Yesterday I was asked via voice mail by John Stokes of the Eastern Courier for my take as an elected member on the hike in fee increases approved by Council last week at our last Council meeting. I returned his call but had to leave a voice mail too.
When I arrived home I found his article that managed to be front page of this weeks Courier.
For John and for anyone else that is interested, here is my take on the Unley Councils Homer Help Hike.
A short while ago Council determined that they had trouble keeping up with requests for home assistance. So popular is our home assist service that we reached the point where we could not keep up with the demand.
What ever we collect by way of fees contribute out of our budget a massive $ 366,317 to home and community care (HACC). Catch this. This is more than Holdfast Bay, Prospect, Campbelltown and Burnside Council all put together.
So put in perspective Unley clearly is a leader in the pack. As good as those other councils programs may be Unley’s is a stand out. And don’t forget we are one of the smallest councils, so we are (as a I put it when we won the award earlier this year) punching well above our weight.
Perhaps that is why Unley became the first council in South Australia to be awarded by the United Nations World Health Organisation as an Age Friendly City.
Council actually consulted with those already using the program about the changes and we received no adverse reaction. These people have been well aware that the fees are not what they necessarily pay but are the base from which we calculate an individuals contribution. In other words the fee for service is discounted based on the individuals ability to pay.
In other words they (the users had no problem). As a result we are now able to allow others to use the service, on an ability to pay basis. And let us not forget that whatever fee is being charged it is well under what it is costing us directly, let alone the overhead costs associated with it that
For services that other Councils might duplicate it is my understanding that we are in the mid range of fees, and that where we charge more per hour than another council we have a cap on the total whereas the other councils don’t.
Having said that, if I was a betting man (I am not by the way), I would bet the group of elected members that is the current council would review the fees again if we felt that we were disadvantaging our residents.