Apathy is costly

ISN’T it amazing how quick the mayors of local government areas, and WALGA, were to start scaremongering about the potential impact of a cap being placed on council rates?

We’ve heard that vital infrastructure will not be built and that services will have to be cut if such a thing is implemented.

What is evident is that these Chicken Littles are so out of touch with reality that they don’t even seem to comprehend why such a proposal would be suggested � being that too many councils have allowed the level of services provided, and the supporting bureaucracies, to become so bloated that they forget or ignore the financial impact on their ratepayers.

Councils need to stop trying to be everything to everyone and revert to delivering essential services.

Unfortunately, like taxpayers are to our State and federal governments, ratepayers are the bottomless well to which local councils continually dip their bucket to fund their ever-growing empires.

In doing so they take advantage of the apathy of ratepayers who do not attend general meetings at which rates are approved or do not challenge their council enough.

It’s way passed time that councils learned how to keep costs under control.

They could start by implementing zero-based budgeting so that managers are forced to scrutinise all spending and justify every expense item that should be kept in the annual budget. In addition, councils should provide greater transparency and analysis of proposed expenditure to ratepayers well before approval of rate levels is sought, which will mean that ratepayers become much better informed about how the council plans to use their money.

If those measures don’t bring sufficient improvement, then perhaps a cap, or a requirement that a favourable vote from say 60 per cent of all ratepayers is required for any average rate increase in excess of CPI, should be introduced.