And I know I am right is how Cr Michael Hudson from our Parkside Ward sums up a recent blog post on his Grumpy In Unley website on our current proposed rate rise.
Consistent to his views in the time I have been on council and I suspect way before I joined council he believes that Council is always exposing itself to too high a level of debt. As reported in this week’s Eastern Courier he made sensational claims at last weeks council budget meeting of us “cooking the books” in order to look good by keeping the current rate increase low.
Before going to bed he wrote a blog which you can read here. https://grumpyinunley.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/unleys-rates-rise-maze/.
Expecting a backlash from Council in that blog he indicated that he will use the defence of truth to justify his outburst and subsequently leaving the room. “His” truth as identified earlier in this blog.
It is unfortunate that “grumpy” as he likes to be called left the meeting. By doing this he failed in my opinion to meet his obligation to you to vote on the budget and what goes out to public consultation.
It is unfortunate also that he was not in attendance at two meetings convened earlier this year to hear from an independent consultant who we commissioned to provide opinion on our financial status and management.
Councillors as a group are far from financial wizards. Hearing from an independent expert in the field was an opportunity I for one was happy to embrace. Having said that I was pleased to receive congratulations from this expert that we are financially sound and are managing our assets well. His take on our finances helps me to make a decision with more confidence than I otherwise would.
We, or at least I, were reassured that our policy of always using loans to fund capital works is appropriate. I was also reassured that our level of debt, based on recognised accounting practices, is appropriate. The independent members of our audit committee who are well respected in the financial industry are likewise supportive of our approach. I expect they would feel Grumpy’s comments are an unwarranted and unfair blight against their reputation.
Grumpy is right that our level of debt is budgeted to increase and up some $ 5m in the last 3 years from $ 8m to $ 13 m. Notably the work scheduled for Goodwood Road to take advantage of the current State Government PLEC works takes up $ 3.3m of this. Also notable is the advice we received from the independents noted above that our self imposed maximum lending rate of 80% of rate income (which equates to $ 30m, double our current projections for debt limits in the ensuing years) is an appropriate and manageable limit. Curiously the chart he uses to back up his argument also shows our debt this year is budgeted to be leas than it was 10 years ago, and next year marginally above it.
Finally; the annual business plan and the financing of that plan including a proposed 2.2% rate increase is available for you to look at and comment on. The opportunity for the issue of debt to be robustly discussed both internally and within the community is available now as it goes out for public consultation. This is your chance to contribute to ensuring the rate increase we are proposing is appropriate or not, and that our debt level you can accept or not.
Waiting for your input once the consultation is up on our website.
And that is my truth, and I know I am right.