Hello again, so soon…
Firstly, here is the web link to Council’s agenda for its June 9th meeting, if you want to read all 361 pages of it:
Below I have cherry picked the items I believe are most relevant to Northfield Ward for your reading pleasure, with my slant on them:
12.2.3 PARKING CONTROL, BEAUMONT STREET, NORTHFIELD
This is a new street squeezed in south of Folland Avenue, Northfield, next to the Leukaemia Foundation and the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre which needs some limits on parking to allow more flexibility for visitors to the LF premises.
12.3.1 REVIEW OF THE CITY PLAN 2010-2016 AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE NEW CITY PLAN
Not only does each Council have to have a City Plan by law in the Local Government Act 1999 but it is also just plain good sense for an organisation to plan its future on who we are, what do we want to do, and how do we go about doing it?
This will be the 5th time I will have been involved helping create a City Plan for Council and on this occasion I am going to do my best to ensure better community participation in it than has gone before.
12.3.2 PROPOSED RENAMING OF PORTIONS OF NORTHGATE, NORTHFIELD AND GREENACRES TO LIGHTSVIEW
This topic is so big I have devoted a whole webpage to it on my website which you can check for up to date details: http://markbasham.com.au/lightsview/
12.3.3 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT – NORTHERN ECONOMIC LEADERS INVITATION
Due to the odd shape of our Council, we seem to be sort of in, or sort of out, of various quasi-governmental regional metropolitan organisations which are designed to help various parts of Adelaide.
We are usually lumped in with the Western Region for most things, we are never included in the North Eastern Region for anything I can think of, and I don’t know of any Inner Northern group for anything (I guess that would be for Prospect and Walkerville) but fortunately we have been accepted into this group which is very exciting.
Economic Development has been a key imperative of mine, and despite being opposed for the past four years by Council management in trying to create a portfolio in our Council for it, I am pleased to say the Acting CEO agreed with me now that we needed to move on this and thankfully the State Government is putting in a lot of effort (no doubt due to imminent closure of Holden) into this and wants to include both our Council and businesses in our Council area too.
12.3.5 BY-LAW REVIEW – UPDATE
Council has completed public consultation with its proposed new (and old) By-Laws last week and a further report will be made available on its results.
12.3.6 STATE GOVERNMENT REVIEW OF TAXATION SYSTEM – LGA SUBMISSION
Pretty much as the title says. Councils are legally very restricted in how we collect revenue and most would like to be allowed to collect it in different ways or use different methods, or at least have a discussion about how we can do it differently. Is there a better way than rates on improved property value?
The reason people are more aware of Council rates than other taxes is simple: most taxes are hidden or payable upfront so the taxpayer never sees the money they pay as tax – eg PAYG tax comes out of your salary – you never see it to pay it; and over half of the cost of petrol goes in tax but as you’re handing over the total cost at the service station, you don’t think about paying tax.
With Council rates, we send you a bill four times a year so you get it rubbed in your face!
Did you know that of every dollar Australia pays in tax, only 3.4 cents of it is to a local Council?
Think about that the next time The Advertiser runs a big story on how Councils are slugging you big. Oh, that would be today. Again. Ahem.
12.3.11 AMALGAMATION OF COUNCIL POLICIES – PUBLIC INTEGRITY AND PRIVACY
Due to the sometimes bewildering and massive changes by the State Government on public integrity requirements for local government, the above two policies are being radically changed and combined.
My suggestion will be to add that Councillors are provided (confidentially) with a copy of formal complaints, and their progress, lodged by Council residents and ratepayers on a monthly basis, in order to assess Council’s ongoing commitment to improvement of its complaint handling practices and procedures.
12.3.19 PENSIONER CONCESSION ON COUNCIL RATES
I thought this matter had been put to bed with the announcement by the State Government that it would replace the old State Government Pensioner Rates Rebate with an annual ‘Cost of Living Concession’ to Pensioners etc. – but I was wrong.
Our Council gave an additional rebate to pensioners of our own for the past three years (thanks to Cr Iammarrone who came up with the idea) which amounted $57 per rateable property, but is now in jeopardy as the State Government’s Department of Communities and Social Inclusion (DCSI) will no longer hand over the details of eligible people after June 30th this year.
So, what do we do?
I am sure we can pay the rebate on details provided as of June 30th for next financial year but after that?
Do we stop the rebate altogether?
Do we continue it but have to spend an unknown figure (I have been told around $150,000) per annum to have our own database of eligible persons?
I am not aware of the reasons the DCSI will/can no longer provide the data to local government as I understand they are still collecting it to administer the State Government’s scheme, so unless they are just being complete bastards, surely we can work something out?
I will be amending staff’s recommendation so that we write to the State Government to ask nicely if we can continue to receive the data so we can continue to provide this rebate for pensioners. What do you think?
12.4.3 LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION – LEGAL SERVICES PILOT PROGRAM
This is arguably the (unintentionally) funniest staff report I have read in all my years.
What it boils down to is that the Local Government Association (LGA) has since late 2013 made available a lawyer for Councils to access at a much cheaper rate than normal rates for local government lawyers. That’s not funny you say, but wait for it…
I quote from our staff’s report:
The Program is restrictive in that it does not extend to regulatory services, litigation representation and strategy, property/commercial matters, employment/Human Resource Management matters or development advice. It also has limited application to rating matters.
Inquiries made for the purposes of this Report resulted in the following feedback:
1. Metropolitan councils are not using the Program, preferring instead to seek legal advice from legal firms with strong local government expertise.
2. Very few country councils are using the Program and those that do also continue to access their own lawyers for other than very low complexity legal matters.
3. The sole practitioner operating the Program three days a week does not have broad experience in rating matters and as such refers councils to their own legal advisors.
4. The sole practitioner in the role has limited local government expertise when compared to Adelaide legal practices that provide high level local government legal services.
5. The original intention of the Program was that the service was to be only on a verbal basis, hence the low hourly rate – written advice was not to be provided.
6. Verbal legal advice is less robust from a risk management perspective.
7. There are unresolved issues with Legal Professional Privilege and client confidentiality given the LGA/client (council) relationship.
Perhaps needless to say, our Council is not using this scheme, and it appears not too many other Councils are either.
As to why the LGA persists with this scheme, I am sure they will tell me on Twitter, and if they do I shall post it on this or the next post so we all know.
ITEM 14.4 NOTICE OF MOTION – COUNCIL WORKSHOPS – CR BASHAM
My motion –
“That creating a Council workshop can only be done if approved by Council at a meeting of Council.”
is so that elected members can control the calling of workshops and not leave it to staff.
The reason I have done this is that workshops, which are effectively where Council staff and/or other expert persons in an area give a presentation and usually there is an informal discussion about the matter, are being booked in with us at an alarming rate, and I am not convinced all of them are necessary, compared to just receiving a written report on a matter.
Therefore, I believe it is necessary for Councillors to take control of this again and choose which ones we believe are necessary as workshops, or not, also considering there is also a cost to Council for catering and staff overtime for most workshops.
In case you asked, since the Council election last November there has been 19 workshops on various matters – and that is on top of the Meetings, Special Meetings, Committees, Citizenship Ceremonies and what not. In that time I have missed only one workshop.
ITEM 14.5 NOTICE OF MOTION – TRUE NORTH THEATRE ENSEMBLE – CR MARTIN
Cr Martin is looking for Council to enter a MOU to fund this excellent theatre company, whose principals, Alirio & Juliette Zavarce, reside in Northgate, and who present theatre workshops locally in Hillcrest – more here: http://truenorthyouththeatreensemble.com.au/
I believe that Council needs to change its community development focus from handing out small grants to community organisations for one off projects, to one where we foster long term relationships with community groups to make a real difference in people’s lives and who reflect Council’s principles and goals.
With artists, I believe we need to also foster long term relationships with local artists so we can have a thriving local arts community based on creativity and give deserving artists some security to allow them to foster their work.
That’s it for now, feel free to add some feedback below. Next post will be later in the week after the Council meeting.