Thursday, 25 February 2016

Tasmanian Ratepayers Association's Budget Submission Is Now Online

The Tasmanian Ratepayers Association has tendered it Budget Submission [Link] to Launceston City Council yesterday and it makes for interesting reading if are concerned about the city's future.

This Council has a longstanding tradition of setting up a budgetary process designed to deliver more and more of the same PLUS CPI – and very often and then some. This is how the Launceston budget – $1000 million and climbing – has grown into the largest Council budget in Tasmania.

What comes with that is this mindset that 'The Council' is some kind of 'business' set up to churn salaries and benefits and drawing upon the statutory levies it has been authorised to collect. 

As a business model it has a lot going for it in so much as the 'customers' have to pay up or have their assets confiscated. The way this particular operation manifests itself one cannot keep images of Al Capone's operation (outfit?) at bay for all that long. It's a model that Ned Kelly would have preferred to shooting up stage coaches, pubs, etc.

The net result is almost always something like a 'slush fund' where the beneficiaries are not always those for whom the funds were supposedly collected.

It's already been flagged that this budget will be depending on fly-in-money-from-Canberra to grow the pie and feed the overlords in the manner to which they are accustomed, and some – along with some crumbs for the underlings. Think City Heart [LINK] and the speculated eventual tens of millions and the Muddle Headed Ribbon Cutting Syndrome!

All of this will masquerade as credible fiscal management when in fact it is quite the opposite given the consequences of expanding infrastructure in a stable(?) population and a potentially declining economic base.

This Council's misguided use of, and apparently poor understanding – essentially 20th Century understanding – of, Social Media leads it to the belief that whatever it puts out there is accepted and is immediately translatable as permission for whatever.

Indeed Council's use of Social Media is naive all too often and is very often cynically skewed to 21st C critical thinkers and street smart users of Social Media.

Launceston's 'cargo cult follies' persist despite the evidence that in the past this has led to the current situation; where Launceston's ratepayers are paying $300 to $400 per rateable property above the odds; where Council employs about one (1) person for every 60 properties in the municipality; where approximately 50% of Launceston people depend upon Centerlink payments; where approximately 30% of Launceston people live on or below the poverty line; and where youth unemployment/underemployment is endemic – and all this does not stop there.

It is anticipatable that the Council will work overtime to maintain the status quo not because that will serve the city well but because it will maintain, and hopefully grow, the city's administrative empire – plus maintain the salary and benefits churn.

Council's "YourVoiceYourLaunceton" Social Media site is a diversionary strategy designed to divert people from the 'main game' to some periphery diversion less likely to disturb the status quo too much if at all.

Asking people what they would spend on is quite different to asking them for the savings they can see. That would be very unwelcome as it would/could diminish the churn the operatives depend upon.

In the current economic climate, and in the circumstances of shifting economic imperatives, Launceston needs to be looking for innovative 21st Century ways forward, and 21st Century opportunities to changenot ways to hang on to a redundant 19th cum 20th Century management paradigm.

In order to do any of that the city's leadership needs to be challenged, and at every opportunity, to curtail its excesses. It a step that needs to be taken right now.

Send your savings ideas to not only the city's General Manager but also to the Aldermen you know, the press and anybody who will listen to them and pass them on.

If Launceston people do not do this, as they say, "they'll probably cop it in the neck yet again".

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