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Monash Ratepayers Press Release 12 June 2018:

12 Jun 2018

What do you know about the integrity of Monash Council?

Press Release.jpgMayor Klisaris said that the council is disappointed with the Essential Service Commission (ESC) counter offer of 2.57% average rate rise (instead of the 3.53% council has sought).

The Monash community is even more disappointed with the Mayor’s response that refutes the ESC’s assessment outcomes and generous offer. It is because Monash Council has the financial capacity to absorb the increase in recycling waste costs and still remain in healthy surplus positions.

Yes, the council has not only lied to the ESC, but also its own community.  Mayor Klisaris claimed that the council would deteriorate its financial position, notably reduced liquidity, if it doesn’t increase average rate to 3.57% rate next year.

BUT the mayor also conveniently forget to mention the ESC Decision and Deloitte reports, which reveal misleading and missing information provided by Monash Council in its higher cap rate application, that

  • The council’s 2018/19 financial forecasts projected healthy financial positions for the next 4 years, including having more than ample cash on hand capacity to absorb the annual $1.5 million shortfall in recycling costs.
  • Should the ESC reject the proposed 3.57% rate, Mayor Klisaris said that the council would impend to reduce
    • discretionary community projects;
    • assets renewal, however without disclosing a long term assets management plan and therefore has no evidence to support this second threat.

What makes Mayor Klisaris say all the misleading information and unfounded threats in his press release response to the ESC decision?

There are two types of people who become councillors. There are those who genuinely aim and achieve outcomes in the real interests of the Monash community and there are the “otherwise” people.  The ESC Decision and Deloitte reports concluded that the council’s higher cap rate application is likely to over-charge rate-payers in the longer term. When people read these 2 reports, most people would realise that this council had reactively and hastily made a biased decision to lock in a high cost recycling waste contract with Visy and without due process and public engagement. Council also failed to disclose that it has received funds from the State Government to address this problem, which is faced by all councils in Victoria. Council’s decision making has broken the transparency, accountability and citizen partition principles of good governance, also embedded in the Local Government Act. The rule of law does not appear to be relevant in Monash Council’s leadership.

Back to the opening question, what do you know about the integrity of Monash Council? Yes, our council simply wants to increase rates, to avail more cash on hand, to spend more on discretionary projects. After all, federal and state elections are looming, and most people know some of our councillors are running for these elections.  The good news for these councillors is that they can get the Monash ratepayers to foot their election campaigns via their discretionary programs.

One more thing – last year Mayor Lake tried to engage with the community to persuade ratepayers accept the introduction of a new waste charge, which is outside the constraints of the Local Government Minister’s rate capping policy. Ex-Mayor Lake failed. Monash is one of 7 remaining councils whose waste management costs are constrained by rate capping. By transferring waste management costs that are regulated by the Minister’s cap, to a new charge rate, Monash Council can increase its capacity to charge ratepayers and raise more discretionary money in the future.

Now Mayor Klisaris is campaigning to transform ex-Mayor Lake’s failure into his team Monash success, that he /council has no choice now, but to introduce a new waste charge and censure ESC for forcing the council to go against the will of the Monash community. A wicked problem strategy for manipulating decision making and public opinion – how would you feel about that?

 

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New Directions for MRI

Effective from 9 Sep 2017, MRI is no longer a chapter of the Eastern Ratepayers group.Its new strategic directions no longer align with those of the Eastern Ratepayers group.

MRI has decided to play a more value adding role in developing ratepayers and residents capacity building, from local to national impact. MRI has joined Ratepayers Australia Inc (incorporated A0100027J) to contribute to the future-proofing of good governance in councils. It will operate as part of Ratepayers Australia’s Victorian portfolio and upscale its local advocacy capacity building and performance  as a professional local peak body in ratepayers and residents’ representation, as Monash’s new professional community of practice in ratepayers/residents advocacy development and the future-proofing of good governance in Monash council.

MRI is officially a chapter of Ratepayers Australia, collaborating with several ratepayer leaders to share governance scrutiny information about councils across the state.

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Progress Update on Community Governance Developments in Monash

Community Governance Capacity Building.gifCommunity governance is making corporate governance in Councils work for their communities and allows citizens to be overseers of Councils’ corporate governance performance . Corporate governance, in both private and government sectors is also now becoming more about formalizing and making clear and consistent the decision making processes within organizations.

This MRI concept of community governance came about in Monash in 2012 because Monash citizens participating in Council affairs are no longer satisfied with existing models of engagement that are tokenistic and controlling, and they  hinder genuine participatory democracy in improving efficiency, rates affordability and best value benefits delivery to people. With the recent legislation of Local Government reforms, the Monash community governance initiative has realized its first success milestone.

More specifically, community governance is about community becoming advocate leaders and taking overseeing roles to ensure good governance principles are complied in every aspects in Council affairs, from behaviors, especially decision making, to action taking. Good governance compliance is expected from Council leaders, including Administrative Executives to every employee, suppliers and any other parties it deals with.

In Monash, the citizen’s community governance model is evolving fast to involve:

  • Building strong and well-functioning community networks of influencing the design, implementation and evaluation of compliance to good governance principles in any Council
  • Focused public oversee of a Council’s decision making concerning matters that affect the personal lives, inter-generation sustainability and rates affordability of every individual residing,  working or volunteering  a city
  • Creating and sustaining a learning community that is informed and empowered to expect and demand transparency, accountability and inclusiveness from Local Government and their service providers, including advocacy and professional development bodies such as the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV)
  • Identifying collaborative and innovative ways to help facilitate Local Government become more accountable to their citizens and end users by show high competency and measurable performance in complying to good governance principles, from single issues to whole of organization performance
  • Educating the community about good governance and how they can translate their civil rights in inclusive civic participation into playing effective community governance roles themselves.

Community governance is no longer the models of just how Monash Council can better engage with people but how the Monash community wants to engage with Council. It is an intertwined citizen participatory and participative democracy model that dares bring community participation to the highest level of being partners in decision making and corporate governance affairs.

 

References:       Participatory Governance, Lova, Murray & Shaffer, 2004

Participatory Governance, Edwards, 2008

From Citizen Participation to Participatory Governance in Australian Local Government, Aulich, 2009

Participatory Governance: From Theory To Practice, FIsher, 2012

Participatory Governance Exchange, 2014

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