The Beagle Editor, This Innes budget has been prepared in reduced circumstances following the bushfires and moving into the unknown environment of Covid 19. It is a “plan for the future, based on prudent assumptions, committed to maintaining financial sustainability and risk, efficient and effective services and value for money.” This budget follows both 1. a slight easing of IPART's indexation arrangements and 2. a further continuation and indexation of the ever permanent SRV . IPART's indexation allowance of 2.6% would seem close to inflation. Over the last decade or more indexation was less than CPI . This previous tougher quantum was designed to encourage efficiency and productivity gains by local government. Technology has resulted in cheaper goods and services, this should include Council services. Water, as usual has increased at a greater rate, 3% and 2.7%, designed to hit inland owners more. The boiling frog principle is alive and well. Broadly speaking the budgets ins and outs are more of the same plus 2.6%. Many responsible organisations are planning for reduced income and are planning to align this with reduced expenditure. ESC help for businesses and individuals in trouble by way of rate relief or other help is negligible. While Covid19 is recognised by the ESC from a health perspective there are no budget concerns expressed in these papers. Early planning and action around reduced income could prevent a later crisis. Perhaps it is assumed State government will assist councils in trouble OR the ESC believe they can take the easy way out and run to IPART again for yet another SRV. The ESC has a responsibility to do better than this. They need to communicate their thinking to residents. Councillors and senior staff have rights and responsibilities, they need to think harder about the latter. We are coming into the year 5 of this council , the efficiency promises of Community Action Alliance, Community Voice, and others have come to nothing. The last annual report referred to expenses associated with “increased staff effort” . Does this continue in 2021, what does it actually mean , or is it commercial in confidence? So , another Innes budget, no change in direction, no response to uncertain times, all very disappointing ,again. Owen Cartledge.
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