Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Council budget 2012/13

THE Derwent Valley Council budget for the 2012/13 financial year was approved at last week's council meeting, carried by a majority of eight votes to one. As I had expressed in earlier council workshops, councillors had not done enough to reduce expenditure and avoid the forecast 5% increase in rates for the next year. As a last resort I proposed that councillors take a 20% cut in their allowances in order to bring the rates rise down to 4.5% but that also failed.

These are my speech notes from the meeting:

"Mr Mayor, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the work of all council staff involved in the preparation of this budget. I am not satisfied with this budget but that is not the fault of the staff. At a time of ever increasing costs for water, electricity, fuel and other essentials, I cannot support the proposed 5% rating increase.
"Mr Mayor, not only have councillors failed to rein in expenditure, we are also requested to approval additional expenses in tonight's agenda, possibly adding a further $14,000 that is not budgeted for, as well as a blank cheque for the RAFT partnership agreement.
"Six months ago this council adopted a similar blank cheque approach to the former business enterprise centre, now called the Carinya Education Park. This was stated to be at a minimal cost, which has turned out to be more than $19,000 in half a year, while the income received was about $1800.
"The 5% rates increase is not necessary Mr Mayor. For example, it is not necessary to re-seal a short dead-end laneway to highway width, and some footpath reconstruction could have been delayed.
"In response to our failure to cut our costs, I have proposed that councillors request a 20% reduction in their allowances. Unfortunately this proposal has been shunted to a closed meeting away from public scrutiny.
"On the whole, Tasmanian councils have managed lower increases than that proposed tonight. One council to our north has even introduced a $20 rate rebate."

Here is a list of this year's rate rises around Tasmania, which I will add to as the information becomes available. Please note that not all are directly comparable due to different systems in use at various councils:

Latrobe 1.1%
Brighton 2.1%
Dorset 2.1%
Burnie 3.5-4%
Clarence 3.9%
Kingborough 4%
Launceston 4%
Wynyard 4%
Huon Valley 4.8%
Hobart 4.9%
Derwent Valley 5%
Glenorchy 8%


  1. It should be noted that the recommendations (adopted by a majority of Councillors) in-regards to The Derwent Valley RAFT Board of Management Partnership Agreement did not request a financial commitment from Council.
    Whilst I acknowledge that it is unfortunate that there has been a current Council expenditure of $17,182.78 on Carinya Education Park (CEP), I can ensure that the expenditure has been on essential refurbishment works. These works have been communicated to all Councillors and senior staff, and have been stated in Council Youth Services monthly reports. These reports are freely available in the Council Information Bulletins (attachments to Council meeting agendas, downloadable from the Council website).
    These refurbishment works consist of;
    • Updating fire-equipment (fire-extinguishers and fire-hoses)
    • electrical works (replacing some non-functioning hot-water cylinders, external sensor lighting and internal emergency lighting, and testing/tagging the main kitchen area and other electrical appliances)
    • Inspections and approval by Building and Environmental Health
    • Updating onsite first-aid kit
    • Cutting of additional keys and modify some locks

    Other items in this expenditure include;

    • Aurora costs
    • Obtainment of insurance

    The current revenue of $1,600 has been majority generated from appropriate charging of service providers for usage of CEP, providing further training for youth and the community (eg. the provision of Certificate II in Hospitality course).
    It should also be noted that approximately a total of five-hundred (500) voluntarily hours has been contributed by D’FAT members (including non-members involved in working-groups), LOOP participants, volunteers (either high school students or other youth) and the Council Cleaners to general cleaning and maintenance of CEP. Additionally, there have been significant donations of items (eg. curtains, printers, televisions, kitchen items, cleaning equipment) to CEP.
    A fact, CEP has contributed to an increase in the provision of support, education and training for youth in the Derwent Valley. I would anybody to visit CEP.

    Matt Hill
    Youth Participation Officer
    Derwent Valley Council.
    (Manager of the daily operations of CEP)

    1. Many thanks Matt, I appreciate your ongoing interest in this site and your active sharing of information.

      You correctly point out that the RAFT Partnership does not request a specific financial commitment from the council. What it does require the council to do is:

      * Provide administrative support to take and distribute minutes and agendas for RAFT Board of Management Meetings.
      * Arrange for council staff, including those at a senior level, to support education, training and working opportunities associated with the RAFT initiative as and when required.
      * Provide the Carinya Education Park facility for a minimum of two years with the possibility of further commitment depending on the financial viability.
      * Oversee the daily operations of Carinya Education Park by the council Youth Participation Officer and other council staff.
      * Contact potential stakeholders to use the Carinya Education Park facilities thereby extending youth services in the Derwent Valley.
      * Pro-actively promote the RAFT initiative [as it has since 2005].

      I have no argument with those contributions other than that they do have a cost and - especially on council budget night - those costs should be specified and accounted for.