Mr Dave Munro
In around February 2019 Council was sitting at approximately a 25 to 30 per cent completion rate of the capital work projects for the 19/20 financial year.
Many residents and I watched with interest whether Council would complete more than half the budget allocation for capital projects. Whilst I don’t expect that Council reaches 100 per cent complete, as there is always going to be timing issues, I do expect that we reach around 80 per cent. The reason is that ratepayers have paid for these projects to be completed and should be able to enjoy the benefit of the updated or new capital item.
Recently we had our Budget Review One for the 20/21 financial year that was brought to the Chamber where we assess how the first quarter has gone against the budget. We are already seeing some capital works being shuffled around and I hope the Chamber will be watching very carefully what happens at Budget Review Two, which is usually around February, to see the progress of capital works. I am a firm believer if you are raising rates to fund these projects then they should be completed as close to possible within the financial year and not have millions of ratepayers’ dollars sitting in the bank earning interest because the works are delayed.
Interestingly enough we had a briefing the other day (yep anther one - that is probably the 987th briefing for the year) which talked about whether Council is providing sufficient representation or whether ratepayers are over-represented, meaning are there too many Councillors. I would have to agree that there are too many Councillors and it should be reduced. Currently we have six wards, with two Councillors in each ward except for one, which has three. With 13 Councillors it is difficult to get items through in a timely manner as the debate can be unnecessarily extended.
It will be interesting where this topic goes and, whilst I think the Chamber would benefit from fewer Elected Members, you have to consider how much the workload will be increased per Elected Member and whether you will end up with a group of retired and semi-retired people who will have the time to take on the increased workload. I am not sure that is such a good thing as we need a mix of people in the Chamber. It is a tricky balance but certainly 13 Elected Members is too many and hopefully there is a change.
A big welcome and congratulations to Rod and Coralie as the new ward members for Gault. It’s great to have a full Chamber again.
Have a great Xmas and New Year and looking forward to a quiet ‘high risk’ weather season and a vaccine in 2021.