December 2016 Council Meeting Agenda
I sometimes wonder why I post reports on Council meetings. Sometimes.
I notice that amongst my posts on Facebook, my posts on Council meetings are amongst the least read, with posts on missing dogs being more popular. Then again, dogs are important. That’s why I provided a pets’ page for people to post their pet stories on my website.
However, I am encouraged by my fellow ward Councillor, Matt Osborn’s, regular entreaties as to my next Council post, which leads me to the conclusion he is really keen to see my thoughts on the next Council meeting, or he just wants me to waste my time, or perhaps both.
So, here they are again, my thoughts on the items most relevant to Northfield Ward at the December 12th 2016 meeting of Council:
ITEM 12.1.3 Dolly Parton Imagination Library
The Dolly Parton Imagination Library may sound quite odd as the title of a Council report – okay, it does – but apart from her two most well known assets, being her singing and songwriting, Dolly Parton is also an amazing philanthropist and helped develop a program to assist with early literacy learning in the USA, which is now extended to many countries.
Even though staff have recommended a small pilot study in Parks Ward, I am hopeful that this scheme whereby children seen to be ‘at risk’ of literacy deprivation, are provided with one book per month until they start attending school, can be expanded across the Council.
ITEM 12.3.2 Rates Rebates Applicable to Vacant Land
For many years, I have been trying to change this policy to make it fairer for those caught up in paying double for their rates as they own vacant land for residential purposes but cannot develop it for reasons out of their control.
I voted for, and fully supported, this policy when it first came in to the City of Enfield back in 1992, when land speculation was still common in the eastern part of the Council, so doubling the rates on vacant land seemed a good idea to, if not stop the practice, at least, tax it for some community benefit.
The problem became apparent when greenfields sites such as Oakden were opened up and hundreds of land holders were hit with this double rating on their property (including me on my first home in Oakden), yet were not in the least bit part of the land speculation brigade. The policy was a very blunt instrument and innocent people were being hurt by it.
I failed in 1996 to have it amended when the amalgamated Council voted to begin the practice, and I have been trying every few years since. The former CEO was intransigent on the issue, dismissing concerns and telling Council that amending the policy to hit the land speculators but sparing the innocent land holders was “too hard”. Unfortunately in all those years I could not convince enough of my fellow elected members of the benefits of amending the rates policy on vacant land to be fairer. Until now.
This year I pounced on the opportunity to try again, and in July I was successful in having a report commissioned into how to make the policy not apply for the first twelve months of ownership of land proposed for residential purposes.
Staff have now brought back a report with an excellent way of achieving this via a rate rebate which is administratively simple and fair way to land owners previously caught up in this unfair practice.
ITEM 12.3.7 Automatic Property Franchise Voting Entitlement
I was once a fan of property owners having automatic rights to be on the Council electoral roll.
Not any more.
Even though only a fraction used to vote, it was still I thought, only fair that ALL ratepayers have this right, after the State Government in 2009 changed this to require property owners to register annually to remain on the Council roll.
I changed my mind after I saw the costs involved. We are talking around half a million dollars for Council to keep this roll up to date at general elections and for the number of electors who vote this way, this is incredibly expensive, and simply unjustifiable.
Now it seems the Local Government Association is pushing to reinstate the automatic franchise to property owners (I sometimes wonder whose side they are on) which is not, I think, one of the more pressing issues with which we have to deal.
If you are a property owner, I think it is fair you have to fill out a simple form once every few years if you want to vote at a Council election – that I can cope with, after all, ‘normal’ electors who are residents have to complete a new form every time we move home, which can be several times in some people’s lifetimes (I am in my 21st home at 50 years of age) and that form is more complex than the one used for property owners.
What do you think? Or do you care as much as most do?
ITEM 12.3.14 Events Grants Summary Report
Council has a problem in that it has already spent its Events Grants Budget for the Financial Year so the only way to consider other events was to refer them to the Council meeting to endorse the additional spending.
Council tonight will consider 20 applications, 14 recommended for funding and 6 not, on top of the 13 already granted funding at the Grants Committee meeting back in November.
Of the 14 recommended for funding, only two are located this side of town, both at Klemzig Reserve, and I won’t be able to vote on them due to conflicts of interest (one I am on the organising committee, and the other I am very close friends to the organisers).
I am interested to see whether the two our side of town may have some elements of Council trying to stop the events, relocate them or otherwise lower the amounts recommended for grant approval. If this happens, it will show who does and does not care for promoting events in all areas of the Council, not just in the Port.
ITEM 12.3.36 Elector Representation Review – Preparation of Final Report
The above final draft underwent its second round of community consultation recently and received a ripping ZERO submissions. So, Council, I would expect, shall send this off to the Minister for Local Government for rubber stamping.
The changes for Northfield Ward? None. Good.
ITEM 14.2 Notice of Motion – Dog Parks
I have submitted a Notice of Motion for Council to put aside money in the next budget to construct 3 dog parks across the Council, subject to Council staff investigations as to locations (already occurring).
ITEM 14.3 Notice of Motion – Briens Road
I have submitted a Notice of Motion for Council to investigate fixing the Council owned retaining walls on Briens Road, Northfield, and to do so in the next Financial Year if possible; and to pave this part of Briens Road, subject to if and when the work is done on the above retaining walls.
If you really want to read the whole agenda (and you are welcome to), here is the link:
Any comments on the above? Tell me below!