The Bendigo Advertiser carried an article today in which City of Greater Bendigo Mayor, Cr. Peter Cox stated he wanted Bendigo Council to operate with greater efficiency, to which we can only say, “Hear, hear”.
BENDIGO Mayor Peter Cox wants the executive arm of the council to be more efficient and have a lesser say on the council’s finances.
Cr Cox said City of Greater Bendigo employee wages had blown out and executives took too long to complete projects.
“I see things happening in local government that a normal business would not agree with – there are practices in local government that would not be acceptable in the general running of a business,” he said.
“It takes too long to bring out change – I want the issues dealt with in a speedier fashion.”
Mayor Cox could well be speaking about many councils in the entire country. Our experience with Mount Alexander Shire Council suggests they should be first in line to follow Mayor Cox’s suggestions.
He said the City of Greater Bendigo’s annual employee costs had risen by eight per cent last financial year, bringing the total to $54 million.
“We have to ask ourselves if that’s sustainable,” he said.
Ratepayers will undoubtedly be asking what value they receive for this $54 million. The same may be said for Mount Alexander Shire; our rates and employee costs rise every year, but ratepayers see little if any benefit, the only benefit seeming to be in the pockets of shire employees.
Cr Cox said the council’s Waste and Resource Management Strategy adopted three years ago was an example of a project that had taken too long to complete.
“We haven’t actually changed anything at this point in time – I get a little frustrated when it takes that long,” he said.
No surprises there. How many projects in Mount Alexander have languished for years, yet to be completed. One of the worst examples must surely be the Vaughn-Tarilta Bridge. This bridge – vital to a small local community in Vaughn – was in need of repair back in 2010 when Council allocated $408,000 for the repairs. Five years later the bridge has not only not been repaired, it has now been closed and the $408,000 has, er, well, we’re not quite sure what’s happened to the money. It was legitimately redirected to emergency works on a fire-damaged bridge, but was supposed to be still available to repair the Tarilta Bridge.
Many questions remain over the Tarilta Bridge, and it will be the subject of a lengthy article in the near future.
In the mean time, Mayor Cox’s suggestions that council administrations should become more efficient, lower their salary costs and allow councillors more control over finances seems like a good idea.
Are you listening, Mount Alexander Shire Council?
No, we didn’t think so, either.