Robert Doyle: What would you remove from the budget?

Melbourne’s Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, at last night’s Special Council meeting, asked “what would you remove from the Council’s budget to save money?”

Listen here (15min)

I would scrape the Lord Mayor’s Limo (Something Robert said he would do but hasn’t)

They could also scrape Lord Mayor’s Free Booze Bar, Free Councillor Car Parking and Staff Overseas Junkets.
 
“There is a $10.5 million shortfall in parking revenue basically caused by compliance, people are following the rules so our projected fines did not reach what we thought we were going to get,” Robert Doyle

Doyle axes LM001 Driver

It has taken over 10 years but Melbourne City Council has finally axed the Lord Mayor’s Limo driver. Introduced by disgraced one term Lord Mayor Ivan Deveson.

The City Council went to extraordinary steps to prevent the disclosure of costs associated with the Lord Mayors Limousine and it was only recently thanks to ex City Councillor Fiona Snedden that the costs were finally accounted for in the City Councillor Expense Statements.

The reports in the Melbourne Leader have not made mention of the City Council funded Deputy Lord Mayor’s Car which does not have a driver but never the less cost rate payers 10,000 of dollars.

Doyle axes LM001 Driver

It has taken over 10 years but Melbourne City Council has finally axed the Lord Mayor’s Limo driver. Introduced by disgraced one term Lord Mayor Ivan Deveson.

The City Council went to extraordinary steps to prevent the disclosure of costs associated with the Lord Mayors Limousine and it was only recently thanks to ex City Councillor Fiona Snedden that the costs were finally accounted for in the City Councillor Expense Statements.

The reports in the Melbourne Leader have not made mention of the City Council funded Deputy Lord Mayor’s Car which does not have a driver but never the less cost rate payers 10,000 of dollars.

Doyle axes LM001 Driver

It has taken over 10 years but Melbourne City Council has finally axed the Lord Mayor’s Limo driver. Introduced by disgraced one term Lord Mayor Ivan Deveson.

The City Council went to extraordinary steps to prevent the disclosure of costs associated with the Lord Mayors Limousine and it was only recently thanks to ex City Councillor Fiona Snedden that the costs were finally accounted for in the City Councillor Expense Statements.

The reports in the Melbourne Leader have not made mention of the City Council funded Deputy Lord Mayor’s Car which does not have a driver but never the less cost rate payers 10,000 of dollars.

Scrap the Limos Budget Cuts driving your dollar further

The Editorial in the Herald Sun ends with a very very good idea in how to save on the City Council’s Budget…. John So can save over $250,000 dollars in annual costs just by Scraping the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor’s Limos …. Great idea.

Not so marvellous
Herald Sun May 24, 2007 12:00am
Editorial

GOLD rushes aside, Melbourne has rarely been as marvellous as it is now.

Pulsing with life, it’s attracting visitors and new inhabitants in growing numbers. So why are the city’s finances in such disarray?

Melbourne City Council, which in the coming year will pocket almost $300 million from its various revenue streams, is in financial difficulties. It faces a budget deficit of more than $4 million and is searching for ways to fill the black hole.

The process will play out behind closed doors, but already council has flagged one measure: extending parking meter hours to 7.30pm weekdays and adding Saturday afternoons.

That ought to do wonders for one of the reasons cited for the revenue shortfall – fewer drivers coming to the city because of rising petrol prices.

Chief executive David Pitchford says cost reduction could include job cutting. But, curiously, the Herald Sun has learned that the council is actually putting on staff.

Here’s another potential starting point: Lord Mayor John So should consider parting with the Lord Mayoral limo which is estimated to cost $100,000 a year. Or else park it at one of his meters.

Scrap the Limos Budget Cuts driving your dollar further

The Editorial in the Herald Sun ends with a very very good idea in how to save on the City Council’s Budget…. John So can save over $250,000 dollars in annual costs just by Scraping the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor’s Limos …. Great idea.

Not so marvellous
Herald Sun May 24, 2007 12:00am
Editorial

GOLD rushes aside, Melbourne has rarely been as marvellous as it is now.

Pulsing with life, it’s attracting visitors and new inhabitants in growing numbers. So why are the city’s finances in such disarray?

Melbourne City Council, which in the coming year will pocket almost $300 million from its various revenue streams, is in financial difficulties. It faces a budget deficit of more than $4 million and is searching for ways to fill the black hole.

The process will play out behind closed doors, but already council has flagged one measure: extending parking meter hours to 7.30pm weekdays and adding Saturday afternoons.

That ought to do wonders for one of the reasons cited for the revenue shortfall – fewer drivers coming to the city because of rising petrol prices.

Chief executive David Pitchford says cost reduction could include job cutting. But, curiously, the Herald Sun has learned that the council is actually putting on staff.

Here’s another potential starting point: Lord Mayor John So should consider parting with the Lord Mayoral limo which is estimated to cost $100,000 a year. Or else park it at one of his meters.

Scrap the Limos Budget Cuts driving your dollar further

The Editorial in the Herald Sun ends with a very very good idea in how to save on the City Council’s Budget…. John So can save over $250,000 dollars in annual costs just by Scraping the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor’s Limos …. Great idea.

Not so marvellous
Herald Sun May 24, 2007 12:00am
Editorial

GOLD rushes aside, Melbourne has rarely been as marvellous as it is now.

Pulsing with life, it’s attracting visitors and new inhabitants in growing numbers. So why are the city’s finances in such disarray?

Melbourne City Council, which in the coming year will pocket almost $300 million from its various revenue streams, is in financial difficulties. It faces a budget deficit of more than $4 million and is searching for ways to fill the black hole.

The process will play out behind closed doors, but already council has flagged one measure: extending parking meter hours to 7.30pm weekdays and adding Saturday afternoons.

That ought to do wonders for one of the reasons cited for the revenue shortfall – fewer drivers coming to the city because of rising petrol prices.

Chief executive David Pitchford says cost reduction could include job cutting. But, curiously, the Herald Sun has learned that the council is actually putting on staff.

Here’s another potential starting point: Lord Mayor John So should consider parting with the Lord Mayoral limo which is estimated to cost $100,000 a year. Or else park it at one of his meters.

Training Snedden Billy’s daughter gets Council to fund party politics

The Age today has reported that Liberal Party Councillor Fiona Sneden coaching lessons. State MP Louise Asher’s former chief of Staff, Brett Barton, was paid $5,600 to advise Cr Sneden. Councillor Sneden’s expenses were made known following publication of the the City of Melbourne’s Councillor expense.

Missing from the councillor expense statements are costs related to Councillor’s allowances and additional expenses that the council has not disclosed. Creative accounting and hidden costs are an art form when it comes to the corrupt Council administration.

It appears that the Council administration, having been caught out, has gone back and modified past expense statements to include expenses that were not previously reported. Under Council guidelines all expenses should be finalised “acquitted” within one month of the expenses occurring. review of the published statements indicate that the summary results published by the City Council are false and incorrect. (It looks as though the Council Goverance/Finance department can not add up correctly).

Questions are still outstanding with the Council administration filing to respond to previous correspondence highlighting a number of issues identified in relation to the accuracy of Council’s expense and travel statements.

Last year the City Council was subject to an Ombudsman investigation that showed up similar problems in relational to the City Councils accounting and administration. A number of Council staff reigned and or were allocated alternative employment following the Ombudsman inquiry. Former City Council’s Legal Officer Alison Lyon resigned and Linda Weatherson as been removed from her role as Council governance director. Ms Weatherson was implicated in the “Acquittal” scandal related to a previous cover-up of undisclosed Councillor expense in 2003.

Despite promises made by the City Councillors, Melbourne’s City Council’s “Car Fee City policy”, costs related to John So and Gary Singers Council funded Limousines still do not appear in the Councillor expense statements.

It is estimated that the associated missing costs adds around $2,500,00 per year to the costs of servicing our City fathers and daughters. Including in this estimate is the costs of Internal catering and the Council’s free open booze bar, the later which the Age reported as possibly contributing to Cr Sneden’s $1,000 in fines and a loss of her driving licence for 4 years.

Responsible Governance – No Way.

The above graph shows consolidated reported Councillor’s expenses for the mid term of the current Council Dec 2004 to Dec 2006 (Including the adjustments made to the ‘dodgy’ July to October 2006 statements)


City council paid Liberal staffer $5600 to mentor Cr Sneden
February 2, 2007
Source: The Age

MELBOURNE City Council has paid $5600 for Liberal Party blue-blood Fiona Sneden to receive mentoring from a Liberal Party strategist.

The payments, of around $220 a week over the past six months, were paid to Brett Barton, former chief of staff to Liberal MP Louise Asher.

Cr Sneden last night defended the use of ratepayers’ money to pay for professional mentoring, saying it was about getting better results for the council, not personal improvement.

“Professional mentoring is all about me being better prepared to deal with issues that face my constituents,” Cr Sneden said.

Cr Sneden said Mr Barton provided her with “leadership coaching”, not counselling.

“The coaching means understanding and how to deal with aspects of council. It means basically anything that I need mentoring for.

“I have a part-time secretary but I felt that there was not the support or the mentoring that was required,” said Cr Sneden, who argued that councillors at the City of Melbourne were not adequately supported.

“It is considered part-time employment and Town Hall does not provide any expert advice.”

Her adviser Mr Barton has worked for several high-profile Liberals, most recently Liberal major projects spokesman David Davis, in the lead-up to last year’s state election.

Mr Barton could not be reached for comment last night. But Louise Asher said Mr Barton was an experienced adviser with “a good political nose”.

A list of councillor expenses released by Melbourne City Council this week also revealed that, in 2006, Cr Sneden claimed $35,072 in expenses — $20,000 more than any of eight other Melbourne councillors over the same period.

Former lord mayor Kevin Chamberlin said it was a disgrace that the city council was paying for its elected representatives to be trained to be more effective councillors.

“This is a direct result of the election system put in place by the Bracks Government that was deliberately designed to get elected poor quality councillors,” Mr Chamberlin said. “The constituents have well and truly been paying for it for a long time, and not just in money.”

Cr Sneden, 50, is the daughter of former federal Liberal leader Sir Billy Sneden.

Last year she pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court to drink driving.

She was fined $1000 and lost her licence for four years.

Training Snedden Billy’s daughter gets Council to fund party politics

The Age today has reported that Liberal Party Councillor Fiona Sneden coaching lessons. State MP Louise Asher’s former chief of Staff, Brett Barton, was paid $5,600 to advise Cr Sneden. Councillor Sneden’s expenses were made known following publication of the the City of Melbourne’s Councillor expense.

Missing from the councillor expense statements are costs related to Councillor’s allowances and additional expenses that the council has not disclosed. Creative accounting and hidden costs are an art form when it comes to the corrupt Council administration.

It appears that the Council administration, having been caught out, has gone back and modified past expense statements to include expenses that were not previously reported. Under Council guidelines all expenses should be finalised “acquitted” within one month of the expenses occurring. review of the published statements indicate that the summary results published by the City Council are false and incorrect. (It looks as though the Council Goverance/Finance department can not add up correctly).

Questions are still outstanding with the Council administration filing to respond to previous correspondence highlighting a number of issues identified in relation to the accuracy of Council’s expense and travel statements.

Last year the City Council was subject to an Ombudsman investigation that showed up similar problems in relational to the City Councils accounting and administration. A number of Council staff reigned and or were allocated alternative employment following the Ombudsman inquiry. Former City Council’s Legal Officer Alison Lyon resigned and Linda Weatherson as been removed from her role as Council governance director. Ms Weatherson was implicated in the “Acquittal” scandal related to a previous cover-up of undisclosed Councillor expense in 2003.

Despite promises made by the City Councillors, Melbourne’s City Council’s “Car Fee City policy”, costs related to John So and Gary Singers Council funded Limousines still do not appear in the Councillor expense statements.

It is estimated that the associated missing costs adds around $2,500,00 per year to the costs of servicing our City fathers and daughters. Including in this estimate is the costs of Internal catering and the Council’s free open booze bar, the later which the Age reported as possibly contributing to Cr Sneden’s $1,000 in fines and a loss of her driving licence for 4 years.

Responsible Governance – No Way.

The above graph shows consolidated reported Councillor’s expenses for the mid term of the current Council Dec 2004 to Dec 2006 (Including the adjustments made to the ‘dodgy’ July to October 2006 statements)


City council paid Liberal staffer $5600 to mentor Cr Sneden
February 2, 2007
Source: The Age

MELBOURNE City Council has paid $5600 for Liberal Party blue-blood Fiona Sneden to receive mentoring from a Liberal Party strategist.

The payments, of around $220 a week over the past six months, were paid to Brett Barton, former chief of staff to Liberal MP Louise Asher.

Cr Sneden last night defended the use of ratepayers’ money to pay for professional mentoring, saying it was about getting better results for the council, not personal improvement.

“Professional mentoring is all about me being better prepared to deal with issues that face my constituents,” Cr Sneden said.

Cr Sneden said Mr Barton provided her with “leadership coaching”, not counselling.

“The coaching means understanding and how to deal with aspects of council. It means basically anything that I need mentoring for.

“I have a part-time secretary but I felt that there was not the support or the mentoring that was required,” said Cr Sneden, who argued that councillors at the City of Melbourne were not adequately supported.

“It is considered part-time employment and Town Hall does not provide any expert advice.”

Her adviser Mr Barton has worked for several high-profile Liberals, most recently Liberal major projects spokesman David Davis, in the lead-up to last year’s state election.

Mr Barton could not be reached for comment last night. But Louise Asher said Mr Barton was an experienced adviser with “a good political nose”.

A list of councillor expenses released by Melbourne City Council this week also revealed that, in 2006, Cr Sneden claimed $35,072 in expenses — $20,000 more than any of eight other Melbourne councillors over the same period.

Former lord mayor Kevin Chamberlin said it was a disgrace that the city council was paying for its elected representatives to be trained to be more effective councillors.

“This is a direct result of the election system put in place by the Bracks Government that was deliberately designed to get elected poor quality councillors,” Mr Chamberlin said. “The constituents have well and truly been paying for it for a long time, and not just in money.”

Cr Sneden, 50, is the daughter of former federal Liberal leader Sir Billy Sneden.

Last year she pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court to drink driving.

She was fined $1000 and lost her licence for four years.

Training Snedden Billy’s daughter gets Council to fund party politics

The Age today has reported that Liberal Party Councillor Fiona Sneden coaching lessons. State MP Louise Asher’s former chief of Staff, Brett Barton, was paid $5,600 to advise Cr Sneden. Councillor Sneden’s expenses were made known following publication of the the City of Melbourne’s Councillor expense.

Missing from the councillor expense statements are costs related to Councillor’s allowances and additional expenses that the council has not disclosed. Creative accounting and hidden costs are an art form when it comes to the corrupt Council administration.

It appears that the Council administration, having been caught out, has gone back and modified past expense statements to include expenses that were not previously reported. Under Council guidelines all expenses should be finalised “acquitted” within one month of the expenses occurring. review of the published statements indicate that the summary results published by the City Council are false and incorrect. (It looks as though the Council Goverance/Finance department can not add up correctly).

Questions are still outstanding with the Council administration filing to respond to previous correspondence highlighting a number of issues identified in relation to the accuracy of Council’s expense and travel statements.

Last year the City Council was subject to an Ombudsman investigation that showed up similar problems in relational to the City Councils accounting and administration. A number of Council staff reigned and or were allocated alternative employment following the Ombudsman inquiry. Former City Council’s Legal Officer Alison Lyon resigned and Linda Weatherson as been removed from her role as Council governance director. Ms Weatherson was implicated in the “Acquittal” scandal related to a previous cover-up of undisclosed Councillor expense in 2003.

Despite promises made by the City Councillors, Melbourne’s City Council’s “Car Fee City policy”, costs related to John So and Gary Singers Council funded Limousines still do not appear in the Councillor expense statements.

It is estimated that the associated missing costs adds around $2,500,00 per year to the costs of servicing our City fathers and daughters. Including in this estimate is the costs of Internal catering and the Council’s free open booze bar, the later which the Age reported as possibly contributing to Cr Sneden’s $1,000 in fines and a loss of her driving licence for 4 years.

Responsible Governance – No Way.

The above graph shows consolidated reported Councillor’s expenses for the mid term of the current Council Dec 2004 to Dec 2006 (Including the adjustments made to the ‘dodgy’ July to October 2006 statements)


City council paid Liberal staffer $5600 to mentor Cr Sneden
February 2, 2007
Source: The Age

MELBOURNE City Council has paid $5600 for Liberal Party blue-blood Fiona Sneden to receive mentoring from a Liberal Party strategist.

The payments, of around $220 a week over the past six months, were paid to Brett Barton, former chief of staff to Liberal MP Louise Asher.

Cr Sneden last night defended the use of ratepayers’ money to pay for professional mentoring, saying it was about getting better results for the council, not personal improvement.

“Professional mentoring is all about me being better prepared to deal with issues that face my constituents,” Cr Sneden said.

Cr Sneden said Mr Barton provided her with “leadership coaching”, not counselling.

“The coaching means understanding and how to deal with aspects of council. It means basically anything that I need mentoring for.

“I have a part-time secretary but I felt that there was not the support or the mentoring that was required,” said Cr Sneden, who argued that councillors at the City of Melbourne were not adequately supported.

“It is considered part-time employment and Town Hall does not provide any expert advice.”

Her adviser Mr Barton has worked for several high-profile Liberals, most recently Liberal major projects spokesman David Davis, in the lead-up to last year’s state election.

Mr Barton could not be reached for comment last night. But Louise Asher said Mr Barton was an experienced adviser with “a good political nose”.

A list of councillor expenses released by Melbourne City Council this week also revealed that, in 2006, Cr Sneden claimed $35,072 in expenses — $20,000 more than any of eight other Melbourne councillors over the same period.

Former lord mayor Kevin Chamberlin said it was a disgrace that the city council was paying for its elected representatives to be trained to be more effective councillors.

“This is a direct result of the election system put in place by the Bracks Government that was deliberately designed to get elected poor quality councillors,” Mr Chamberlin said. “The constituents have well and truly been paying for it for a long time, and not just in money.”

Cr Sneden, 50, is the daughter of former federal Liberal leader Sir Billy Sneden.

Last year she pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court to drink driving.

She was fined $1000 and lost her licence for four years.

Cash grab City Council milks the community for more cash to fund benefits

Melbourne city Council is looking at increasing its revenue base above and beyond inflation. Property values have increased above the cost of inflation and as such Melbourne City Council gains a windfall from the property boom. Melbourne City Council’s rates are tied to property valuations (NAV) increased values means more cash.

John So and his term continue to demonstrate that they are not in control of the Council’s finances with the administration being handed a blank check no questions asked.

Missing still is the breakdown of the details costs of Council administration. the true costs of international travel, internal catering, the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayors limousines. The administration refusing to disclose or provide a breakdown of these costs.

It has been nearly six months since we requested this information and still no response from Linda Weatherspoon or the Lord Mayor.

The Herald-sun continues to expose the issues, reviews and analysis of the City Councils budget and expenditure – today’s article is no exception as the gloss of John So’s Commonwealth Games glory begins to fade.

Traders vent meter anger
Jen Kelly, city editor
26may06

CHILD care, meals on wheels and baby capsule hire are among hundreds of services to jump in cost from July 1 in a Melbourne City Council cash grab.

The new revenue-raising plans revealed in yesterday’s budget are on top of new parking meters to be installed along Lygon St, Carlton.
Furious Lygon St traders vented their anger at a council budget meeting yesterday.

One distressed Carlton resident disrupted the meeting with a noisy outburst.

Traders stormed out after a move to delay installation of meters pending further community consultation was voted down by the council.

Fees and charges are expected to earn an extra $5.9 million next year. In the most extreme fee jump, meeting room hire at North Melbourne Town Hall will soar by a whopping 223 per cent from $170 to $550 a day.

Meals on wheels will jump 12.5 per cent to $4.50 a meal, occasional child care will rise 5.6 per cent to $9.50 an hour, and baby capsule hire will increase 5.6 per cent to $38.

Immunisations, pet registration, building red tape, food safety training, pool memberships and kerbside cafes will all cost more.

A controversial proposal to install parking meters at the Melbourne Zoo car park to help fund an upgrade of the parking area is on the backburner after it was voted down yesterday.

The council predicts an operating surplus for 2006-7 of $13.5 million — but to achieve that will gouge $24.9 million out of its $112 million investment reserve.

Former lord mayor and former chairman of the finance committee Kevin Chamberlin last night said the budget contained huge cuts to services.

“It now appears the chickens are coming home to roost for John So,” he said.

“The budget includes massive cuts, substantial fee increases and an unprecedented drawing from the council’s cash reserves.

“The rates increase of 3.8 per cent is twice the average of previous years and indicates that rates will increase significantly over the next three years.”

The $24.9 million drawn from the council’s reserves will help pay to finish building Council House 2, or CH2, and other capital projects.

Lord Mayor John So said the 3.8 per cent rate rise was moderate, and services for ratepayers, residents, workers, students and visitors had been increased.

“We are spending more on community services, more on roads and infrastructure and more on parks and gardens,” he said.

A bid by Cr Peter Clarke to reduce funding for the FINA World Swimming Championships at Rod Laver Arena next year from $1 million to about $250,000 failed.

Total budget revenue is expected to be $263.7 million, up from $243 million this financial year, including $138 million in rates.

The latest budget predictions show the council expects to reap a record $32.1 million in parking fees and $31.8 million in parking fines — a $64 million total.

Cash grab City Council milks the community for more cash to fund benefits

Melbourne city Council is looking at increasing its revenue base above and beyond inflation. Property values have increased above the cost of inflation and as such Melbourne City Council gains a windfall from the property boom. Melbourne City Council’s rates are tied to property valuations (NAV) increased values means more cash.

John So and his term continue to demonstrate that they are not in control of the Council’s finances with the administration being handed a blank check no questions asked.

Missing still is the breakdown of the details costs of Council administration. the true costs of international travel, internal catering, the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayors limousines. The administration refusing to disclose or provide a breakdown of these costs.

It has been nearly six months since we requested this information and still no response from Linda Weatherspoon or the Lord Mayor.

The Herald-sun continues to expose the issues, reviews and analysis of the City Councils budget and expenditure – today’s article is no exception as the gloss of John So’s Commonwealth Games glory begins to fade.

Traders vent meter anger
Jen Kelly, city editor
26may06

CHILD care, meals on wheels and baby capsule hire are among hundreds of services to jump in cost from July 1 in a Melbourne City Council cash grab.

The new revenue-raising plans revealed in yesterday’s budget are on top of new parking meters to be installed along Lygon St, Carlton.
Furious Lygon St traders vented their anger at a council budget meeting yesterday.

One distressed Carlton resident disrupted the meeting with a noisy outburst.

Traders stormed out after a move to delay installation of meters pending further community consultation was voted down by the council.

Fees and charges are expected to earn an extra $5.9 million next year. In the most extreme fee jump, meeting room hire at North Melbourne Town Hall will soar by a whopping 223 per cent from $170 to $550 a day.

Meals on wheels will jump 12.5 per cent to $4.50 a meal, occasional child care will rise 5.6 per cent to $9.50 an hour, and baby capsule hire will increase 5.6 per cent to $38.

Immunisations, pet registration, building red tape, food safety training, pool memberships and kerbside cafes will all cost more.

A controversial proposal to install parking meters at the Melbourne Zoo car park to help fund an upgrade of the parking area is on the backburner after it was voted down yesterday.

The council predicts an operating surplus for 2006-7 of $13.5 million — but to achieve that will gouge $24.9 million out of its $112 million investment reserve.

Former lord mayor and former chairman of the finance committee Kevin Chamberlin last night said the budget contained huge cuts to services.

“It now appears the chickens are coming home to roost for John So,” he said.

“The budget includes massive cuts, substantial fee increases and an unprecedented drawing from the council’s cash reserves.

“The rates increase of 3.8 per cent is twice the average of previous years and indicates that rates will increase significantly over the next three years.”

The $24.9 million drawn from the council’s reserves will help pay to finish building Council House 2, or CH2, and other capital projects.

Lord Mayor John So said the 3.8 per cent rate rise was moderate, and services for ratepayers, residents, workers, students and visitors had been increased.

“We are spending more on community services, more on roads and infrastructure and more on parks and gardens,” he said.

A bid by Cr Peter Clarke to reduce funding for the FINA World Swimming Championships at Rod Laver Arena next year from $1 million to about $250,000 failed.

Total budget revenue is expected to be $263.7 million, up from $243 million this financial year, including $138 million in rates.

The latest budget predictions show the council expects to reap a record $32.1 million in parking fees and $31.8 million in parking fines — a $64 million total.

Cash grab City Council milks the community for more cash to fund benefits

Melbourne city Council is looking at increasing its revenue base above and beyond inflation. Property values have increased above the cost of inflation and as such Melbourne City Council gains a windfall from the property boom. Melbourne City Council’s rates are tied to property valuations (NAV) increased values means more cash.

John So and his term continue to demonstrate that they are not in control of the Council’s finances with the administration being handed a blank check no questions asked.

Missing still is the breakdown of the details costs of Council administration. the true costs of international travel, internal catering, the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayors limousines. The administration refusing to disclose or provide a breakdown of these costs.

It has been nearly six months since we requested this information and still no response from Linda Weatherspoon or the Lord Mayor.

The Herald-sun continues to expose the issues, reviews and analysis of the City Councils budget and expenditure – today’s article is no exception as the gloss of John So’s Commonwealth Games glory begins to fade.

Traders vent meter anger
Jen Kelly, city editor
26may06

CHILD care, meals on wheels and baby capsule hire are among hundreds of services to jump in cost from July 1 in a Melbourne City Council cash grab.

The new revenue-raising plans revealed in yesterday’s budget are on top of new parking meters to be installed along Lygon St, Carlton.
Furious Lygon St traders vented their anger at a council budget meeting yesterday.

One distressed Carlton resident disrupted the meeting with a noisy outburst.

Traders stormed out after a move to delay installation of meters pending further community consultation was voted down by the council.

Fees and charges are expected to earn an extra $5.9 million next year. In the most extreme fee jump, meeting room hire at North Melbourne Town Hall will soar by a whopping 223 per cent from $170 to $550 a day.

Meals on wheels will jump 12.5 per cent to $4.50 a meal, occasional child care will rise 5.6 per cent to $9.50 an hour, and baby capsule hire will increase 5.6 per cent to $38.

Immunisations, pet registration, building red tape, food safety training, pool memberships and kerbside cafes will all cost more.

A controversial proposal to install parking meters at the Melbourne Zoo car park to help fund an upgrade of the parking area is on the backburner after it was voted down yesterday.

The council predicts an operating surplus for 2006-7 of $13.5 million — but to achieve that will gouge $24.9 million out of its $112 million investment reserve.

Former lord mayor and former chairman of the finance committee Kevin Chamberlin last night said the budget contained huge cuts to services.

“It now appears the chickens are coming home to roost for John So,” he said.

“The budget includes massive cuts, substantial fee increases and an unprecedented drawing from the council’s cash reserves.

“The rates increase of 3.8 per cent is twice the average of previous years and indicates that rates will increase significantly over the next three years.”

The $24.9 million drawn from the council’s reserves will help pay to finish building Council House 2, or CH2, and other capital projects.

Lord Mayor John So said the 3.8 per cent rate rise was moderate, and services for ratepayers, residents, workers, students and visitors had been increased.

“We are spending more on community services, more on roads and infrastructure and more on parks and gardens,” he said.

A bid by Cr Peter Clarke to reduce funding for the FINA World Swimming Championships at Rod Laver Arena next year from $1 million to about $250,000 failed.

Total budget revenue is expected to be $263.7 million, up from $243 million this financial year, including $138 million in rates.

The latest budget predictions show the council expects to reap a record $32.1 million in parking fees and $31.8 million in parking fines — a $64 million total.

Publication of Council’s travel costs and expenses under valuedCall for further review by the State Ombudsman Department

The Herald Sun, following the updated publication of Melbourne Travel Register and Councillor expenses.
Missing from the published expenses is the costs associated with the Lord Mayors and Deputy Lord Mayors Council funded Limousines and the costs associated with internal catering.
The City Council administration continues to avoid full disclosure of Council’s costs. City of Melbourne’s Linda Weatherspoon has still not responded to our request for information and details of costs.
The published statements are false and not a true or accurate statement of costs. The Travel register is maintained on an electronic white Bord, contains not proper record identification which leaves it wide open to misuse and abuse with records able to be be removed , deleted or amended without any proper audit trail or accountability. (The Council has still failed to account for 10,000’s of dollars of expenses that mysteriously have never been included on the published statements.)
This comes as no surprise as the Council is never held to account by the elected representatives. WHY? because they also have their hands in the cookie jar and are implicated and as such have adopted a policy of avoidance.
The Council’s continued refusal to provide open and transparent governance leaves the City Council wide open to continued corruption. (See previous posts on Ombudsman inquiry into Traffic fines)
The City Council maintains detailed records of internal catering costs but refuse to publish them. Likewise details of costs of the Council’s vehicle fleet are maintained but the City Council refuses to include these costs in the Councillors expense statements. This under values the true costs of the City administration and brings the Councils financial and quality of it’s audit into question. Most of the problems are solely due to the policy of the City Councils Governance department headed by Linda Weatherspoon and sanctioned by the CEO and the elected Council.
Linda Weatherspoon continues to misuse and abuse of the FOI process is concern. The policy and administration of the City Council governance department should be subject of further review by the State Ombudsman in the coming months ( Stay tuned).
$400,000 council globetrot
Jen Kelly, city editor
02may06

LORD Mayor John So and the city council splurged more than $400,000 on 34 overseas and 70 interstate junkets in the past year, new documents reveal.

The costliest was a $23,225 three-week trip for an executive to attend sister-city celebrations in Boston and a biotech conference in Philadelphia.

Ratepayers also footed an $8374 bill to fly in three Play School presenters for the Moomba parade and three entertainers for the Queen’s Baton Relay in March.

Reports on the council’s website at the weekend show the 12-month bill up to March is almost $408,000, with further costs to be finalised.

Spin-doctor Hayden Cock, who is believed to earn more than $200,000, enjoyed his first ratepayer-funded trip less than four months into his job.

Mr Cock was appointed to improve council’s image with ratepayers after a series of scandals, several centred on Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer.

Mr Cock’s two-day trip to Sydney to attend a “managing reputation risk” conference in March cost ratepayers almost $3500 for air fares and the conference fee alone.

The corporate affairs director’s accommodation bill is yet to emerge.

The nine councillors including Cr So spent $87,465 on travel. City of Melbourne staff, mostly executives, spent the rest.

The bill includes:

$1060 for an arts project officer to go to a NSW conference on “future directions for the pipe organ in Australia”.

$2250 to send design and culture director Rob Adams to Hong Kong for two days to verify production of a material for council building CH2.

$3300 for a council landscape architect to fly to sister city Tianjin in China for a week to ensure project managers had correctly interpreted plans for the Melbourne Children’s Garden. Council is spending $180,000 on the garden.

$15,070 for marketing manager Scott Chapman to attend the World Swimming Championships in Montreal.

$16,163 for Mr Chapman to take a 19-day trip to London and Ireland.

Of the nine councillors, Cr Singer was the most expensive and extensive globetrotter.

His trips to Milan, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Perth and Canberra cost ratepayers $36,563.

The second biggest spender among the councillors was Cr So, whose $23,771 in travel included San Francisco, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Beijing, his birthplace Hong Kong, and Adelaide.

City of Melbourne chief executive officer David Pitchford defended the spending, saying travel was undertaken when necessary in order for council officers to fulfil their duties and when it was for the benefit for the city.

Publication of Council’s travel costs and expenses under valuedCall for further review by the State Ombudsman Department

The Herald Sun, following the updated publication of Melbourne Travel Register and Councillor expenses.
Missing from the published expenses is the costs associated with the Lord Mayors and Deputy Lord Mayors Council funded Limousines and the costs associated with internal catering.
The City Council administration continues to avoid full disclosure of Council’s costs. City of Melbourne’s Linda Weatherspoon has still not responded to our request for information and details of costs.
The published statements are false and not a true or accurate statement of costs. The Travel register is maintained on an electronic white Bord, contains not proper record identification which leaves it wide open to misuse and abuse with records able to be be removed , deleted or amended without any proper audit trail or accountability. (The Council has still failed to account for 10,000’s of dollars of expenses that mysteriously have never been included on the published statements.)
This comes as no surprise as the Council is never held to account by the elected representatives. WHY? because they also have their hands in the cookie jar and are implicated and as such have adopted a policy of avoidance.
The Council’s continued refusal to provide open and transparent governance leaves the City Council wide open to continued corruption. (See previous posts on Ombudsman inquiry into Traffic fines)
The City Council maintains detailed records of internal catering costs but refuse to publish them. Likewise details of costs of the Council’s vehicle fleet are maintained but the City Council refuses to include these costs in the Councillors expense statements. This under values the true costs of the City administration and brings the Councils financial and quality of it’s audit into question. Most of the problems are solely due to the policy of the City Councils Governance department headed by Linda Weatherspoon and sanctioned by the CEO and the elected Council.
Linda Weatherspoon continues to misuse and abuse of the FOI process is concern. The policy and administration of the City Council governance department should be subject of further review by the State Ombudsman in the coming months ( Stay tuned).
$400,000 council globetrot
Jen Kelly, city editor
02may06

LORD Mayor John So and the city council splurged more than $400,000 on 34 overseas and 70 interstate junkets in the past year, new documents reveal.

The costliest was a $23,225 three-week trip for an executive to attend sister-city celebrations in Boston and a biotech conference in Philadelphia.

Ratepayers also footed an $8374 bill to fly in three Play School presenters for the Moomba parade and three entertainers for the Queen’s Baton Relay in March.

Reports on the council’s website at the weekend show the 12-month bill up to March is almost $408,000, with further costs to be finalised.

Spin-doctor Hayden Cock, who is believed to earn more than $200,000, enjoyed his first ratepayer-funded trip less than four months into his job.

Mr Cock was appointed to improve council’s image with ratepayers after a series of scandals, several centred on Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer.

Mr Cock’s two-day trip to Sydney to attend a “managing reputation risk” conference in March cost ratepayers almost $3500 for air fares and the conference fee alone.

The corporate affairs director’s accommodation bill is yet to emerge.

The nine councillors including Cr So spent $87,465 on travel. City of Melbourne staff, mostly executives, spent the rest.

The bill includes:

$1060 for an arts project officer to go to a NSW conference on “future directions for the pipe organ in Australia”.

$2250 to send design and culture director Rob Adams to Hong Kong for two days to verify production of a material for council building CH2.

$3300 for a council landscape architect to fly to sister city Tianjin in China for a week to ensure project managers had correctly interpreted plans for the Melbourne Children’s Garden. Council is spending $180,000 on the garden.

$15,070 for marketing manager Scott Chapman to attend the World Swimming Championships in Montreal.

$16,163 for Mr Chapman to take a 19-day trip to London and Ireland.

Of the nine councillors, Cr Singer was the most expensive and extensive globetrotter.

His trips to Milan, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Perth and Canberra cost ratepayers $36,563.

The second biggest spender among the councillors was Cr So, whose $23,771 in travel included San Francisco, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Beijing, his birthplace Hong Kong, and Adelaide.

City of Melbourne chief executive officer David Pitchford defended the spending, saying travel was undertaken when necessary in order for council officers to fulfil their duties and when it was for the benefit for the city.