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If it ain't broke

Dear Beagle Editor

I have been informed that Council is continuing to participate in the CSBA Mystery Shopper Program for the current financial year at a cost to the ratepayer of $46,000 per annum. This is an initiative of the general manager Dr Catherine Dale. We were told that ESC came first in a field of 24 competing councils for the quarter ending March 2017. How can we improve on such a high standard? We have always had a first class front line staff and there was never a need for participation in this wasteful program. In house training on ‘manners’ would suffice or simply ASK the community if there is room for improvement. Yes, there is room for improvement but it starts at the senior management level, not the customer service staff.

So, over a four year period, a total of $184,000 has (and will be spent) on this useless program at the general manager’s discretion ($884 per week). This expenditure is buried in the 2017-18 Budget that the new councillors signed off on. I have confirmation that the Council budget in the Operational Plan (on page 62) only shows the totals for income, expenditure and net spend per service as well as the capital spend per service in 2017- 2018. The budget is not itemised below this level. I have confirmation the cost for the Mystery Shopper Program is included in the budget under Customer Assistance and Records.

Given the volume of paperwork they are given to read through, I doubt they would have given a second thought to query the line item break down of $1 million for Customer Assistance and Records and discover for themselves it had the ongoing Mystery Shopper Program included. Or maybe the Councillors knew and endorsed the ongoing commitment to the General Managers discretionary Mystery Shopper program knowing full well that the community were now aware of the outrageous cost and the irrelevance of the ranking. This amount of money would have fenced (8) dog parks or paved a good section of the path/cycleway at Moruya South Head or perhaps brought the old Batemans Bay Bowling Club up to standard for ‘interim use by the community’.

Begs the question, Is Council Spending OUR money wisely.

Coral Anderson


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