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Slash brass, council told

New idea: the online survey was undertaken by Crs Don Hill (left) and Andrew McEwen.

SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council should reduce the number of managers and directors it employs, according to a survey undertaken by two councillors in the lead-up to budget deliberations at tomorrow’s (Wednesday) council meeting.

The online survey by councillors Don Hill and Andrew McEwen of 180 people found 81 per cent wanted council to streamline its management structure.

Council is proposing to increase rates by 7.5 per cent in a bid to meet a massive $4.6 million superannuation defined benefits shortfall and loss of government grant income.

Reducing the capital works budget was backed by 32 per cent of people but only 17 per cent supported cutting services.

“This result is very interesting because there is a commonly held view or at least expressed view that infrastructure and capital expenditure is more important than services,” the councillors wrote in their summary.

“Almost twice as many people believed cutting capital expenditure was more desirable than cutting services.”

Half of survey respondents wanted service levels to remain the same but only eight per cent were prepared to pay a rate rise of more than five per cent to keep those service levels unchanged.

“Fifty-seven per cent of those wanting service levels to remain unchanged only wanted to pay CPI rate rise of four per cent,” the councillors wrote.

There was overwhelming support (88 per cent) to conduct a review of services to maximise efficiency and effectiveness, and (84 per cent) to develop a shared services approach with other councils to curb rate rises.

“There was almost 48 per cent support to strategically invest in services such as Coal Creek and caravan parks to reduce cost and increase revenue versus 29 per cent opposed,” the councillors wrote.

There was no clear support for growing the population as fast as possible to 40,000 people to become more financially sustainable.

There was also considerable concern at council’s consultation and engagement, with 48 per cent of people believing it was very poor or poor and only 12 per cent good or very good.

There was overwhelming support for the need to improve engagement with some 80 per cent.

The survey was undertaken online via SurveyMonkey. The councillors believed it was “highly successful in getting a relatively clear consensus from the sample on most key issues”.

“It would be preferable in the future for council to seek similar social media feedback, based on a well published and advertised survey and or other social media mechanism,” the councillors wrote.

“If council is genuine in wanting to raise the level of engagement, social media is a critical approach particularly for engaging those less than 40 years of age.”

 

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Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=7425

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