A rate rise of 2.1% is set to be approved by the City of Unley

The City of Unley will approve their 2019-20 budget at this month’s formal Council meeting. I expect us to approve a rate rise of 2.1% at this meeting.

A 2.9% increase would have applied under the Government’s proposed rate capping. This demonstrates, with many councils following our example, that councils are responsible and able to manage their financial affairs.

In theory therefore the rates you pay will increase likewise by 2.1%.

Changes in property values, if consistent across a local government area, do not change what council rates you pay. It is therefore incorrect to say an across the board increase in property values means Council makes a killing.

If you have read my last blog post however, you will know that this year changes in property values however will be erratic to say the  least. This means some of us will pay more, some less.

Two factors influence the calculation of the rates you pay. The budget set by Council and the capital value of the property you own, as set by the Valuer General.

The process of assessing rates for an oncoming year commences with Council setting their budget. The valuer general then advises council what they have calculated is the total value of all rate-able properties in the council area.

The budget is then divided by the total property value to strike what we call “the rate in the $”. In my time on Council, this “rate in the $” has gone down each year.

When the value of your property (as valued by the Valuer General) moves at the same rate as the collective or total then your rates will increase by the amount of the budget increase set by council. If the value of your property increases less than the collective, your rates will increase by less than council’s budget increase. Likewise, if it escalates above the collective, then your increase will exceed the council budget increase.

Hopefully you appreciate a rate rise of 2.1%, and the services they provide you.

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.

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.

King William Road is 2.5 times over budget – That is news to me.

The recent headlines in the Advertiser and now the Eastern Courier that King William Road is 2.5 times over budget has shocked me. It is news to me.

King-William-Road-Concept-IllustrationAny suggestion that King William Road is 2.5 times over budget is completely wrong. It continues the agenda they (the media) have set for years now that it (King William Road) is all about pavers v bitumen.

Our Mayor and our CEO have sent a letter to the editor to set the record straight. Hopefully we will see a retraction in upcoming editions.

Mind you, such inaccuracies really should not shock me. There are times, as I have previously blogged, when I wonder if I would know more about the inner workings of Council by:

  1. not participating in the decisions of council and,
  2. simply reading the printed news.

This is another case that prompts this thinking.

The media is reporting that our original budget to upgrade the high street section of King William Road was $ 6.0 m. The final cost of $ 15.5 m calculates at 2.58 times.

We have never had a budget of $ 6.0 m for the high street redevelopment. Never.

Our budget was closer to $ 10.0 m. Added to this there will be ‘budgeted for’ work being done that is being bought forward. Works too, in conjunction with SA Water, that will surely be preferable now rather than later. These extra works has lifted our budget, including a contingency sum to cover the unforeseeables, to $ 15.5 m

The contract we have let for the project is a smidgen under $ 12.0 m. It takes into consideration the programming of works to avoid as much as possible interfering with our traders, and their need to continue business while work proceeds.

Heritage at Risk, or is it?

Heritage at Risk, or is it? That is the question I am asking on the back of this weeks media coverage of the State Planning Commission recent announcement.

 

Media coverage suggests that 12,000 homes across Adelaide could lose their status. Contributory items that is, could lose their status. Thankfully, State Heritage places and Areas, along with Local Heritage places appear to be safe. Heritage Conservation Zones would be at risk. So too would Unley’s Streetscape Zones.

Such a change will go down like a lead balloon in the inner suburban areas. Unley included. Many a conversation I have had with our rate payers confirm a fury over the possibility of us losing our heritage conservation and streetscape zones.

I am seeing a different storey. In short, the State Planning Commission has invited us to prove the case for retention of our various zones. To clarify, in their letter inviting us they are saying they will be receptive to our response.

Commission InviteIn that letter Mayors, Chief Executives and Elected Members have been invited to one of three sessions the Commission will hold on the transition. Transition, not removal.

We (Council) have the opportunity to ensure the zones are not lost. They are asking us to promote “why” we would transfer our zones into what is described as new layers in the new Planning & Design Code.

new layers

 

The fight not over. It is there to be won. That said, there is much work to be done.

We need (on mass) attend the workshops put on by the Commission. Accordingly, I personally have booked in to one on the 30th of this month.

We (Council) then must in within the time frames indicated by the Commission implement a DPA aimed at protecting our “character” homes. We will need to be diligent. You (our community) will need likewise to be diligent.

Make no mistake. If we don’t join forces and provide compelling evidence for retention of our current zones then our share of those 12,000 homes may well be at risk.

 

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.

 

 

It’s all in the Timing

It’s all in the timing we often hear. And that is the case when it comes to reporting on matters health in the City of Unley.

Active Ageing

Active Ageing

I blogged yesterday on the City of Unley having the highest risk of heart attack. I had planned in lieu to blog on Council receiving a grant for our new “Daily Moves” program. But with the headlines of the media focused on the negative….well.

On the good news.

We are one of 27 organisations to receive a grant from Sport Australia. A grant moreover of over $ 590,000.

The grant will fund the Council’s new Daily Moves program. The program aims to engage about 800 participants aged over 65 across the eastern region of Adelaide. A program we will be conducting with the Eastern Regional Alliance group of councils.

We are joined by the Cities of Burnside, Norwood-Payneham-St Peters, Campbelltown, Prospect and the Township of Walkerville. On their collective behalf, we will co-ordinate the program.

We will assess participants for physical health and to develop personalised exercise plans. The assessments will include a number of health factors. Most importantly, they will include balance, sleep quality and grip strength.

Such assessment will guide a personalised physical exercise plan. A personalised plan which as a result will include recommendations about local activities in fitness businesses, clubs and community settings or a home-based program.

Specific needs of individuals will be supported through modified fitness activities.

As I noted yesterday, the City of Unley was the first council in South Australia to become a World Health Organisation Age Friendly City and Community. Winning this grant is recognition of our leadership. It is in other words, all in the timing.

This is just one of our many projects to promote active and positive ageing. Similarly, programs that should impact on our collective risk of heart attacks. We look forward likewise, to making a positive impact on older people’s lives.

 

City of Unley Community at Highest Risk of Heart Attack.

What a shock for me yesterday. Fresh from a clean bill of heart health from my Doctor I find the Council region in which I live has the highest risk of heart attacks.

Yes. I get a clean bill of health and that I am at low risk of a heart attack. But I live in a community with a high risk of heart attack.

Having been diagnosed a year earlier as pre-Diabetic I actively pursued a healthier lifestyle. Watching the carbs I eat and walking most places within my ward when helping my rate payers has paid dividends.

Whether it was my weight, my blood sugars, my cholesterol, all looks good for me. Then to find my neighbours according to the article below are not so healthy is a concern.

That said the City of Unley has a fantastic active ageing program. A program that saw us become the first Council in Australia to be recognised by the World Health Organisation.

Seems many of you (my good neighbours) may need to know what we are offering to help you age. And we do offer much.

So. watch this space.

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.

New look for Councils runs deeper than you might think

Most of us recognise that there is a new look for Councils. It runs very much deeper however than is being recognised.

Yes. As my last blog post undoubtedly shows, the new City of Unley will consist of 8 women and 5 men represents this new look for Councils. We all know this is a gender turnaround of significance. It redresses a historic gender imbalance.

This is a trend across local government. Complimenting this trend we see also many Mayoral positions now occupied by women.

There is no doubt that this will changes the dynamic of Council.

A more significant dynamic, as yet not recognised, is the spread of ages on this new Council. This Council has representatives, by my judgement, in each age decade from under 30’s to over 80’s.

This to me is a much bigger shift than the gender shift. The previous council had but two members under the age I suggest of 50.

The contribution to any debate is going to be much fuller than it has been in the two terms of Council I have been a member of. As my co-councillor has oft said the last Council could be describes as a grey haired, retired, gentleman’s club. That is a far cry from this new Council.

Cross gender input will provide depth to the debate. Cross generational input will provide even greater depth. A clear new look for Councils, at least this one as I predicted in my blog post of October 9.

Further than this the age demographic shows up yet another dynamic.

This Council and possibly the next Council history may show as transitional Councils. Councils leading to a generational change.

The final observation I believe with this Council is that those of us remaining from the previous Council/s have a significant obligation. It will be incumbent on us to provide leadership in helping the new members to develop into the Unley Communities next generation of leaders.

Your Clarence Park Ward Councillors provide this.