Increasing Rates Diminishing Services

Increasing rates diminishing services is the catch cry of a today tonight storey on Channel 7 tonight.

3robrogers_potholeslalom_robrogersA damming story aired tonight on the popular Channel 7 program about Council rates rising but services provided reducing. Two councils, Salisbury and Charles Sturt, were the focus of the story. Interestingly these are two of the State’s largest municipalities.

Thankfully the City of Unley did not feature. Unley is one of the smaller.

Two primary concerns were highlighted by the program. The first was maintenance of verges. Fixing pot holes in roads was the second.

One resident in Salisbury expects that verges should be cut by Council. The street shown on TV was one where there is a fence on the property boundary. This conflicts with those suburbs where there is no fence and where everyone appreciates the verge is the responsibility of the home owner. Here in Unley we have been giving residents the option of a green verge on the condition it is looked after by them. The alternative is for a dolomite verge.

Road potholes in Unley I don’t believe is a problem. If anything I believe we may have been over-serving in road replacement.

Removing trip hazards in footpath has been my bane. We have in my opinion too many trip hazards in our “brick” paved footpaths. That is a story for another day as we review what footpath service level we are prepared to accept. This is a debate we are currently having and I expect to report further on this sooner rather than later.

I ask you, what is the answer where or when Councils are under performing?

What do you expect from council when it comes to mowing verges, repairing pot holes in roads or eradicating footpath trip hazards? Do you agree with the topic of this article………increasing rates diminishing returns? What about my opinion on Unley. Is it accurate or do you believe Unley is as guilty as the two mentioned in the program?

Walking the streets of Unley I am forever reporting what I see. I often wonder how long the issue I have found, a trip hazard or whatever, has been there. I also wonder if the people who live in the adjacent house or work at the adjacent shop or office have reported it or whether they think Council should simply be ware without being alerted by them.

Help us to be better than those being complained about. Reporting what concerns you to us rather than to a TV station or the RAA would help.

You can do this by ringing 83725111, be emailing us at [email protected] Another way is to report it via our website at https://online.unley.sa.gov.au/ePathway/Production/Web/Default.aspx?js=-1154500411

Better yet how about downloading the My Local Services Web App for your smart phone.

Help us to help you and stay in front of such bad press.

 

Community Survey gives Unley the thumbs up.

Following on from my observations in my recent blog post on Council Rates verses Council Services I am pleased to see how well our residents and businesses view the value they are receiving for the services we provide them. The results of a recent Community Survey tabled at last night’s Council meeting gives Unley the thumbs up.

 

Based on the data and information provided, a number of conclusions can be drawn:

• Overall residents, businesses and the general community are very positive about both performance and the service offering provided by Council. The majority of those surveyed are content to continue on as is, maintaining the existing rates to service ratio.

• The areas receiving optimal ratings for satisfaction and importance by residents included library services, waste management and green spaces (parks, gardens and reserves). Businesses noted waste management, street lighting, street sweeping and events and activities as areas of strength provided by the Council.

• Key areas identified by both residents and businesses for improvement included urban planning and design, footpath sweeping, traffic management and car parking, community engagement, development and planning. It should be noted that feedback varied across these areas. For example, some respondents thought Council should do more in the area of traffic management, while others thought they should do less. Similarly most of the feedback relating to urban planning was in relation to the State Government’s direction on higher density corridors and the need to protect older building from development.

• Overall, there is a strong sense of value for money indicated by both the residents and businesses community.

The feedback provided as part of this survey will be used to inform future service provision, program development and delivery, asset and facility plans and initiatives, identify priority projects and opportunities for improvement, and adjust service standards and levels to ensure that Council is both responsive to community need and is operating in a way that provides both financial sustainability and value for money.

To Review or not to Review Council Services

In light of the controversy over the service review of our libraries; and the public perception that this is designed to facilitate the closure of the Goodwood library I find it pertinent that I explain what I understand why we should continually review council services.

 

Councils exist only as a result of and under the auspices of State Government legislation. The specific legislation governing local government (councils) is the Local Government Act 1999. This legislation governs not only the composition of a council and define the roles of the members, it sets out the whole platform on which they can operate. That brings us to the heart of this blog post.

We could take the attitude that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. That is what many of us do privately and indeed in our businesses. Is that appropriate where public money is being spent. I believe you would agree that it is not.

That is why legislation requires us to review council services.

Under 59 (1) (iii) a member of Council (the Mayor, myself and the 11 other elected members) has a responsibility on your behalf to

to keep the council’s resource allocation, expenditure and activities, and the efficiency and effectiveness of its service delivery, under review;

The only practical way we can effectively do this is to conduct regular reviews of our services. We have so many services we provide the chances are we will always be reviewing one or more services.

For a review to have credibility and warrant having been carried out, it should be far reaching. It should examine how the service is performing, both where it is working well and where evidence would suggest not working as well as it could.

Back to the statement that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Many would suggest think this way as I remember my father in law telling me. When I helped in his air conditioning business constructing metal ducts he said that we have been doing it this way for ages and there is no need to change. It was only months later that metal ducts were replaced with tubes and I was no longer needed.

As I see it we should when reviewing ask ourselves questions such as these, noting that we now have knowledge we did not have when the service was set up or last reviewed.

Knowing what we now know would we have

1   Started this service in the first place

2   Started it in a different form

3   Provided an alternative service

It is entirely appropriate therefore to include terminating a service when considering options.

Does that mean we want to terminate a service? Unequivocally not!

Does it mean we might? Maybe! But only after we have seen all the options and understand the consequences of such action. And only after we take it out to public consultation.

And on a final note, any such action will go out to public consultation when we have clearly understood and feasible options, not before the work is undertaken to examine the options.

 

July School Holiday Programs

There is just so much to do during the upcoming holidays if you are a resident of Unley.

 

Unley’s Libraries and Community Centres offer great workshops and programs over the July school holidays. A full list is available below, or you can:

  • download the Clarence Park Community Centre Program,
  • download the Fullarton Park Centre Workshop Program
  • download the Goodwood Community Centre Program or
  • visit the Unley Libraries School Holiday Program webpage.

Come and Try July School Holiday Program

Date
and Time
Activity Age Venue Cost Registrations
6/7/15
10am-12pm
Mini Playscape Workshop – Build a dinosaur or fairy garden! 4-6 years Clarence Park Community Centre Free 8293 8166
8/7/1510 -11am Zumba for kids 4-12 Goodwood Community Centre $5 per child 8272 7148
8/7/15 and 10/7/1510am – 12pm Theatre Games for Beginners 8 – 12 Goodwood Community Centre Free [email protected]
8/7/15
10am-12pm 
Wheelie Kids – car and wheel races 4-9 Clarence Park Community Centre $15 8293 8166
8/7/15
10am-12pm
Winter Warmers Cooking class 5-12 Fullarton Park Community Centre $10 8372 5180
8/7/15
10.30am- 12pm 
Handicraft for Tweens –  Make your own bookmark using embroidery stiches! 8-12 Unley Civic Library Free  register at
8372 5100 or online
8/7/15
5-7pm
Open Mic Night – bring your instrument and your talent! any Goodwood Community Centre Free 8272 7148
9/7/1510.30 –
11.30am

 

Science for Kids –
Experience some fun and weird science demonstrations!
3-7 Goodwood Library $5 Register at Unley Libraries. Queries phone 8372 5100
 
9/7/2015 Little Happiness Project 7-12 Goodwood Community Centre $10 8272 7148
9/7/1510am- 12pm

 

Pirates Paradise
Treasure hunts and more!
5-12 Fullarton Park Community Centre $10 8372 5180

 

Date
and Time
Activity Age Venue Cost Registrations
9/7/15 and 16/7/15
1-4.30pm
7 Questions of Storytelling and PlayWRITE Lab Workshops – Play Writing workshops  13-18 Goodwood Community Centre Free [email protected]
10/7/151-2.30pm or
3- 4.30pm
Intro to Music Technology Digital Composition and Editing 13-18 Goodwood Community Centre Free [email protected]
10/7/15
11am-12pm 
The Little Happiness Project
You’re only young once, so no point being stressed or frustrated!
7-12 Clarence Park Community Centre $15 8293 8166
10/7/15 10.30am- 12pm Literacy for Babies 0-2 Goodwood Community Centre Free, just come along 8372 5100
11/7/15 2.30pm Pinocchio interactive Pantomime all Clarence Park Community Centre $8 8293 8166
13/7/15
10-12pm 
Lego Club 5-12 Fullarton Park Community Centre $10 8372 5180
13 July
1-3pm
Dramarama- Learn basic drama skills 5-12 Fullarton Park Community Centre $10 8372 5180
13/7/15
2-3.30pm 
Art for Tweens and Teens – Book Cover Art Workshops. 8-12 Unley Civic Library $5 Register at Unley Libraries.
Queries phone
8372 5100.
13/7/15
6-9pm 
Terrarium Making for Beginners 16-25 Fullarton Park Community Centre $5 Register at[email protected]First ten registered get a free jar
14/7/15- 17/7/15
All Day
RMT Model and Talent Management 4 Day Course  10-16 Fullarton Community Centre $300 8394 2574
14/7/15
10am -12pm
Photography fun 5-12 Fullarton Community Centre $10 8372 5180

 

Date
and Time
Activity Age Venue Cost Registrations
14-17/7/15 Kids, Camera, ActionAnimation Workshop 10-13 Goodwood Community Centre See website for price kidscameraaction.com 
15/7/155-7pm Open Mic
Night –
bring your instrument
and your talent!
Any Goodwood Community Centre Free 8272 7148
15/7/15 Huge Indoor Playground2 session:

10am-12pm
or 1-3pm

0-6 Goodwood Community Centre $5 per child 8272 7148
15/7/15
2 -3pm 
Yogalates for Tweens –
Come and
try a special fusion of yoga and pilates!
8 – 12 Goodwood Library Free register at 8372 5100
or online
15/7/15 2pm  Drive On In Cinema – Paddington
the movie
Clarence Park Community Centre $8 per person inc popcorn and drink $5 to book a car. 8293 8166
15/7/15 1.30-3.30pm  Bonkers with Bubbles
Painting and creating with bubbles
5-12 Fullarton Park Community Centre $10 8372 5180
16/7/15 10am-
12pm 
Chocolate Making 5 – 12 Fullarton Park Community Centre $10 8372 5180
16/7/15 5.30-7.30pm Writing for Youth – Onesie/ Pyjama Party  12 – 25 Unley Civic Library (upstairs) Free, just come along! 8372 5100
16/7/15 6.30-7.30pm  Stories for
KidsNight time story time in the library. Families invited, wear pyjamas, onesies, and enjoy warm milk and cookies.
2-6 Unley Civic Library Free register at 8372 5100
or online
17/7/15 5pm – Midnight Tabletop Game and Pizza Night – Come with a team or join one on the night. 12+ Clarence Park Community Centre $10 8293 8166

Council Rates verses Council Services

Council rates verses council services is always the question at this time of year. As always the press has been beating up on us for what they call a cash grab.

 

We are an easy target at this time of year and the impression is we are making money out of our rate payers just for the sake of it.

What is not reported on however is what Councils are providing for the rates they collect in favour of we waste money on a range of services that are not needed. This year Unley has been targeted in the rantings of the press as  planning to increase its rates revenue by 59.1 per cent over the next decade.

On Monday night we deliberate on our business plan and the rate increase needed achieve it. We look like we are going to hold it down to 3.5% this year, down from the 4.10% we felt may have been necessary before putting the final touches to our budget. Not only therefore is the figure quoted by the press incorrect but the article also did not differentiate between rate increases and rates growth (through new development etc).

While rates are subject to fluctuation, the most accurate and current predictions for the next decade are:

• A rate increases of 44.2 per cent (providing additional revenue of $15.2m)
• Rate growth of 5.95 per cent (providing additional revenue of $2.1m)

The other side of this equation of council rates verses council services of course is what level of services should we provide. This year we surveyed our ratepayers on this very question and Council receives this report on Monday night.

Reading through the report I draw the conclusion that our community is very positive about both performance and the service offering provided by Council and overall, there is a strong sense of value for money indicated by both the residents and businesses community.

A far cry from what the press is attempting to have you believe.

A big thank you to those who participated.

Unley’s Shopping Bus – Door to Door Service

This service is provided for residents of the City of Unley who require assistance to visit a shopping centre. An accredited volunteer driver takes passengers to a shopping centre and then back home in a community bus.

WHEN

The shopping bus is available on Tuesday and Friday mornings.Passengers are picked up from their home from 9.15am.The return trip leaves the Shopping Centre Community Bus Zone at 12.30pm.

WHERE

The shopping bus visits the Unley and Mitcham Shopping Centres during one week, and then the Castle Plaza and Unley Shopping Centres the following week. Consult the Shopping Program for dates of travel.

SUPPORT

A volunteer accompanies the driver to help passengers with their shopping bags. Due to limited storage space only two shopping bags per passenger may be carried on the bus.This bus is equipped to carry passengers with a disability