Shire is now placed in a very exciting position.

As indicated by our local member Andrew Constance there are two Councils, Palerang and Queanbeyan to our west which have been deemed “unfit”. Both of these Councils have much in common and have shared interests with Eurobodalla.

More than thirty per cent of Eurobodalla rates are currently paid by the folks to our west; they choose to buy homes here and holiday on the South Coast. Our common interests include farming communities, rural and small businesses, tourism, and strong community interest in road safety on the Kings Highway; a combined effort would see the road vastly improved.

Eurobodalla Council (ESC) is a member of the South East Region of Councils (SEROC), which includes Palerang and Queanbeyan. The current, and previous Council, communicated the value of SEROC membership to ratepayers. These regions share our interests and would want to help build and share our future prosperity.

On ABC Local Radio, Member for Bega Andrew Constance continues to challenge councils in his electorate to think beyond being found ‘Fit for the Future’ to what they can do to ensure ratepayers get value for money and the services and infrastructure they deserve.

The answer seems clear. Eurobodalla Council has 30 days to broker a deal with Palerang and Queanbeyan to voluntarily merge. Council can then tap into the recently announced new Stronger Communities Fund, which provides each new council up to $15 million to invest in community infrastructure projects such as an Aquatic Centre or a Performing Arts Centre, and $10 million for each new council to ensure that ratepayers do not pay for the up-front costs of merging. This funding is only available to those mergers agreed to by councils and the NSW Government.

ESC cannot wait until amalgamation is made to happen and it is clear that the State government will amalgamate unfit councils with fit councils. ESC must approach the State government with a plan to amalgamate with Palerang and Queanbeyan or miss out on the money and opportunity.

The ERA backs a merger between Eurobodalla, Palerang and Queanbeyan. It is an unexpected gift out of the ‘Fit for the Future’ process. It’s a chance to re-energise the shire, create jobs and opportunities for families and young people, and build better transport links.

 


NOTE: We have been asked by some of our members to spell out the benefits of amalgamations . We have put our thoughts into a simple document , for discussion

 

For the interest of ERA members and supporters. September 11th, 2015

Mayor Lindsay Brown has indicated in his submission to the the NSW Legislative Council’s inquiry into local government his interest in considering a move away from land rates based on unimproved value to capital improved value, which refers to the total market value of the land and improved value of the property and that rate exemptions such as pensioner rebates should be reviewed for sustainability and equity - without any community consultation

The ERA was surprised to learn that Mayor Lindsay Brown, on August 17, made the following statement to the NSW Legislative Council’s inquiry into local government.

Eurobodalla Shire Council
Formal Deputation to General Purpose Standing Committee No. 6 –
Inquiry into Local Government in New South Wales

Eurobodalla Shire Council is pleased to have the opportunity to make a formal deputation to General Purpose Standing Committee No. 6 - Inquiry into Local Government in New South Wales and provides the following comments in relation to the inquiries Terms of Reference.
(a) The New South Wales Government’s ‘Fit for the Future’ reform agenda,

Eurobodalla supports the reform agenda. It is a sound process based on independent assessment and advice which we believe will result in improved performance for councils and outcomes for our community.

The Government has adopted the recommendations of the Independent Local Government Review Panel. To ensure the ongoing integrity of the process, the Government must now proceed to act on those recommendations related to the revenue side of the sustainability equation.

We have embraced the opportunity to develop an Improvement Proposal that builds on our existing strengths and demonstrates our commitment to financial sustainability, continuous improvement, and meeting our community’s needs. Council is confident that through planned financial sustainability improvements, effective regional collaboration and strong local focus, it can continue to operate as a sound sustainable standalone council into the future.

This view is supported by the assessment of the Independent Local Government Review Panel who identified Eurobodalla as a ‘No Change’ Council.
(b) The financial sustainability of the local government sector in New South Wales, including the measures used to benchmark local government as against the measures used to benchmark State and Federal Government in Australia,

Eurobodalla recognises the need to improve financial sustainability in the local government sector, and prior to the Fit for the Future process had embarked on a path of improvement. However, Council concurs with the findings of the Independent Local Government Review Panel, and is of the firm belief that there is a need to address the current flawed funding system for Local Government, in order to strengthen the long-term financial position of councils. Key issues for consideration include:

- The rate pegging system in its current form impacts adversely on sound financial management particularly in regional areas with low rate bases. This system requires review.
- There is a need for more equitable rate calculation methods with a shift from land value to capital improved value as the basis for rating.
- Rate exemptions such as pensioner rebates and commercial activities in Forestry Corporation NSW and National Parks should be reviewed for sustainability and equity. National parks attract visitors and users of local infrastructure and Forestry Corporation NSW are a significant user of our rural roads, yet make no financial contribution to the provision, maintenance or renewal of infrastructure.
- Cost shifting from other levels of government has been documented and quantified, yet minimal action has been taken to address the issue.
- Financial Assistance Grants have been frozen for three years which has the long term impact of permanently reducing funding to councils. This model requires review to reinstate indexation and ensure equity in distribution, particularly to regional and rural councils

These challenges were acknowledged by the Independent Local Government Review Panel which concluded that ‘a number of significant changes are warranted in order to strengthen councils’ revenue base within the overall framework of fiscal responsibility’.

Local Government receives just 3.5% of national tax income. Council recognises the expenditure restraint at a State and Australian Government level and the difficulty in providing additional funding. Nonetheless, Council will continue to advocate for more equitable distribution of the funds available.

For example, the introduction of rating based on capital improved value has the potential to increase Local Government tax income, particularly in metropolitan areas. This would enable Financial Assistance Grants normally allocated to these areas to be redirected to regional and rural councils demonstrating greater need. This would result in improved equity without further injection of NSW or Australian Government funding. This option was well documented in the ILGRP report.

(c) The performance criteria and associated benchmark values used to assess local authorities in NSW
I will not comment on this criteria other than to refer the Committee to Council’s submission to IPART on the ‘Methodology for Assessment of Council’s Fit for the Future Proposal’ and table a copy for the Committee’s information.

(d) The scale of local councils in New South Wales

Numerous factors influence what is perceived to be an ‘optimal’ scale for local councils. It is Council’s view that in relation to scale, not one size fits all. Every council area has a different community, economy, geography and local needs which should be assessed and considered on merit for each individual case.
It is Council’s view that local government areas should reflect a community of interest, maintain local identity and representation, and ensure that Council is best sized and configured to advocate for local business and infrastructure that supports the local economy. For example, Eurobodalla continues to advocate strongly and successfully for funding and improvements to the Kings Highway, a critical transport corridor for our local community. It is arguable that this same level of advocacy would not come from a larger council with differing priorities.

Many of the services provided by council, where they require or benefit from direct contact, are more effectively delivered to residents at a smaller scale to maintain responsiveness. Economies of scale for activities such as procurement can and are being achieved through appropriate regional collaboration.

(g) Costs and benefits of amalgamations for local residents and businesses, and
(k) The known and or likely costs and benefits of amalgamations for local communities
The amalgamation agenda appears to be driven by economies of scale and the thought process that bigger is better. There does not appear to be any overwhelming evidence that this is the case particularly in regional and rural areas. Similarly the likely benefits of amalgamation are in many cases uncertain, and difficult to measure objectively.
It is our view that the larger a council becomes the more remote it is likely to become from its community in terms of accessibility and participation. With the substantial transitional costs, any benefits are unlikely to be realised in the short to medium term.

Council believes that working closely with our neighbouring councils and State and Australian Government agencies to explore service delivery options, support and drive economic growth, and improved performance is a more workable approach especially in large geographical and regional areas such as Eurobodalla.

As outlined, the real issue for local government in regional areas is not amalgamations, but addressing the flawed funding model and driving ongoing efficiencies. Regardless of how the sector is configured, real and lasting improvement will not be achieved unless the funding framework is reformed.

The Government must continue with the reform agenda and allow ‘No Change’ councils, such as Eurobodalla, to implement their improvement proposals. Together these actions will contribute to positive change and improved outcomes for our community. It is for these reasons Eurobodalla supports the ILGRP recommendation that we remain as a standalone Council.

(l) The role of co-operative models for local government including the ‘Fit for the Futures’ own Joint Organisations, Strategic Alliances, Regional Organisations of Councils, and other shared service models, such as the Common Service Model,

Enhanced regional collaboration, both amongst councils and between other levels of government, has a key role to play in improvement and reform.
Eurobodalla is keen to explore the opportunities available as a result of innovative and diverse partnerships. As well as being an active member of the South East JO, the General Managers and Mayors of Eurobodalla and Bega Shire Councils have agreed to develop a corporate memorandum of understanding to address key areas of collaboration such as regional infrastructure development, contracts, policy development, and professional support and benchmarking.

Successful JO’s should take a lead in the delivery of strategic outcomes, advocacy, supporting regional growth, intergovernmental collaboration and strategic infrastructure planning for regional and rural areas.

The JO model should foster collaboration, be flexible enough to meet individual community needs and consist of groups of councils with similar issues, and be able to operate with minimal cost.

Eurobodalla is of the opinion that a well-established regional organisation undertaking a range of shared services, joint planning and special projects can achieve significant cost savings and service improvements, develop additional strategic capacity, and at the same time retain the benefits of smaller councils – in particular a high level of local political representation and responsiveness to community needs.

(p) Any other related matter

Further to the financial sustainability considerations raised in both the Fit for the Future reform package and this submission, it would be prudent for the Government to commission a review of depreciation modelling in the local government sector with a view to standardising the approach across the State to reflect fit for purpose. This would allow for consistency in calculations and improve the ability to benchmark results in relation to key financial sustainability indicators.

I thank the Committee for allowing me to make this presentation and would be happy to answer any questions or provide additional information at the Committee’s request.

Councillor Lindsay Brown
Mayor

 

The following is a the complete letter from Kerry Foster to the Editor of the Bay Post regarding the submission above.

The letter to the editor was published on September 10th, 2015 however it was highly edited. The full, unedited letter reads:

I would be very grateful if the Mayor and his fellow councillors would bring the community into a discussion about Council’s advocacy to the NSW Parliament to shift rate calculations from Land Value to Capital Improvement Value or CIV.

Like me, you may be surprised to learn that Cr Lindsay Brown recently, on 17 August, made a statement to the NSW Legislative Council General Purpose Standing Committee No 6 –Inquiry into Local Government in New South Wales.

In his statement Cr Brown, among other things, argued that there is a “need for more equitable rate calculation methods with a shift from land value to capital improved value as the basis for rating.

Capital improved value or CIV refers to the total market value of the land plus the improved value of the property including the house, other buildings and landscaping. A CIV calculation is significantly different when compared to a rating calculation based only on land value.

Where did this idea for a CIV come from?

Well a little bit of research and I found that Dr Catherine Dale, General Manager of Eurobodalla Shire Council was the former CEO of City of Boroondara, a municipality with some of Melbourne’s wealthier suburbs.

The City of Boroondara elected to adopt the Capital Improvement Value method of valuation in 1997-1998, as “the most equitable way to distribute the rate burden among the community.” Perhaps Dr Dale’s depth of experience could be shared with the community so that we understand how this recommendation, if successful, would affect our hip pocket.

Cr Brown also made a case to the Standing Committee that rate exemptions such as pensioner rebates should be reviewed for sustainability and equity.
This statement contrasts Council’s strong claims to IPART about the equity and financial sustainability of the Eurobodalla’s rating strategy, and hardship policies. Both in its application for a Special Rate Variation, and in its Fit for the Future Improvement Plan. Nowhere in either submission did Council mention its intention to advocate for rate calculation methods based on Capital Improvement Values.

When will community consultation start?

When will Council post a copy of Cr Brown’s statement to the NSW Legislative Council to the council website?

Will Council engage the community on the upcoming Review of Local Government Rates by IPART, and will Council inform the community that they too can make submissions?

Will Council ensure there is robust community debate about its proposition that rates are based on Capital Improvement Values?

When the Mayor speaks to the NSW Legislative Council, he represents the views of the Eurobodalla community. When he neglects to tell us that he will make recommendations that affect our livelihood he neglects his constituents. It may be tiresome to hear it said over, and over, but consistency between what is said and what is done matters.


Kerry Foster, Malua Bay

 

 

PRESS RELEASE 17th March 2015,

The ERA remains your organisation committed to applying the principles taken to the last election.

The resignation from ERA of Neil Burnside and Peter Schwarz is of itself no big deal. The fact of the matter is they have not had the maturity to see beyond personality differences with their fellow ERA Councillors so as to continue to work according to the ERA principles for the rights of ratepayers. A clear example of their breach of faith with those who voted for ERA was their motion at Council to pursue a Special Rate Variation which was 8% at the time. This was not and is not ERA policy. Currently ERA has sent a submission to IPART recommending a 1.2% rate increase to be matched by a 1.2% efficiency savings by ESC.

In some delusional way Burnside and Schwarz have justified their resignations by the absence of Mr Bradstreet who supposedly “was supportive of our position on a number of council policy matters”. Mr. Bradstreet can speak for himself, but it is a matter of record that he strenuously opposed Burnside and Schwartz on their SRV proposal. He spent countless hours trying to persuade the two to support the ERA submission without success.

An elected councillor’s job is to be highly critical of the operation of Council by the bureaucracy. They are the eyes, ears and mouthpiece of the ratepayer; being critical does not mean condemnation, it means analytical improvement and scrutiny of process. It has long been a battle with these two individuals to have them understand the separation of responsibilities. At committee they became apologists for ESC rather than the elected representatives of ratepayers.

Councillors are in the public domain as their actions can affect people’s lives at the core. It should be noted that these two councillors resigned from ERA by stealth. Their press release was and is the only notification the Committee received of their resignation. After the effort members of the ERA Committee put into resolving the interpersonal problems of councillors, I personally find their mode of action to be as disappointing as it is revealing.

The ERA remains your organisation committed to applying the principles taken to the last election. It also remains a non-profit voluntary organisation. We will have our moments.

Yours sincerely,
Ron Gifford
Registered Officer ERA.


PRESS RELEASE February 3rd, 2015

EUROBODALLA RATEPAYERS ASSOCIATION CALLS ON EUROBODALLA SHIRE COUNCILLORS TO SLASH THE SPECIAL RATE VARIATION

The Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association (ERA) opposes Eurobodalla Shire Council’s (ESC) proposal to apply to the independent regulator, IPART, for a special rate variation of 25.97% over the next three years. This increase, if approved, will raise $5.7m from ratepayers and be supplemented by $15.7m of increased borrowings to allow delivery of a $21.4m program of infrastructure renewals and maintenance. ERA calls on all councillors to listen to the community and reduce the increase sought to a much lower, more affordable amount directed towards a better targeted infrastructure program.

Convenor, Geoff Plews, commented: “The ERA supports better council governance and management and a balanced operational budget. It acknowledges that, prima facie, the shire faces a backlog in transport infrastructure maintenance and renewal. Additionally, council holds many requests for community projects of varying merit which demand a response. These problems will not go away and responsible financial management requires that they are addressed, but in a way the community wants and can afford. ”

“Comprehensive community consultation has revealed that a significant majority of ratepayers reject the Special Rate Variation package proposed. Major evidence for this is that the Micromex survey research undertaken late last year found that about two thirds of respondents preferred no increase in rates to the detailed program recommended by council. It is concerning that in the face of this and other feedback, including a petition containing more than 6000 signatures, no changes to the recommended list of infrastructure projects has been made. Ratepayer opposition of this magnitude cannot be brushed aside.”

“ERA also believes that other sources of council revenue and cost savings have yet to be exhausted. Council holds considerable cash reserves, surplus operational land and commercial assets. The long delayed service review has considerable potential for further savings. Anecdotal examples of waste continue to be reported to ERA. All these matters have been ignored in the financial estimates”.

“Further, ERA notes with concern that council have done very little work on the ratepayers’ capacity to pay the large increases in rates proposed. In a low income community, this reduces the prospect of IPART’s approval of the proposal.”

“ERA understands the need for council to have a reliable and permanent source of increased income to address the infrastructure renewal/maintenance gap in the long run. But it questions the strategy of establishing this on the back of a large program of small, discretionary projects of varying merit which the community cannot afford. ”

Mr Plews said “Given council’s circumstances, particularly the need to respond to the community’s clear message, ERA recommends that council confines its special rate rise to an annual amount sufficient to cover the interest and capital repayments on increased loans of $10m. To achieve this reduction it proposes that council removes from the program those discretionary projects identified in the Micromex research as having lowest community support. These would include, the Moruya library extensions, improvements to local halls, provision of accessible viewing platforms and the upgrades to sportsgrounds, local reserves and parks. Taken together these reductions could cut up to $10m from the program.

Essential, loan funded infrastructure projects with a demonstrated economic development purpose (eg roads, bridges, culverts, town centre revitalisations, Casey’s Beach rock wall) should stay in the program. If annual interest payments and capital repayments for only these projects were recovered through an SRV the burden on ratepayers could be reduced to an ongoing level of about $1m a year.

Mr Plews said “Council’s role is to supply and maintain the public infrastructure that the community says it needs and can afford. Council now has this information and must act on it. The reduced program recommended will address the most important components of the infrastructure gap for the time being. However, it will not assist an earlier achievement of a balanced operating budget and some community backlash from cancellation of small community projects can be expected. ERA believes the appropriate time to pursue the balanced budget objective through rate rises is after council has demonstrated to ratepayers’ satisfaction that all potential sources of internal savings and external funding have dried up. “

Mr Plews concluded: “While council’s current proposal is unacceptable to the community, a better targeted and greatly reduced SRV application has some prospect of community support and IPART approval.”

 

PRESS RELEASE 25th August, 2014.

The South Coast Regional Sea Level Rise Planning and Policy Response

The South Coast Regional Sea Level Rise Planning and Policy Response Framework is currently on exhibition. The report presents the guidelines on how Council is going to incorporate sea level rise projections into the development and planning controls of your properties. It is suggested that all ratepayers visit Council's website and carefully read what the draft policy has in mind for defining what land will be subjected to sea level rise and what restrictions will be imposed to that land.


By now a large number of ERA supporters will have received a letter from the Council on the Subject of Rising Sea Levels, and the possible impacts on your property. Thanks must go to Clr Milton Leslight, helped by David Lambert who has worked tirelessly, with the other ERA Councillors to bring this matter to the attention of a wider audience.

Remember, that since the last Council in 2011 passed this legislation - lead by Clrs. Thomson, Pollock and Brown, there has been a constant effort from the Council to NOT inform the community as to the impacts and effects of this draconian policy. Clr Pollock is famous for telling his colleagues that he did not wish to spook the ‘herd’. Don’t give the community bad news was his edict.

Each time the matter has been debated in Chamber , the five of Councillors - Brown, Pollock, Thomson ,Brice and Harding, who slavishly follow what the council tell them --have opted to keep the matter closed [ usual story] until all the Consultants reports are finished etc ,etc.

Clr. Leslight and Mr Lambert have found debate for the other side of the story difficult- to say the least!

The hypocrisy of the Greens councillor is there for all see. She wants openness and transparency on Huntfest, which is one of her pet subjects, but not on rising sea levels.

One ERA member has calculated that notations on his home for rising sea levels {the famous section 149 certificate} have changed at least 4 times in the last four years.

By the way, you can get one of these certificates from council for your property, but you have to pay for it! But even then, by the time you have received it, the notation could have been changed on the Council record as has happened to people already.

Members of the community who attended the Twyford sessions will remember the late Frank Milner expressing his disgust when the Council started to pin up on the walls the answers THEY wanted. The ERA has the same view on this subject. Behind closed doors, once again the community is being screwed for the dictates and benefits of a few.

We now know that the Consultants were given a briefing by Council, with a document which had been written by the Council Planning Department, and we believe, in collusion with the Office of the Environment and Heritage and the State Planning Department.

To some of us – that says it all.

The first thing that we ask you to do is demand from the Council to see this briefing document. This will allow you to check on how much ideology has crept in from our climate change / green/socialist friends who are intent on wrecking everything. We also want to check the figures that have been used.

The Consultant’s final report is now on the Council web site for you to read, but just remember who and what was behind it.

The final document will become part of the Coastal Zone Management Plan
If they will not release the briefing document, just like the In Sync report, you will know that they are hiding something.

The second thing to do is to contact the Council and ask for the hard evidence on how the policy will impact on you. Not some future computer model, but hard factual evidence. Correct sea level rise figures to date please - for this area.

For your information David tells us that Fort Denison has shown an average 1.4mm rise per annum for the last 28 years.

Ask the Council if they are using this figure?

Then make up your OWN mind as to the future.

Those of us that have lived here for a long time, remember that wild weather in the past has caused flooding through storms and high seas. Just like fire, this is the Australian climate we are talking about. It’s rough sometimes.

Looking at actual rising sea levels to date, they have been pretty minimal, but that does not stop the doomsayers telling us that we are finished in the future! Nobody really can predict the future weather patterns they can only make a measured guess.
The Insurance industry will be dancing. More costs for the community to bear.

Next - remember the actions of the rural community and the LEP. They formed committees and eventually got Council to change the hated E3, which was just another piece of mindless legislation that people did not want. Driven by the same ideology that drives the policy on rising sea levels.

Remember the recent Bio –certification fiasco. Voluntary for all Councils, who nearly all declined, saying no thank you - but guess what - yes OUR Council went for it!!
The community should have been at one of the LEP Consultant’s reviews where over twenty hands went up round the table from property owners in support of the removal of the planning department members who have caused the shambles. As one sane mannered member of the community said at the end of the meeting --The Council will do nothing about the planning department, but I bet the Consultant will never get work here again for telling the truth!

See how the Council works. Supposed community consultation, but nothing really changes.

At the same time the ERA feels that the State Government should NOT have given Councils the remit to resolve this issue. The matter is too important for local Councils to resolve. Some blame should be put on them for this mess.
So the ERA Councillors will give their time to talk to you about the subject, call them --- as well as David Lambert. David can be contacted through the ERA or by calling him direct on 0411 189 227.

It is up to you. Get organised, get your submissions in, get the facts, or get submerged in supposed water.

But Remember ----Can this Council be trusted to give you the correct facts or a behind the scenes political one?

 


A LONG OVERDUE STAND AGAINST STIFLING OVER-REGULATION - ERA POSITION PAPER 1 JULY '14

In the past week, the ERA has come under fire from some sections of the development community for our stand against bio - certification.

ERA's decision was not taken lightly, due to the fact that it is central to our base principles of supporting sensible development that promotes economic and social benefits while, at the same time, defending property owner's rights. The price suggested for the achievement of the first aim, delivered to us last week, is simply too high to support the tenet of defending the latter; property owner's rights.

For too long, successive state and local governments have refused to take a stand and, even 'though admitting schemes such as 'bio-cert' are flawed and largely accepted as being economic blackmail, have refused to take any action. WELL, NOT ERA!

We have taken a stand against 'bio-cert' to highlight to the state government and our local community that we have faith that the review, which they have assured us is genuine. It will highlight huge flaws and potential economic disaster, not only for our shire but the entire state, if the present process is to continue unchecked. 'Bio-cert' will no doubt become a bigger issue than the disastrous LEP E3 debacle if it isn't halted, especially for rural NSW. Anyone owning land with native vegetation should have alarm bells ringing very loudly in their ears when it comes to seeking to do any potential development.
South Moruya --- you are next!

ERA urges new ministers Prue Goward and Rob Stokes to act swiftly and decisively. ERA believes that due to the unique circumstances surrounding the offset lands that are proposed in this particular case, the Minister may be able to use her executive powers to permit this development, which is well supported locally, to proceed without the burden of 'bio-cert'.
What of concerns surrounding offset lands?

The proposed offset lands are PUBLIC and are already protected by a conservation order. They are under no threat of development. Developers are being forced to contribute huge sums of money into a bio - banking scheme that is fraught with inherent economic shortcomings which will potentially lead to collapse. If the bio-banking scheme fails, as predicted, then will the good 'ol Eurobodalla ratepayer will be left to foot the bill?

Sound complicated? Well it is.

ERA has taken a principled stand. We do not intend to prolong the delay and fully support the proposed development at Broulee, but NOT with the burden of bio - certification.

We appreciate the support of our local member and Treasurer, Andrew Constance and agree with him that the current proposal is untenable. We have no doubt his government is striving with us to reduce green tape which is strangling this state. It would be great to do this within in a united manner but we fear that we are on our own within the halls of Eurobodalla Council.
We want 'bio - cert' scrapped.

enquiries; liz Innes 0418 193518

 

PRESS RELEASE Monday, 26 May 2014

ERA councillors call for removal of E3 zoning from Standard Instrument Local Environment Plan

Eurobodalla Ratepayer Action party councillors on Eurobodalla Shire council call on the NSW Minister for Planning and Environment, Prue Goward, to remove the E3 zone from the NSW Government’s Standard Instrument Local Environment Plan (SILEP). This controversial zone, which was introduced by the Labor government in 2006, duplicates a range of other legislative requirements, providing no increased level of environmental protection on private land.

Spokesperson, Councillor Liz Innes, said: “The Minister is soon to consider a revision of the SILEP following a study of the use of environmental zones by northern NSW councils in the development of their rural local environment plans. This is a major opportunity for the Baird Government to show leadership and act on the overwhelming weight of the submissions they have received from the rural communities of NSW.”

“This comprehensive study, undertaken by consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff, demonstrates clearly the practical difficulties for councils in applying the four environmental (E1,E2, E3 and E4) zones which are inadequately specified in the SILP.”

“The study documents the same issues feared by many local farmers as the consequences of the application of the E3 zone to private agricultural land in Eurobodalla shire. It is apparent that past proposals in Eurobodalla made much greater use of E3 zoning than were made by those councils included in the study. We are delighted that the study’s findings vindicate the concerted action taken by the Eurobodalla farming community to stop the over regulation of the use of private land.”

Councillor Innes concluded, “Eurobodalla land owners have made their opposition to the use of E3 based on inaccurate mapping very clear to the council’s rural land strategy committee. E3 zoning is unnecessary and it simply reduces the value of their properties and rural businesses. Land owners need now to repeat their past objections to the government”.

“In these circumstances the new Minister must remove E3 from the SILEP.”

Media contact: Councillor Liz Innes

 

PRESS RELEASE Wed, Mar 19, 2014

COUNCILLOR LESLIGHT RESPONDS

Dear Editor Bay Post,

You have taken me to task for withdrawing my three sea level rise motions to amend council’s interim sea level rise policy at last Tuesday’s council meeting and proposing the alternative of an informed discussion with the community at a public workshop. (Editorial, Bay Post, 14 March).

I did so, not to play political games, but because I was persuaded by my colleagues that the motions were premature. They believed that, if the interim policy is to be changed, greater community understanding of the sea level rise issue and council’s policy is required. Also, they were concerned that the ERA’s opponents would move to keep faults in the design of the policy and the economic and social implications of these faults away from community view.

A public workshop, with invited technical experts, is one way to engage the community.

The interim SLR policy, which is based on very high future sea level rise estimates imposed on councils by the last NSW labor government, is costing ratepayers much more than is necessary. These extra costs arise because the last council chose to impose restrictions on a wider area than was done by other coastal councils operating under the same directive. And no assessment of the impact of this wide application was done at that time.

Additionally, council’s inflexible administration of the policy by, for example, not allowing consultants reports to be used for similar adjacent land, adds to costs.

Furthermore, council’s practice of not notifying land owners of the changes to the hazard warning notifications required by law is insensitive and unjust.

Because we are years away from a final policy these faults in the interim policy need to be fixed now. Otherwise, uncertainty will continue to be reflected in higher development costs and affected property resale markets will remain in the doldrums.

In passing responsibility for SLR policy to councils, the NSW government has invited the use of local “evidence” based data and shorter time horizons for future projections. Andrew Constance, the member for Bega, last week urged council to take up this opportunity.

The longest and most reliable set of past land based sea level rise data available in NSW (measured at Fort Denison) was ignored by council staff last time around. We need to know why.

Let me assure you that there is “hope for the owners of properties identified at risk of sea level rise that the issue will be addressed with common sense. “ Consistent with the ERA objectives of better, more transparent governance and management at council, ERA councillors will actively pursue improvements to the interim SLR policy and their understanding and support in the community.

This task is made easier by the Bay Post’s interest in desirable change at council.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Milton Leslight

Eurobodalla Shire Council


MEDIA RELEASE - 15 November 2013

Amendment/lost motion re Batemans Bay Marina.

The Eurobodalla Council's meeting last Tuesday descended to a new low when a motion to establish a committee to explore the idea of a new deep water marina in Batemans Bay was effectively killed by being amended to require Clr Schwarz to arrange meetings with a range of state government departments first. (see below)

"It was yet another example of petty politics getting in the way of bringing economic development to the shire" Clr Schwarz said. " It would be fine if any of those who chose to vote down the motion had any suggestions themselves, but, to a person, they have never come up with one positive idea" he added.

"Regrettably, the Council "Old Guard" of the Mayor Lindsay Brown and his failed predecessor Clr Fergus Thomson, with the support of Clrs Harding and Brice continue to frustrate and hamstring any vision at all and, disappointingly, can't see that we have huge economic and structural problems in the shire which require our active attention", Deputy Mayor Neil Burnside said, in support of Clr Schwarz.

"The old way of operating in the shire was for councillors to take on the persona of a staff member acting as a rubber stamp for staff suggestions, which suited the capacity of many of them," Clr Burnside said. "But the lack of prosperity in our community calls for a much more involved council -- something that's being actively resisted at every turn by the reactionary attitude of the "old guard" and some others", Clr Schwarz said.

see the motion and amendment below.


NOM13/001 BATEMANS BAY DEEP WATER MARINA
File Ref: E13.7041; E86.3612
MOTION Councillor Schwarz/Councillor Burnside
THAT Council call for expressions of interest from community members and industry representatives interested in forming a committee aimed at investigating and advancing the idea of a deep water marina in Batemans Bay.

13/205 AMENDMENT Councillor Thomson/Councillor Harding
THAT prior to calling for expressions of interest from community members and industry representatives interested in forming a committee aimed at investigating and advancing the idea of a deep water marina in Batemans Bay, Councillor Schwarz convene a meeting with relevant and appropriate departments to ascertain what obstacles or opportunities may exist in moving forward with this proposal.

(The Amendment on being put was declared CARRIED.
The Amendment then became the Motion and on being put was declared CARRIED.)

 

Press Release -16 July 2012

EUROBODALLA RATEPAYERS DISAPPOINTED WITH MINISTER'S APPROVAL OF "SWISS CHEESE" LOCAL ENVIRONMENT PLAN

The Minister for Planning, Brad Hazzard, has approved the controversial and incomplete Eurobodalla Local Environment Plan 2011. This plan, which introduces inaccurate environmental overlays, excludes areas of rural land wrongly assigned an E3 zoning by Eurobodalla Shire Council staff.

Gary Smith, deputy chair of Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association (ERA), commented:

"It is disappointing that the Minister did not listen to the people of Eurobodalla Shire and direct the council to finish the LEP. Many rural land owners will now have a patchwork of both old and new zonings on their land and will have to live with the practical difficulties and uncertainty this creates."

"The shire's rural zoning plan is now like Swiss cheese - full of holes and on the nose!"

"The development of the LEP has been plagued by delay, poor management, inadequate direction by the mayor and councillors and a failure to listen to the people. The E3 zoning and overlay problems, which first emerged in 2009, should have been fixed by now. Andrew Constance, the Member for Bega, has been tireless in speaking up for the community by pursuing council on this particularly poor piece of governance."

"In the circumstances it is vitally important that the new Rural Land Strategy Steering Committee, to be chaired by Ian Armstrong, considers, as its first priority, E3 zoning and the misuse of poor quality environmental overlays. The ERA would like to see Mr Armstrong's report on these matters with the Minister by November."

Mr Smith concluded: "Failure to deliver an integrated LEP acceptable to the community after ten year' work is this council's legacy. Let's hope that the councillors elected in September have the competence and commitment to finish the plan in line with the community's wishes."

ENDS

Media inquiries: Greg Malavey

Read The Ministers press Release here

 

PRESS RELEASE - June 20th, 2012

EUROBODALLA RATEPAYERS DISAPPOINTED IN PAUL ANDERSON’S REAPPOINTMENT

 

Eurobodalla's under-performing Council has just committed about $2.5million of ratepayers funds with a new employment contract for its general manager, Mr Paul Anderson, for a further 5 years. While the decision has expensive and long term consequences for all of the shire it was taken in secret.

The terms of Mr Anderson’s new contract have not been disclosed. Information about which Councillors supported this travesty is hidden.

"Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association is extremely disappointed by the way Mr Anderson’s reappointment was handled” commented Geoff Plews, Chair, Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association. "Councillors failed to determine whether more capable candidates were available and the decision is very inappropriately timed, with Council elections in September. This short-sighted decision unnecessarily burdens ratepayers with heavy compensation liabilities if future Councillors require a general manager who can deliver the level of performance Eurobodalla desperately needs."

“This general manager's performance over the past four years has been unsatisfactory in too many areas. Staff surveys and consultants reports reveal council's 480 staff are poorly managed. And an independent survey conducted by council shows that council’s relations with the community are extremely poor. Uproar over mismanagement of the local environment plan is just one of many examples."

“Mr Anderson has had little impact on the introspective and secretive culture of the organization. Nor has he put council in a strong financial position to face future challenges. The new 10 year financial plan shows a long string of future operating deficits, ever increasing rates and charges, and no clear strategy to return council’s budget to balance."

“Yet again Eurobodalla Shire has failed to convince Commonwealth and State authorities that this Council would use a proper share of infrastructure funding as efficiently as competing councils. Private sector investors are bypassing the shire, local businesses are failing rapidly, property values are declining and many residents must search for employment outside the shire.”

"The surprise announcement attempts to justify council's decision with vague references to the general manager's commitment, some matters he has overseen and assorted activities. Dubious credit is claimed for a continuous improvement program. Not one tangible achievement is listed after four years at the helm of the shire."

“Eurobodalla ratepayers will benefit only when councillors are able to recognise the difference between activity and achievement, with real, measurable, on the ground improvements in roads, health services and appropriate environment protection”, concluded Mr Plews.

 

EUROBODALLA RATEPAYERS ASSOCIATION

20 June 2012

Media inquiries: Greg Malavey: 0428 428 869 Geoff Plews: 0409 662 869


Media release - 14 January 2011

ERA meet to ratify Constitution

A committee meeting of the ERA will be held on the 24th January as previously announced to adopt a model of association commonly used by small voluntary groups and similar to the Canberra ratepayers association.

The finalization of incorporation brings no change to the aims or operation of the ERA which have been heavily supported by the community at large.

At the conclusion of a short formal meeting members of the Committee will be available for a “meet and greet”.


Contact
Greg Malavey

 

Media release - 14 January 2011

MORE ON THE STAFF SURVEY BY INSYNC


In November/December 2009 a survey of all the staff of Eurobodalla Shire Council (ESC) was conducted by a company called Insync. The results of that survey have remained a deep mystery; a $30,000 mystery. In fact the General Manager Paul Anderson has refused point blank to release the results.

The GM first refused at a Council Meeting just after the results were finalised. He replied an emphatic “No” to a question from Councillor Scobie as to whether the results would be made public.

Since that time many rumours have circulated regarding the terrible results of the survey and the GM’s behaviour has only fuelled speculation that the results are an indictment of his leadership.

ERA first sought the documents from Council under the then new freedom of information act, GIPA, in July 2010. We were summarily dismissed. ERA then applied to the new Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC). The GM Paul Anderson then proceeded to use every device and argument at his disposal to prevent the OIC from releasing the documents. The OIC rejected the GM and made an order that the majority of the documents be released in May 2011. Yet again the GM refused to release the documents in spite of having his arguments to the contrary dismissed by the OIC. At cost to the ratepayers of Eurobodalla he has launched an appeal to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT).

What is the GM hiding from the ratepayers of Eurobodalla? Where is the transparency in the dealings of our Shire Management? Who pays for this anyway?

Submitted on behalf of ERA Inc by Ron Gifford (Public Officer)

 

Media release, July 6, 2010

PRESS RELEASE - EUROBODALLA RATEPAYERS ASSOCIATION ON MINISTER’S REFUSAL TO GRANT SPECIAL RATE INCREASE


At a meeting today, the Convenor of the Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association, Mr. Frank Milner, said:

“It is a pity that we have to oppose the Council and General Manager in so many areas – after all, we should be working together and sharing the same goals in the interests of the community. But until Council stops spending on projects and services outside of essential community needs, we are probably going to remain in opposition.

“We don’t feel any sense of triumph in the outcome of the Minister’s decision - but we certainly feel that our stance has been supported by the Minister and the community and is thoroughly justified.

“The main issue we have is that the General Manager doesn’t seem to grasp the basics of business management. All along, he has pursued small-minded objectives of multiple small cuts to services important to the community, such as pools, playing fields, libraries, aged/youth services, life saving and so on.

“His business philosophy does not appear to recognize the possibility of spending cuts by looking inwards at his ever-expanding organization. The rate rise submission was for an additional 4.9% to raise $1 million. It was refused by the Minister, so what does the General Manager do this week ? He advertises six jobs, including another Corporate Manager, all of which would conservatively cost $350,000.

“He doesn’t know how to stop spending.”

Asked what the Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association proposes to do next, Mr. Milner outlined the following:

“We will follow a two-fold strategy. Firstly, the Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association will patiently and persistently continue to gather information and put a case to the Minister for an external review of all aspects of Council’s operations by an independent agency.

“Secondly, and in recognition of the Mayor and Councillors’ failure to represent the voice and interests of the community, the ERA will be searching out well qualified and experienced candidates to support their stand at the next elections in 2012. In addition, we are gathering a pool of skilled, qualified and experienced people who can be called upon to provide specialist advice to Councillors in the interest of better policy and decision-making – typically in areas of finance, all facets of engineering, agricultural and environmental sciences.

“By following these objectives, we hope the community will benefit in the long run from more efficient use of rates and resources.

 

:

 

Media release, April 28, 2010
New group to speak for ratepayers

 

Work with us towards a better local government in our beautiful shire!