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Council to be called out for failing to consult with community over new rating system

Unfortunately the community will not be able to hear or see members of their community this morning presenting at Public Forum to councillors over their concerns of the Council staff making a submission to support a new rating system based on the value of your home rather than your unimproved land value. You won't be able to see or hear the presentations because this council voted to get rid of live streaming, recording and archiving of public presentations and is now the only Council in the South East that does not provide their community the opportunity to hear the questions, the responses and the presentations of their fellow community members. One presentation this morning will be from Mr Jeff de Jagger: Submission to Council 10 September 2109

CCS19/042 Rating System review – Local Government

The report before you today contains a letter from the Minister for Local Government dated 21 June 2019 which in part says the full suite of IPART recommendations “if implemented could substantially change our local government system and impact directly on communities”.

So it’s a big deal, eh?

The Minister, rightly, in her letter, goes on to say that “it is important that councils, community members and organisations representing the interests of local government should have the opportunity to fully consider these issues before the Government proceeds with a final response to the reports”.

But until the agenda for today’s meeting was published, very few if any members of the community were aware that such changes were being considered let alone knowing what impacts those recommendations might have or even that they could have access to a process to seek further information or make their views known.

I understand too that a briefing session attended by six of you last Wednesday was the first time some of you Councillors might have heard of the IPART recommendations or the Minister’s letter or the deadline for responses to be made to the OLG even though the IPART report has been available for yonks and the Ministers letter was 11 weeks old.

One of the headings to the report before you today is: Outcome - Innovative and Proactive Leadership. I ask you to consider carefully how you can ensure this noble vision can be achieved in the way you address this report.

The Recommendation of the report before you is that: Council submit to the office of Local Government responses to the recommendations raised in the IPART report “Rating System Review” as attached to this report. Councillors, you are Council! Are you willing to submit the responses as being yours after an initial briefing to six of you held on 3 September 2019, only one week ago, as said before yonks after the IPART report and 11 weeks since the Minister‘s letter? Why weren’t you and the community involved months ago allowing time to properly seek the community members’ views.

Bearing in mind the Minister’s own concerns about the way the IPART recommendations could substantially change our local government system and impact directly on communities, please, Councillors, I urge you to defer this report until you and the community are fully informed and that proper engagement and consultation with the community has occurred. The Minister would probably go along with this in the interests of good governance.

If you believe a deferment is not possible at this late stage, three days before the published cut-off date, would you please amend the recommendation before you to read –

That

Council agrees to -

1. Submit the staff responses in this report to the Office of Local Government, clearly identified as being the responses of the staff, that they are not necessarily those of Councillors nor they do not have the agreement or endorsement of Councillors until the Councillors are more fully informed and have participated in thorough community consultation (yet to be held).

2. Immediately implement a process to -

· Fully inform the community of the IPART recommendations and any likely impacts they might have.

· Conduct comprehensive consultation and engagement with members of the community to obtain their views.

· Prepare and submit to the OLG a comprehensive Council submission incorporating the responses of the community and Councillors to the IPART recommendations.


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