Community Engagement Reform a Necessary Local Government Reform

Community Engagement Reform, the 4th area of the Governments Local Government Reform proposals, is necessary.

 

Many in the community consider community engagement is something that Councils are poor at. The Government’s local government reform package must therefore include a look into community engagement.

Much of the problem with community engagement is that council’s hands are tied. Tied in regulation that is not applicable to the world today. Regulation that is a one size fits all approach.

Replacing therefore the current prescriptive community engagement requirements in the Local Government Act with a more flexible ‘Community Engagement Charter’ is a no-brainer.  The consultation requirements under which we currently have to act are way too complex and prescriptive. The whole industry therefore looks forward I believe to a complete overhaul.

An overhaul in keeping with my previous utterances about our own ability to communicate with our community. An overhaul that allows individual councils the flexibility to engage with “their” community. Furthermore, an overhaul that recognises there should NOT be a one size fits all approach.

The issue of public notices also requires attention. The Act requires publication in a local newspaper. This is hardly a recipe for good communication today.

The Government has recognised that the current “informal gathering” legislation is causing distress and limiting elected members. It is true, under the existing legislation, that elected members worry that having legitimate conversations on the business of the council, will land them in trouble. We therefore need to find a way to promote transparency in councils without criminalising legitimate conversations.

The proposals however appear to be placing (yet again) an administrative burden on councils that will add cost to local government, not reduce cost. There will need to be some deep and meaningful discussion about how to balance the two, without creating another cost impediment to Councils. An impediment that will ultimately be transferred to you.

Matters of Integrity, behavioural Matters and the Role of the Mayor.

Matters of Integrity must be dealt with outside of Council and include consequences for breaches.

 

Who should deal with matters of integrity I am not sure. The Government is proposing some options.

No matter what or who it will come at a cost, just as we have now. It may not matter in the end, who.

It must however be an external body, and not handled in house.

What will matter is members who have committed a breach of integrity must be subject to swift investigation and include consequences for breaches.

We must avoid the lengthy process that occurs now. The consequences must be more than just being sanctioned as happens now.

 

Behavioural matters on the other hand are probably best dealt with in house.

 

The use of outside bodies to investigate and/or make recommendations needs to be questioned. I say that in as much as this potentially extends the time of investigation. Consequences, particularly for repeat offenders must be strengthened beyond the current practice of sanctioning.

It may be that a set of behavioural standard needs to be developed. I am not sure this can reasonably be achieved however. I question too, whether this is better achieved by each council rather than have another body establish it. The current Unley Council is working through, as we speak, a similar standard.

 

Greater Controls for the Mayor

 

The Government is right to consider this and seek yours and my input. It is a vexing question. Install powers like the Speaker has in the Government’s House of Assembly and Legislative Council.

The City of Unley has not, in my time, had behavioural issues warranting such action. It is hard to imagine therefore a need for such to be addressed in a new Local Government Act.

In my time as Deputy Mayor a couple of years back, I did hear from a few Mayors of the problems they faced in their chambers. Problems that, coupled with what we hear in the Media, lead me to believe implementing some Mayoral oversight may be appropriate.

It has the potential of course to be manipulated if the Mayor was one to take advantage of this power. Any change in legislation in his area needs to have inbuilt protections to guard therefore against misuse.

Stronger Council Member Capacity and Better Conduct

Stronger Council Member capacity and better Conduct is the first reform area in the Government’s Local Government Reform Agenda. This is indeed the area of highest priority.

 

Accordingly, stronger Council Member capacity and better conduct is the first area I also am giving thought to. As I noted in my blog post of 21 August I intend to convey my thoughts in each of the areas.

I agree with doing this. The Local Government industry agrees with doing this. Apart maybe from a handful of recalcitrant elected members, that is. Members who don’t see themselves as part of the elected body team struggle with this. Those who seemingly must be seen as fighting the establishment.

The media agrees with this and, with their prodding, so do you. Poor behaviour or conduct makes for the Medias view of good press. The press push any notion of poor behaviour on the part of elected members. With this being invariably the sole source of information you have on local government you obviously will likely share the same view.

What you might read in the press however is not the problem that needs to be addressed. It is separating integrity and behavioural issues, and the mechanisms that currently exist to deal with both.

The current rules are a vast improvement on the previous rules. They create confusion however. Members can be compelled by these rules to report perceived code of conduct breaches in fear of being in breach themselves.

The proposal being put forward aims to separate matters of integrity and behavioural matters. This is a must. Matters of integrity must always have robust procedures for handling, including penalties. On the other hand, behavioural matters can and should be dealt with differently.

 

The Government is proposing 20 recommendations.

 

Generally speaking I support all of these. Some with a degree of caution.

Please look to my next two blog posts as I look more closely at the difference between matters of integrity and behavioural matters. Look also for my thoughts on increasing the powers of the Mayor and (in a separate blog post) my thoughts on conflict of interest.

Local Government Reform Recommendations are a mixed bag.

Local Government Reform Recommendations are a mixed bag but fail to address the Government’s core objective. That is my in initial observation as I endeavour to review each of their 72 recommendations.

 

As I revealed in my last blog post the Government has made 72 recommendations to inform a new Local Government Act. 72 recommendations over 4 core reform areas. Some good, some not so good. I will respond to these in later blog posts.

Up front I have to say the recommendations fail the pub test though of achieving their core objective. They will not help to reduce the cost of local government providing the services they provide you. Indeed there is every potential they will increase the cost of providing those services.

They fail to look at what Local Government could look like in the future. They focus instead on fixing perceived legislative failings. A RACE TO THE BOTTOM AS IT WHERE. The reforms appear to have us spending MORE on governance than on roads and rubbish.

The recommendations, by and large all centre around governance, good governance. As a public utility spending public money (your money) it is important that good governance is a given. It is only natural that when reviewing procedures that the focus quickly turns to solving what is not working.

Not surprisingly, this leads to increasing governance measures. So naturally, any such exercise will potentially lead not to reduced costs but to increased costs. If that happens then the obvious question that must be asked is, am I getting good value for the extra $ I will see leave my pockets. Will it be worth it?

Not only are the reform recommendations are a mixed bag, they place potentially greater legislative restrictions on how we provide for our community. So, before you respond to the Governments invitation to contribute to the conversation, may I suggest you truly consider each recommendation and what it really means. If in doubt, look to my future posts on the reform recommendations.

Local Government Reform recommendations out for Public Consultation.

Local Government Reform recommendations are finally out for Public Consultation. The Government now wants to hear from you.

 

Local government reform and cutting the cost of local government was one of the election platforms of the State Government. They lost out to the Opposition and the Minor Parties with their blunt rate capping strategy. Notwithstanding this, they have been working hard on coming up with a suite of legislative changes that are aimed at a more efficient local government sector.

The local government industry has been in conversation with them since they took office. This continues the dialogue we had with the previous government. As I have blogged before, change is needed.

They now want to hear from you, and me.

With a view to introducing a draft bill in March next year the Minister has endorsed 72 recommendations. He is keen to know what we all think about these proposed changes. We all have until November 1st to provide our feedback.

If you have an interest in how local government might best serve you, here is perhaps your best chance. Go to the DPTI website and read through the recommendations.

If you have an opinion on any of them please make it known through their have your say. You can do this on the have your say page.

The 72 Local Government reform recommendations are spread over 4 areas.

The areas are as follows:

In summary, the proposals for reform are—

Reform Area 1 | Stronger Council Member Capacity and Better Conduct

Reform Area 2 | Lower Costs and Enhanced Financial Accountability

Reform Area 3 | Efficient and Transparent Local Government Representation

Reform Area 4 | Simpler Regulation

While this plays out they are also awaiting the report from the Productivity Commission. When their report is received it will sit alongside the survey results to inform their 1st draft bill.

I will be contributing, not just through the submission from Unley Council, but on my own volition. Watch out for future blogs for my thoughts.

The Ultimate Council Conflict of Interest. The role of Councillor itself.

Cr Don Palmer. Providing Local Leadership and Working For YiuWe hear much these days of conflict of interest. I have written about it. The media often have a feature on it. But what is the ultimate conflict of interest.

 

Following on from my blog post yesterday questioning who am I let us examine the role of an elected member. Not so much therefore, who am I but, what is my role in Council.

 

The fact is the conflict of responsibilities of your elected members is the ultimate conflict of interest.

 

The Local Government Act defines two clear, but conflicting roles.

The first of these is to be a member of the governing body of Council. The second is to represent the interests of residents and rate payers.

A conflict of roles if ever there was one.

 

 

Being a member of the governing body is alike to being a member of a company board of directors.

 

Being a member of a board of directors requires me to attend regular “director’s” meetings and participate in the deliberations of the council. As part of this role, I have the responsibility to keep the council’s objectives and policies under review. To ensure that they are appropriate and effective.

Importantly, I am also responsible to manage the council’s income and expenditure. This means keeping the efficiency and effectiveness of its service delivery under review.

This responsibility is only in concert with my fellow councillors. I cannot act alone. Neither can a small subgroup act alone.

Contrary to this responsibility however is my second defined role.

 

As a person elected to the council I must represent the interests of residents and ratepayers. I am required to provide community leadership and guidance. I must facilitate communication between the community and the council.

This means I must represent you and advocate for you to the Council.

This is a role many in the community do not understand. A role they don’t take advantage of.

As conflicting as these roles may sound they are also mutually complementary.

 

In order to represent you and advocate for you I must do so for all. For that to happen I must be conscious of the greater good. The good of our whole community.

So, even if what you seek advocacy for conflicts with your neighbours, I must seek to give you the best possible chance to be heard.

And that I will continue to strive to do.

Who Am I? Ever Played that Game. Sometimes I feel I am playing it now.

Have you ever played the game who am I. It has always been a fun game.

 

Cr Don Palmer. Providing Local Leadership and Working For YiuRemember putting a notice on your head and asking people yes/no questions and trying to whittle down to find out who you are. A game I remember playing as a kid. It was a game too, I recall, being the focus of a TV game a few decades back.

A similar game too, I recall being played on talk back radio. Always fun. Always entertaining.

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I found myself playing that game this week with one on my rate payers. A rate payer who did not understand my role. I therefore found myself trying to explain my role rather than focus on her concerns. This conversation naturally prompted me to consider writing this blog post.

Another Councillor explained to me this morning that she too has had a similar recent experience. This of course has convinced me of the need to put pen to paper.

In both cases the person with whom we were engaging believed we were employees of Council. This is NOT the case.

 

Who am I then? I am an elected member. An elected member of your Council.

 

Importantly, I am not an employee of Council. I am not a manager. Nor do I contract with Council.

I am an elected member, a Councillor. Elected by you last November as your representative on Council. Elected to be one of thirteen Councillors (including your Mayor) forming the City of Unley Council.

The next question is what is my responsibility and what did you elect me to do. For the answer to that question I ask you to watch out for a follow-up blog post.

A council, in turn, is established to provide for government and management of its area at the local level. Watch out for future blog posts on this too.

Serious Local Government Reform

Serious Local Government Reform is about to commence with an inquiry into local government costs and efficiency.

The State Government has asked the South Australian Productivity Commission to investigate local government. They have asked them to examine the trends in council costs and the efficiency and the drivers behind these trends. In order to get it right, they will consult local government and other key stakeholders.

This is all good news for me as I indicated in my blog back on May 24.

The LGA is seeking feedback from member councils to inform a sector-wide submission. Therefore, they will be hosting a workshop session with the Productivity Commission.

On your behalf, I intend to attend this session. As a result, I expect to get a good understanding of the approach they will be taking.

The inquiry will examine trends in the costs of local government and the drivers of these costs. It will also develop and analyse measures of efficiency resulting from the trends they have discovered. Likewise, it will identify ways that might be used by councils to measure and improve performance.

The exercise will result in the Commission providing advice and recommendations on options for improving efficiency in local government operations.

Council Rates AnalysisAs the table shows, your rates have increased well ahead of the CPI. They have also risen in excess of the LGPI (Local Government Price Index).

The Commission will identify the drivers of the increase in your rates.

This may include changes to the scope of services provided by councils. It will also identify changes in the environment within which councils operate. Likewise it will reveal ratepayer preferences for greater levels of service.

A final report is expected to be ready for submitting to the Parliament by November this year. I look forward to the results of this serious approach to Serious Local Government Reform.

Valuer General to cause stress to rate payers in Unley

Many City of Unley rate payers will be distressed when they receive their first rates notice for 2019-20.

 

Office of the Valuer-General

Office of the Valuer-General

Not I must say because of anything Council has or has not done. Their grief will be due to changes to the way their properties are valued by the Valuer General.

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While Council looks set to strike a 2.1% increase, the rates you pay may not reflect this. Changes in property values could show a different picture. We could see rates increase or decrease by up to 50% and more.

In other words, changes both ways. Significant changes.

Yes. There will be winners and losers. Some rate payers will be paying more than they traditionally have. Some significantly more.

Others, on the other hand, will be paying less. Some significantly less.

I expect Council will wear the brunt of any anger that may occur. This, even though the Valuer General is accepting the responsibility.

You will be receiving the rates notice from us. You must pay us. Many don’t recognise the value of your property is not set by Council, but by the Valuer General.

Concerned about the significance of the changes, the Valuer General briefed Council last week.

The Valuer General have advised they will be writing to all those property owners whose valuation will increase by 15% or more. There will be many however under this threshold that won’t know until they receive their first rates notice.

This is all (would you believe) due to an attempt to make the valuation of properties fairer. The Valuer General is changing how they calculate the property value. Factors not previously considered will now be used when assessing a property’s value.

These changes will affect mainly commercial properties, not residential properties. I expect therefore that changes in residential property rates thankfully will be minimal.

A fairer system of valuation that will not be seen that way this year.

Ombudsman Code of Conduct Concerns focuses on the trivial not serious.

The State Ombudsman, Wayne Lines, has spoken up this week on a topic that goes to the heart of one of the central reasons for Local Government reform. His code of conduct concerns is one area that the Local Government Industry is pushing hard to see changed.

 

We need tougher sanctions against those who are guilty of serious breeches. More on that however in a later blog post.

His code of conduct concerns however is asking Councils to stop the silliness. To stop making claims of a trivial nature.

Wayne Lines-OmbudsmanIn recent history there have been many reports of elected members making frivolous claims against one another. This brings the industry into disrepute. These claims take up the resources of the Ombudsman. His time can be better spent on the more serious. The ICAC likewise.

Trouble is the Act requires members to lay claims against others they believe to be contravening the Act. Failure to so do can cause a claim being made against them.

Not long after the Office of Public Integrity was formed, I remember him saying to a group of councillors that he has no interest in pursuing such. Legal advice however has interpreted the law literally. Ever since the industry and the ICAC have been calling for changes.

Here at the City of Unley we hopefully have a mature and adult approach to elected member behaviour. The current Council is working through a charter of behaviour that we will all sign up to when complete.

The Governments proposed probe through the Productivity Commissioner into local government should look into this.

New probe into council spending to push reforms

New probe into council spending to push reforms is the headline today in the IN Daily on line news. This spells the next chapter in the push for Local Government Reform.

 

Having failed in its attempt to cap council rates, the Government is now promoting they intend  to establish new probe into council spending to push reforms by the state’s Productivity Commission. This is good news in my opinion.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall and Transport Minister Stephen Knoll (AAP Image/Kelly Barnes)

I welcome this move as a construction move. I expect the local government industry will too. Certainly, the article indicates the LGA president (Sam Telfer) is in support. We will no doubt discuss this among ourselves in the next short period of time.

Investigating what is a myriad of differences in what the various councils do and how the fund them is the right approach to reform. This will definitely be of benefit to the local government industry.

Each council should eagerly participate in this exercise. They should also be eager to see the results. Such an exercise would help in our efforts to gauge our performance against other councils.

We often try to compare ourselves to other councils. We do so as a guide to how well we may or may not be performing. That has always proved most difficult. It is because of the differences between us in how we go about things. Likewise in how we fund them. Furthermore, it is how we record them.

I would expect your elected representatives will be better informed in decision making. Our administration likewise will have more confidence with what they may put before the elected members. The big benefit will be yours however.  You can then better value what your Council is doing for you compared to what others are doing for their communities.

Done right and down well however will take some significant resources. I expect it will take some serious time too.

Fish Tank 2019 now open for budding young Entrepreneurs

Council is fishing for future entrepreneurs.

Fish Tank 2019 could be your (or your sons or daughters) greatest opportunity. Because of the success of Fish Tank 2016 and Change Makers 2018, we are confident that there will be those in our community who will benefit from Fish Tank 2019.

 

Fish Tank 2019

Fish Tank 2019

We are aiming Fish Tank 2019 at our young people. People aged 12 to 25 years and who live, study, work or play in the City of Unley. More appropriately, we are aiming at young people who have a business idea they want to take explore.

By participating in Fish Tank 2019 they could win a prize package that will help grow their business.

Fish Tank 2019 is designed to engage, support, celebrate and invest in Unley’s young people. Designed for those young people who have an entrepreneurial bent. Young people with a business idea.

Participants will have the opportunity to ‘pitch’ their business ideas to a panel of industry judges.

Applications are now open for the opportunity to pitch your business idea to the Fish Tank 2019. By applying you could win a prize package that will help grow your business! Applications close 18 March 2019. Visit www.unley.sa.gov.au/fish-tank to submit your business idea.

 

FREE ENTREPRENEURSHIP WORKSHOP

Saturday 9 March 2019, 1pm – 4pm, Fullarton Park Community Centre.

Learn from business leaders and young entrepreneurs, and develop your own business idea. As noted above, applications are open to all young people aged 12-25 who live, work, study or play in the City of Unley. Registration is essential and should be addressed to Laura De Bono, [email protected] or (08) 8372 5111 by Wednesday 6 March 2019.

 

Visit www.unley.sa.gov.au/fish-tank for terms & conditions, FAQ’s, prize package details and further information. Alternatively please contact Laura De Bono, Community Development Project Officer-Youth at [email protected] or (08) 8372 5111.

Political Ties Part Only of Wider Suite of Council Reforms.

Council reforms are back on the media Agenda. But we need a wider suite of Council reforms.

The Local Government reforms being advocated however are too limited. They are restricted to one issue only, that being Candidates declaring prior to the elections any political ties. We therefore need a wider suite of council reforms

Cr Don Palmer. Providing Local Leadership and Working For You

Such a narrow focus as this does not serve us well. Neither the reputation of local government, nor the opportunity for positive change.

I whole heartedly support such disclosures prior to running for election rather than after the dust has settled. If we want improved Local Government into the future however, we need to be discussing a much wider suite of Council reforms. Reform focused on elected members and more broadly focused industry reforms.

Yes. Reform of Local Government Reform is needed. It will come.

The Industry knows it and is advocating for it. The Government signalled prior to its election that it sees reform in the local government as essential.

The State Opposition prior to Christmas promoted its own reform agenda. And the Independents in the State Parliament are also for change.

Venturing down this road in 2019 (and we should) should see a focus on a wider suite of council reforms however. Wider than has been placed before the public thus far.

At the very least, the following bullet point list needs to included in any reform package.

  1. Election reform should include disclosure of where a candidate lives and prior to the election.
  2. Election reform should also allow all candidates to have digital copies of the electoral roll for their ward.
  3. Likewise, election reform should allow also for digital voting.
  4. Strengthening of the Elected Member Code of Conduct to give it some teeth and legal muscle.
  5. Develop guidelines, procedures and templates to allow the voluntary implementation of the Local Government (Boundary Adjustment) Amendment Act 2017.
  6. Improving performance of Councils and creating best practice by using a more understandable means of bench marking.
  7. Investigating other revenue opportunities to reduce the reliance on rates.
  8. Likewise, to reduce the reliance on rates, improving mandatory revenue options to achieve cost recovery-user pays.
  9. Streamlining the industrial relations processes into an industry standard.
  10. Clean up the auditing processes of Local Government.

I look forward to providing local leadership in the coming months to encouraging this wider suite of council reforms.

Thank You, thank you, thank you.

Thank you to everyone for indicating your confidence, allowing me to continue providing local leadership and working for you. It is heart-warming to receive your support.

More than this though, it is a great responsibility to represent you in local government.

Yes. Thank you.

Thank YouI thank all those who voted for me and those who chose to vote but did not vote for me. You both exercised your right to vote. You also showed your own leadership by accepting the responsibility to vote.

I received 410 of the 1355 votes cast by Clarence Park ratepayers. This is marginally less than what was required for a quota (429) in its own right on 1st preferences. Clarence Park ratepayers voted slightly more than the state average.

I thank also and especially that small band of volunteers who helped me with my campaign. Those who walked the streets for me delivering election flyers. Those also who scrutineer-ed for me. And to those who encouraged me during the process.

As your re-elected member of Council I will be working for all of you, whether you voted for me or not. I will be working for you whether or not you voted.

It is now time for me to celebrate my re-election. I will do this privately in the comfort of my own home and with my family. It won’t be a big celebration though as I reflect and focus on the responsibility you have bestowed on me.

For me, I am preparing my to do list as we speak in readiness to advance your interests in keeping with my many commitments. The commitments announced to you in this forum that have preceded this blog post.

I will post a blog as soon as I am able to report the makeup of the next Council.

Again. Thank You.

Providing Local Leadership: Working for better local government (LGA).

The City of Unley has not taken full advantage of their membership of the Local Government Association (LGA). Many other Councils likewise.

 

LGA LogoThey all willingly take advantage of services such as the discounts available on Insurance or lower finance costs in taking out loans. Likewise, other services such as these are on offer and utilised.

We all also gain a benefit from the significant research and advocacy that the LGA provides. Research and advocacy that Councils individually simply could not afford to do on their own.

Councils who contribute to what to research or what advocacy to undertake are the ones who receive the greatest benefit. By this I mean the LGA will research what the Councils who take an interest ask them to research. Likewise they will undertake advocacy roles asked of them by the majority of Councils. Unley has not recently contributed t this.

Some Councils who also have been inactive here have complained they don’t get the service they should from the LGA. Murmurings similar to this have echoed from time to time in Unley.

I have always been a firm believer that an association is only as good as its membership. Active members make for a strong association. Passive members don’t contribute and this is when a feeling of disassociation occurs. Not because of the executive however but because of the members themselves.

To avoid the City of Unley being caught up in this I have put my hand up to become our representative on the Greater Adelaide Region of Councils (GAROC) Committee. Council has endorsed my nomination.

If elected to this board by the LGA members I need also to look for your endorsement as one of your two local councillors. If you elect someone else, no-one from Unley will be providing local leadership to the LGA.

Written & authorised by Don Palmer, 19 Kelvin Avenue, Clarence Park SA 5034

Externally imposed Rate Capping is Dead

Labor warned us a day ago. They confirmed today that they would join the cross benches and vote the Government’s bill down. Externally imposed rate capping is dead as a result.

 

Rate Capping is DeadSo up go the headlines. Rate capping Dead. No, externally imposed rate capping is dead.

The fact of the matter is, the Government’s Rate Oversight Bill is doomed.  As I have explained before the Government’s bill was not so much about rate capping as it was about an external body setting a cap on council rates.

This is good news for the local government industry. With due respect to ESCOSA, the body earmarked to be the oversee-er, you (the local community) are the best overseer there can be in keeping rates down.

Good news in that the government has never been clear on what how the rates should be capped. We were led to believe by the CPI.

By doing so we were told the average rates would come down $ 500.00 . That claim by Minister Knoll was probably the trigger for the bill’s failure.

If this were true, with 26,000 rate payers, the City of Unley revenue of some $ 40m would reduce by  $ 13m. An extravagant claim by the Government. That Councils are so extravagant they can reduce their rate based revenue by a third. I defy anyone to shave $ 13m of the Unley budget and honestly believe that the Council would survive.

The bill is yet to be voted down in the Parliament however. Until the fat lady sings as it were.

All that aside, it is comforting to hear that the opposition appears to be heeding the call of our Local Government Association’s assessment of how the sector CAN be reformed. The sector can do with reforming. The Government could do well to jump on board and grab the agenda back.

Is the LGA Lunatic Asylum correct in declaring there is no benefit to Councils being a member of the LGA?

As covered in my recent Lunatic Asylum blog post a claim being made by many elected members in the industry. This includes from within Unley Council.

They claim there is no benefit to Councils being a member of the LGA?

LGA LogoCity of Unley logoIndeed, two questions have been asked in our chamber along these very lines. Questions based on there being no benefit to Councils being a member of the LGA.

Answering the first question, to access these services the City of Unley invests $ 55,000.00 per annum.

Our membership entitles Unley of the services of the LGA in both advocacy and assistance.

The LGA is a representative body. Accordingly, it succeeds on the input of its members.  My blog “Are Your Leaders Showing Leadership or Merely Expert Spectators?”examines this observation.

Membership provides us with the following opportunities:

  • For us to share experiences with the wider local government industry;
  • To learn from each other;
  • To work together to find solutions for common obstacles; and
  • Make our work more cost-effective.

This is difficult to monetise. Anyone who is a member of any other association would recognise this. Whether in a sporting club, a social club, or a church, members recognise the need to have an association.

Businesses often ally themselves to an association. Even the trade union movement and all the Unions recognise this through the Council of Trade Unions.

Rate payers fund our membership. Let’s examine some of the benefits.

LGA advocacy is invaluable.

While we may obtain some grant funding by way of direct negotiation, we still need the LGA. We simply do not have the resources to be in continuous dialogue with the State or Federal Government.

We believe we are in the running for some funding for the King William Road redevelopment. Due to the advocacy on the part of the LGA this takes much pressure off the budgeting of this necessary project.

They influenced the implementation of the State’s new planning system.Likewise they provided input into the new Planning and Design Code. This because we we could not have done so on our own with some consistency with other Councils. Consequently, one recent major win here was their successfully obtaining relief for councils from contributing to the SA Planning Portal contributions. Sorry but I can’t remember how much this was but it was significant.

They have made submissions with our input to the State Government on the Community Engagement Charter, Design Code and Accreditation Scheme. Likewise they have advocated on the e-planning portal. This has resulted in a 12-month delay and a saving to councils upwards of $24,000.00.

The LGA provides direct assistance in several key areas.  Thankfully this can be measured financially.

Education and training available through the LGA would cost us at least $ 65,000.00 pa if we were to source like programs ourselves.

Just keeping up with legal changes confronting Councils and delegations and authorisations adds $ 10,000 pa to our costs.

Financial assistance is a major benefit. They provide this by way of low cost loans via their finance arm. As a result they save the 68 councils an average over $100,000.00 pa each. Most noteworthy, some Councils have tested this over time. Their investigations have concluded that the LGAFA to be the best avenue of low cost loans.

Likewise, the workers compensation scheme and the mutual liability scheme save on average across the 68 councils around $ 500,000 each.

This year is an election year. Because of their resources the LGA provides the bulk of the cost of achieving this, saving us around 0.5 FTE and a cost of $ 50,000.00. Especially relevant this is the same as the membership fee.

In conclusion, I suggest anyone suggesting there is no benefit to Councils being a member of the LGA is not demonstrating leadership.

Are Your Leaders Showing Leadership or Merely Expert Spectators?

I remember reading once that before you can be a leader you need to be able to follow. Can I ask are your community leaders showing leadership? Or are they merely spectators?

I also remember being a member of a club whose whole 20 some membership formed the management committee. At meetings of this club a group would sit in the background talking about what was happening in their lives outside the club. They would then complain as soon as the meeting was complete about the poor decisions being made by the committee.

Another memory was attending a seminar where the speaker spoke about “the exerts are all in the grandstand”.

He spent 45 minutes differentiating between those on the field and those in the grandstand. He talked of the athletes making mistake after mistake but getting back up again. Of how they left their guts on the field.

He then spoke of those in the grandstand. Those self-appointed experts who spent the entire match criticising those game enough to put their bodies on the line. Those who pulled apart and examined every mistake and who called for the sacking of some of the gladiators.

Back to you! Does this portray your community leader/s. Or do those representing your community on Council have vision. Are they leaders showing leadership.

Are they prepared to enter the debate. Prepared to explore, examine, and be prepared to make decisions. To be part of the solution.

Do they do this at Council level. Do they then also contribute at an LGA level?

In other words, are your leaders showing leadership or are they simply spectating and/or complaining. Do they sit back at Council level, wait for others to move motions and then criticise?

Do they help you through the bureaucracy, whether at Local level or at State and Federal level or do they simply criticise Council staff or the various government departments?

Listen to what your leaders are currently saying about membership of the LGA.

In November you have the chance of rewarding your leaders or replacing them, if you believe they aren’t, with someone who will provide the leadership you deserve.

LGA Rate Capping Stance Prompts Call for LGA to be Dumped.

Everyone knows the State Government wish to impose rate capping on Local Government. We also know that the Local Government Association (LGA) has consistently opposed this.

Now some elected members are nervous of retribution by the State Government because of the LGA campaign.

Many are calling for the LGA to withdraw its campaign. Some for the sacking of the LGA. Others, including from within Unley, are calling for their Council to cancel their membership.

Hang on guys. We do not yet know what the Government is proposing or what form rate capping will take. We do not even know whether it will be approved by Parliament. When we do know then we will be able to direct the LGA to lobby on our behalf.

The question of LGA membership or the future of the LGA I addressed this morning in my LGA Lunatic Asylum blog post.

The question of rate capping remains however whatever happens in the LGA arena.

In my opinion, and from what I believe should be an Unley point of view, I still do not see a need for a State induced rate capping. I have written several blog posts covering this.

Let us recognize that Unley DOES have rate cappingRate Capping.

For the last six years we have set our rate first and adjusted our budget to suit. The cap we have set is CPI plus 1%.

During this time our rates have increased 25% compared to an average 41% in the rest of the industry.

This year we expect to be well inside this, maybe CPI plus 0.3%

.If other Councils were doing this then I venture to suggest the Government would not be threatening to impose an external cap.

Would it not be great if most Councils followed Unley’s lead? We would not be having any arguments now. Not rate capping. Not cancelling membership of the LGA etc.

Local Government Lunatic Asylum Calling for Dumping of LGA

With a Local Government election looming the Lunatic Asylum is now active at Local Government level. Many in our industry, including from within Unley Council, are calling for the LGA to be abolished. At the very least some are questioning whether their own Council should continue to be members.

LGASA

Local Government

I expect many in the Community would agree and I don’t blame you. Your knowledge of the LGA would be based more than likely totally on what you hear in the media or sadly, from us.

Those inside the industry should know better however. Given this I suggest they are members of the local government lunatic asylum.

Associations are only ever as good as their membership. The LGA is no different. It is only as good as its membership. It is the membership that makes an Association strong.

I put it to those inside the industry to take a cold, hard look at themselves. This includes members of my own Council, Unley.

The LGA can only ever be as strong or as weak as they (the elected members) want it to be. Members need to be active, to participate in working groups and the decision-making process. The LGA will be stronger only if its members actively contribute and not expect to get everything done for them without contributing.

Much of the angst I believe against the LGA springs from their fight against rate capping. The claim is they are not representing the industry in this campaign.

Given only a handful of the 68 Councils in SA voted against the campaign, Unley included, to make this claim surley questions whether you should be part of the local government lunatic asylum. While I have blogged previously on this, this may need to be the focus of a later blog.

Many are justifying their stance by claiming that we (Councils) don’t get value for our membership. Once again it is my belief that these Councillors are not contributing to making the Association relevant. More also on that in a later blog.