Budget 2019 to be work shopped

Budget 2019 to be work shopped as that time of year in the life of Local Government approaches.

Rate CappingA new Council, a new year, a new budget. That is Unley in 2019 as we prepare for a budget that will set the scene for the immediate future. The result will be budget 2019.

Your new Council will deliberate on and workshop a number of initiatives in the coming weeks before settling on a short list. A short list we will then seek your thoughts on.

The challenge (as always) will be to provide for our community what we believe they need at a cost they can afford.

At our last Council meeting we resolved that we seek to limit the rate rise for budget 2019 to within 1% of CPI. While the last Council achieved this during their term it remains a challenge for the new Council.

There is much we will be seeking to absorb into this Budget 2019 target.

New Goodwood Oval Clubroom

New Goodwood Oval Clubroom

DesignKingWilliamAll in our community would be aware of our commitments to the Goodwood Oval Clubroom upgrade, to the redevelopment of King William Road and to Brownhill Creek. Not to mention the next stage of the Unley Oval redevelopment. All big ticket items, with a possibility I suggest of Goodwood Oval maybe going over budget.

How about advancing planning for the replacement of the Millswood Croquet Club. This is an initiative that Jennie and I are promoting as an elected member initiative.

We should see a project for improvements around the Village green precinct come into consideration too.

What about the multitude of environmental initiatives we strive for in Unley. This includes continuing and even increasing projects like the verge greening I have championed in the past. Water sensitive projects and what about the conversion of our street lighting to LED.

It includes also the same for our 2nd generation tree program. A responsible approach to removing trees that may be causing a nuisance to some in our community while increasing the canopy cover long term.

We will also be looking at the what recommendations will come out of the recent Clarence Park LATM.  East Avenue, like we have already identified with Leah Street might require some structural repairs in the very near future. We will also consider beautifying Leah Street given the need for extensive repairs.

And much more I suspect.

Please wish us well as we juggle all this into budget 2019.

 

 

Aggrieved Residents Around Goodwood receive Double Dose of Aggravation

To the chagrin of aggrieved residents the Goodwood Saints Football Club this week successfully applied to have an extension of light use at Goodwood Oval for training and for night matches.

Their application was heard and unanimously approved by the Council Assessment Panel (CAP).

Goodwood Oval LightsThe CAP is a body constituted under the Development Act. It has 4 independent members and 1 elected member. It hears and makes planning decisions on behalf of Council. Council’s elected body has no involvement in this process and is not able to impact on their decisions.

Residents and others, as required under the Act, made representations to the panel. 150 of them. 77 in favour and 73 against. 9 Aggrieved Residents backed up their written representations verbally on the night.

I am proud of my neighbours. They presented well and focused on planning issues. This is important as the Panel Members must make their decisions based on Planning principles.

I am proud too of the Panel Members. Their individual explanations indicated their interpretation of planning formed their respective opinions. This even though their opinion differed from the Residents.

With the decision favouring the Club, aggrieved residents may consider lodging an appeal. The ERD Court would hear any such appeal. Anyone considering appealing have 14 days to consider this.

I say aggrieved because they (the residents) feel the club is, by way of bracket creep, eating into their use of the facility and intrusion into their amenity.

These aggrieved residents unfortunately are now catching a double dose of aggravation with a section of the media choosing to pass judgement without knowing the facts.

Two Radio stations that I am aware of have covered this storey. Unfortunately however, news is littered with half-truths, myths and prejudices. Accordingly this compounds the agony for these residents.

One station chose to run an anti-resident campaign holding themselves up as knowing the facts. The other radio station researched the storey and the facts and covered it accordingly.

The first radio station focused on the right of girls to be able to play at the same venue as their brothers. It is quite appropriate to argue that case and I support that.

Their lack of research meant they failed however to even attempt to understand what the residents’ concerns were. Accordingly they ignored concerns that included extending the grief they already experience with illegal parking and not being able to access their driveways. The Oval being restricted to 2 nights a week was conveniently ignored.  And other like issues and I do not support that.

What they did was to ignore these very important issues. I guess this may be because they did not bother to research it.

They focused on the observation of just one resident. One of 73.

The Radio Station simply argued that lights will be turned off before bed time, or covered with a blind. So what’s the problem was their focus. Never mind noise and anti-social behaviour etc even though the Club acknowledges this.

They failed to check that the Oval is already being overused, even though the Club acknowledges this.

Any extension of the use by the club not only eats into the time they (the residents) might have access, but potentially makes the Oval unfit for the remaining access time they may have.

The other station understood this and reported accurately and without opinion.

For all that, Council has a responsibility.

The issues raised in this blog are issues that Council will have to manage, along with the Club and the residents.

We will. We already are. Let’s face it, it is our responsibility. The Club has confirmed publically that it has a responsibility too. Accordingly we should be able to work with them to address the concerns of their neighbours.

Watch for future blogs to see what we are doing.

City of Unley 2018/19 Budget ready for Public Input.

The City of Unley tomorrow night will consider and endorse the draft of the 2018/19 Budget for public input. You will then have an opportunity to review the presented projects and their impact on funding requirements.

It will be your chance to influence 2108/19 budget, the rates you will be paying, and what services you will receive for this. It is indeed your chance to show the new State Government that you would prefer to influence our budget rather than allow another tier of Government (with no empathy for your neighbourhood) do it for you.

Council is considering a rate increase of 2.5% resulting in new borrowings in the order of $5.277 m to deliver all proposed projects and maintain current service levels. Not yet included is any allowance for increased waste disposal costs on the 2018/19 Budget.

Not included is any impact resulting from China’s ban on foreign waste to determine how this will affect our recyclables contract. We are currently investigating the impact. I am not sure whether we will have enough information to include it tomorrow night. Once done though it will quantify any possible cost increases for the disposal of recyclables (yellow bin) so as to incorporate it in our final draft.

Community consultation on our 2018/19 Budget

Community consultation will occur between 26 April and 25 May 2018. It will include six (6) public meetings/community information sessions as shown below. Council will also receive submissions by visiting Council’s website (through Your Say Unley) or written submissions to PO Box 1, Unley 5061.

We will accept all submissions up until the close of business on 25 May 2018.

Location                                                      Date                                 Time

Goodwood Library                                        10 May                            10.30am – 11.30am

Clarence Park Community Centre            10 May                             6.30pm – 7.30pm

(How convenient for ratepayers residing in my Ward)

Unley Civic Centre                                        14 May                             6.30pm – 7.30pm

Living Choice Fisher Street                        17 May                             10.30am – 11.30am

Living Choice Fisher Street                        17 May                              6.00pm – 7.00pm

Unley Community Centre                         21 May                              10.00am- 11.00am

The Annual Community Plan which underpins the 2018/19 budget will be found on the Council website after the meeting. Highlights can be found in my separate blog which I expect to post on Tuesday.

Welcome to Our World.

Following on from my last blog post, there are two observations I believe warrant making in this platform. The first is welcome to our world and please stay with us.

I will deal with the latter in a later blog post.

With some of the observations that our ratepayers have made on this years draft budget I say welcome to our world. You are experiencing what we (the councillors) experience each year.

Elected members historically focus only on new initiatives in our budget deliberations. New initiatives in the operating projects amount this year to $ 1.2 m. This is very small compared to our general rates income of some $ 38 m.

Ongoing operating programs are reviewed regularly by elected members during what is known as regular service reviews. They are therefore not addressed at budget time . This includes a number of initiatives in our environment strategy.

Things like maintaining our parks and gardens. That includes the Village Green. So while we have been criticised by some for not allowing maintenance of the Village green in our budget we have. It just is not highlighted. Showing the maintenance of every one of our parks and gardens woudl make for a very complex budget and therefore not shown.

Then there are new initiatives such as the Brownhill Creek flood mitigation project, funded through capital works and loan funding. The biggest single environmental project I suggest we have ever done.

Talking roads, rates and rubbish which some have asked us to focus on. We have been asked to spend more in this area. After a service review we will actually be spending some $ 1.0 m pa more on reactive footpath repair. Requests to resurface Kenilworth Road. It is in the budget.

Yes. Welcome to our world.

We elected members focus on just 1/40th of the overall budget. You get to comment on that too.

This is not easy for sure but please stay with us. If you do you will become more intimate with the budget and it’s real depth.

Unley decides and protects the creek owners

Last Tuesday night Unley made a decision on Brownhill Creek. A decision in line with the other 4 councils but a decision that protects the creek owners.

 

Minutes-Special-Council-29-September-2015_ext=Whilst we were the last to make a decision and we took two dedicated meetings to do it we have continued with the decision made to provide leadership on the complexity that is Brownhill Creek. Way back when we backed exploring the culvert option to ease the pain of the property owners adjacent Brownhill Creek Conservation Park. We were the council promoting water harvesting back in 2012. We are the council now who is watching out for the interests of the creek owners.

In making the decision we have, and I understand that Minister Hunter is grateful for the decision we have made, we have ensured that the SMA will not take the project away from Local Government which means that the interests of our rate payers will not be lost. In making the decision we have the interests of those most affected by the project, the creek owners of Unley and or Mitcham will be looked after.

Had we not made the decision we made the SMA would have had the opportunity to take over the project on the basis that Local Government had demonstrated an inability to govern such a project. With respect to the SMA they are a State Government body and the State Government has a reputation of running rough shod over residents with such projects. This is evidenced by the recent grade separation of the Seaford and Belair train lines.

The decision can be found on the City of Unley website here. Click on “Special Council Minutes 29 September 2015.  Read item 3 of the motion moved by Cr Lapidge and seconded by me (it’s the last one) to better understand what we have done that sets us apart form the other councils.

 

 

Stalemate on Brownhill Creek at Unley

After a marathon session at the Unley Civic Centre Centre last night the news is we have a stalemate on Brownhill Creek. That’s at Unley that is.

 

Last nights Council meeting in front of a packed gallery too small to accommodate the interested public was reminiscent of the 1966 SANFL Grand Final Adelaide Oval. With the crowd spilling out into the bleeches that is. Certainly not in result however.

On that day the locals (Sturt) defeated Port 16.16 to 8.8, an emphatic defeat. Last night it was a stalemate, no result; a bit like that nasty feeling experienced when there is a draw in the great Aussie game of footy.

stalemate-300x153

 

My recent blog posts have highlighted where I sit in the equation, wanting more information to make a more qualified decision. I have not been happy with Option D and have proclaimed that loudly. I have also highlighted that I am equally not happy with Option B2.

As we sat to deliberate last night nothing had changed for me. There was  no further information to allow me to decide. So I went to the meeting (with apologies to everyone for my incessant coughing on the night as I recover from the Flu) expecting to vote no to either option.

Curiously this reflects the finally tuned balance in the Unley Council with both options being voted down 6 to 5.

What I did do on the night was follow the lead of Cr Anthony Lapidge who moved an amendment to the motion supporting Option D. Cr Lapidge had recognised that it does not matter what Unley Council says or does on this issue, Option D WILL be the option adopted going forward. He has correctly identified that if we don’t have a motion acceptable to the State Government and the SMA not only will Option D proceed but potentially we wont be part of the solution going forward. And our residents may get lost in the system.

His amendment addressed what I see as the major concerns of the landowners fearful of Option D and what it might mean to their property. I saw this as maybe the best opportunity Unley Council may have had to help these people get the best deal out of the inevitability that is Option D.

Appears it is now set up for a Grand Final replay, unless the SMA simply says to Unley…..had your chance…..on your bike.

 

Decisions are Pending on Brownhill Creek

Yes the decisions are pending on Brownhill Creek with West Torrens supporting Option D, Burnside Council delaying a decision on Brownhill Creek on Tuesday night, Unley next Monday night and the other two councils later this month. So over the next 3 weeks we will know where the Councils all stand.

 

For my part and as demonstrated in my series of blog posts on the subject I come into this months marathon of meetings not happy with with the information we have to make a qualified decision. Readers of this blog page would realise this.

 

Brownhill Creek Bridge

 

Whether we are talking option D or option B2 we don’t in my opinion have the information we need to make not only a qualified decision but an ergonomically and financially responsible. A decision that IS THE best solution not driven by ideology.

 

I have canvassed a number of issues in the last week or two on this platform. In this blog post I aim to bring them to a head and acknowledge a couple of other equally importation issues.

 

I have canvassed concerns over focusing on:

1    A lack of detailed design associated with Option D to allow for a better understanding of the impact of the work on creek owners properties and to provide a more detailed costing of this option

2    A lack of logic with both options pursuing a quick discharge of stormwater through the system rather than the community wide local government understanding that retention and allowing a slow feed over time.

3    Dispelling myths from all groups that have been promoting a self interest cause, including the Project.

4    Enlightening the uninformed on what a dam might look it.

5    Questioning why we cant incorporate a stormwater harvesting component to the solution.

 

So as decisions are pending on Brownhill Creek my head is in addressing the need for more detail for better clarity and costing and addressing the the sensible approach of stormwater harvesting. The motion on the table does not provide this and I am not convinced the B2 option does either.

 

If Option D falls over as I suspect it will on Monday night, and Jennies advertised B2 motion also struggles I am drafting a motion that allows more work to be done on both options to allow a more qualified decision.

 

 

Why not a Brownhill Creek stormwater harvesting opportunity.

As we close in on our decision on the way to go I ask Why not a Brownhill Creek stormwater harvesting opportunity?

 

Ridge ParkI refer to our resolution of August 2012 calling for “other methods not currently in use (to) diminish local flooding” to be explored. I am disappointed that no more stormwater harvesting opportunities have been identified than previously reported in the 2012 stormwater management plan. I say this particularly in relation to the potential offered by collecting stormwater for reuse in a flood control dam in Ellisons Gully, recognising that the economic benefits during drought of such an opportunity could make Option B2 more attractive.

Back in 2012 the City Unley called on the project to explore more stormwater harvesting opportunities. This was no idle request. We had taken the lead with the detention dam we recently completed up at Ridge Park in Myrtle Bank. This is a project that incorporated an aquifer recharge.

The Project was well aware of this project, having provided the design work for it. It is a project that achieve water harvesting outcomes on Glen Osmond Creek, noting the increase from 20 ML per annum to 60 ML per annum found for both flood control and water harvesting. This is contributing to the watering of Unley’s parks and gardens, saving our rate payers the cost of paying for water from other sources.

We have been told access into that aquifer is not possible in Ellisons Gully but my memory is we were told the same thing about Ridge Park. We pursued investigating this and found not only was it possible but we did it.

So Option D may yet have stormwater harvesting opportunities. The same can be said I suggest for Option B2.

So why not a Brownhill Creek stormwater harvesting opportunity? Why not explore if there is an ecologically and financially responsible solution.

 

 

Brownhill Creek Am I any closer to a decision

Sooner or later it comes down to this. Brownhill Creek Am I any closer to a decision?

 

Pragmatists-IdealistsAm I any closer?

I have tried to decipher for my own benefit what the factors re that go to making the correct decision. This has not been easy having said that.

 

 

An interesting challenge for someone who sees himself not as a politician but more of a pragmatist. I have to make a decision and I am trying hard to get the balanced view.

A politician I am I recognise however. And I recognise the politics of the situation I find myself in.

The “No Dam” case which gained momentum in 2102 put their political case well and captured the hearts of the state. Back then and isolated the City of Mitcham, alone amongst the 5 councils, fought hard to promote a no dam case.

Unley, too (amongst the councils) were the pragmatists, worked to ensure all possible options were explored.

As other options were explored including options that never in my mind had any credence including the high flow culverts an option emerged only as a result of revised hydrology being provided courtesy of the BOM.

Throughout this process however I have learnt how politics plays such a factor in public decision making. I have continuously been lobbied. By special interest groups, by my fellow councillors, by City of Mitcham Councillors. I have the same people plus City of West Torrens councillors, and of course the press query what my position is.

You know what. As we speak I still have one or two unanswered questions and/or concerns that remain unresolved. So whichever way you think I might be leaning (and I am leaning one way) I have yet to make my final decision. I expect that I will swing one way or the other as the deputations we are likely to receive on the night and the debate around the table occur.

For those who think they can still lobby me I want to remain a pragmatist and any argument provided by a self interest group I will treat as opinion only. Please don’t you may lose me.

 

 

Never mind Options B1, B2, D what about do nothing?

Never mind Option B1, B2, D is there another solution as yet not investigated.

 

Many readers of this series of blogs may well have thought my vote is likely to be for either Option B1 of option B2 and not option D. But I canvas now the question raised briefly in my post on the 30th August.

Let us start by asking should solutions not investigated by the Project be considered. Yes I say and why not.

When I look at the flooding potential of the creek and I look at what the Project now believe will be the 1 in 100 year flood I question whether the extreme expenditure identified can be truly justified. As I reported in a recent post the 2012 proposal included a cost comparison of between being proactive and being reactive.

dollar-sign-on-treadmillWe have costs suggested to us for a number of proactive options. Much debate has ensued over the difference in the costs proposed for either options B1 & 2 or Option D. Unlike previously curiously we have no costs proposed for the repairs that would be required given the current hydrology we are working on now in the event we do nothing.

 

Not knowing this cost means my next observations are guesses. Sorry about that but the theory needs to be examined whether we have costs available to back them up or to refute them.

Why should 5 councils commit their ratepayers to an expense they don’t need to commit to is a question that I would have thought should be part of any investigation into the feasibility of a project of this type. It was good enough 5 years ago when there was no great difference between being proactive and being reactive.

It should be good enough to do the same thing now.

This has not been forthcoming inspite of my requesting it.

Indeed on reading the hydrology that we have received I fully question whether or not we simply clean out the creek and be done with it. The do nothing option if you can call if that.

Having said that I wonder if we should actually be looking at higher values given the predictions that we will have less frequent but more intense rainfall.