Dear Beagle Editor, I have just seen a comment published in your pages from a previous councillor, (no doubt that it is Keith Dance signing as K.D) who says: Barnard has been waffling on with nonsense for years. It is about time they shut him up. He rarely makes his point clear and concise and continues to search for the invisible. Been guilty of the same offense in the past myself. Onya boys!! We all know about the culture of disrespect by Councillors and staff for anyone with an opinion opposite to Council's. Last month when Mr Bernard recently spoke at Public Forum he was denied an extension of time by a vote of four against three. (Ed. For the record McGinlay, Constable and Nathan voted FOR an extension and Pollock, Tait, Thomson and Brown did NOT) .Was this because Mr Bernard was waffling on with nonsense or maybe because the councillors didn't like what he was saying. He was speaking about investments and was telling the General Manager that she hadn't written a report. He was about to ask that any future cancellations of Council meetings for conferences be overturned so that Council could get on with business. Is this the sort of waffling on with nonsense K.D is talking about? This is the Public Forum notes Mr Bernard said in his address to Councillors last month. Madam Mayor, It is noted that a number of policies are up for review and a person would not have the time nor would the council code of practice allow a person to address all those policies or even a few in the time available. I have selected one of those presented tonight and have a few questions that may help me to understand the contents of that policy. I assume that all councillors have been made aware of the content of the previous policies. This policy review is FD8/018 -Fraud control For example. It states that the existing policy has been reviewed with only minor referencing updates required. Madam General Manager 1. What does that mean ? 2. Will the public be made aware changes from the old to the new and the reason for those changes ? 3. For complete transparency will the old policy be on display with the new policy? 4 . It states in the report " The Audit , Risk and Improvement Committee has been provided with a draft copy for review. Will they be of advised as in 1, 2, and 3 above ? I'm not sure if new councillors are aware that after Mr Bernard addressed the council on at least four separate occasions the GM finally admitted they had made a number of errors in their Delivery Plans 2013-17 and Operation Plan 2016-17 . (Ed. See Mr Bernard's letter from the General Manager below dated July 2016) She admitted that $ 30,185,000 has been changed to $0.695M for proceeds from Assets sales and purchase of assets changed from $64.4 million to $26.44 Million. Mr Bernard was quite sure that resident and non-resident ratepayers would be aware of these errors - particularly the impact on the recent rate rises and IPART determination in finding the “”Eurobodalla Fit for the Future “ Mr Phil Constable was also concerned about this and said so in his election campaign.
NO MORE RATE RISE Phil Constable wants an audit on the whole rate rise fiasco. Council changed how it reported its finances in the budget and operational plans at the time of the IPART submission when seeking the rate rise. The General Manager calling a $30mil change in figures an 'error' is not a sufficient explanation as to what is going on. Rate increases affect everyone. especially the most vulnerable. Those pensioners and retirees on fixed incomes are hardest hit. A 21% increase is a huge impost. And was that rate rise justified? Where is the compassion from Council? The pensioner rebate has not increased for many years while rates continue their upward spiral. Increased rates mean less money for people to spend at businesses in the Shire. It slows economic activity, impacts on jobs — but not for our Council. "Let us have the audit; restore community faith that Council is actually working to provide the services for us; rather than us serving them." Phil Constable is standing for Mayor & Councilor at the Shire election. Phil has a long connection with the Shire. He has owned the Mitre10 store In Narooma 24 years and several other businesses previously. He attended the local high school and studied at the ANU. He has served as the past president of the local Chamber of Commerce and was co-founder on the local Blues Festival. Phil believes this election is A Chance for Change and Is heading an electoral ticket with Trish Horner. Wendy Paxton, Garry Bailey, Phil Jeffery and Maly Beecham.
At a rate rise public meeting in Batemans Bay (which was attended by many people in the Bay Library) several people questioned the Mayor and senior staff about the previous two meetings (one in Narooma and the other in Moruya) where the Head of Finances (in Narooma) and Council's GM (in Moruya) had both given the same false balance figure to justify the rate rises (saying they had 11 million in spare cash (unallocated funds) instead of the real figure of (over 26 million in the previous year 2014) and around 29 million in that current year)
The then Mayor Brown stated several times in reply to the crowd that "It never happened"
So I put in a code of conduct complaint with witnesses stating that it did happen. Including an email to me from the Bay Post newspaper reporter inadvertently confirming the false figure given by the GM in Moruya.
So the code of conduct reviewer had to confirm that it did happen. The excuse given was to claim that this false figure was just their personal interpretation of what they thought the figure should be? If anyone can swallow that one?
The paid reviewer also claimed that they had both explained this at both public meetings before giving the false figure (which witnesses say never happened of course) and that we were not allowed to appeal the decision to let them off.
But the fact remains. The then Mayor did apparently mislead, and council already had the money (in unallocated funds) that they claimed to need. So their public excuse for the rate rises was apparently false!
Council publicly claimed (in Moruya) that the reason for the rate rises was that they needed an extra 17 million for a dodgy list of extra works, and then, to apparently excuse for the 11 million they admitted to, claimed they liked to keep an emergency reserve of about 10 million.
But as they actually had around $29 million (which was going up by millions every year) they already had the money they claimed to need!
Councillor Milton Leslight also saw what was going on and wrote the following Media Release.
Note: Above Media Release is constructed of two scanned pages joined by Editor for this article.
So K.D reckons Mr Bernard has been been waffling on with nonsense for years and delivering his observations and concerns to Council Public Forums. I've seen how he is treated and most of the time Councillors make faces or laugh behind his back about his delivery style but Peter Barnard saw BIG errors. So did a lot of other people.But if anyone questioned Council they were told that they were wrong, that they didn't understand or that "It never happened". Well K.D, General Manager, Mayor, Councillors, Audit Committee, ratepayers - guess what? It did happen. And guess what else happened - Fit For the Future was Fudged for the Future and your Special Rate Variation to "fix an infrastructure backlog" was just a HUGE PORKY. Councillor Brown, we are not going to forget history and move on. Next time Peter Bernard talks to Council pay him some respect and shut up and listen. Damien Rogers Moruya