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  1. Last week
  2. The association believes that council is involved in a game of distraction in the forlorn hope that some miracle will pass its way & make everything better, not appreciating at all that the solution to its increasing problems was always in its own hands if it would but resolve to pursue it. Last week, when confronted yet again with the mounting evidence of council’s financial ineptitude, one councillor expressed the view that the elected council should be able to rely on the general manager to address such matters & that it was unfair to expect councillors who receive less than $20K in annual fees to be responsible for making sure that council officials meet their obligations. So, if you can’t handle the heat councillor, what are you doing in the kitchen? Just pack your bag & get the hell out of there. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---the-Palace-of-Dreams---06.12.2019.pdf
  3. Over the course of two meetings & more than an hour’s confused discussion, council struggled to resolve whether it should accept or reject a cash offer for its two Southern Phone shares. At its simplest, council’s task was to decide (on behalf of our increasingly put-upon ratepayers) if it wanted the $785K being offered or nothing at all? The association doesn’t think that one needs to be a councillor to work-out the answer to that question. The rest was just self-serving posturing & pap. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---on-doing-nothing---04.12.2019.pdf
  4. A couple of weeks ago, the association was again reminded of its often expressed criticism of the administrative arrangements that govern the running of council meetings & the public broadcasting of those proceedings via the podcast mechanism used by council. While all NSW councils are obliged to publicly broadcast their meetings & public forums, ostensibly to better inform the community of their activities, the standard of such arrangements varies dramatically depending on where you live. Given the appalling quality of service provided by our council to those attempting to stay informed via its podcast service, the association can only conclude that its councillors & council officials must either never listen to the broadcasts or simply don’t care. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---on-the-basics---01.12.2019.pdf
  5. Earlier
  6. As anyone paying attention knows full well, council has an outstanding record when it comes to buggering things up. And like governments the world over, it has an even more dubious record in refusing to acknowledge the fact, while routinely denying any responsibility anyway. Whether it’s to knowingly publish false financial statements, to forget to hold a Quarterly Budget Review meeting, to approve changes to budgets riddled with errors, ranging from the duplication of figures to the inclusion of wrong figures or to approve an Annual Report without even having read it, the pattern of incompetence is painfully consistent. So, the association would like to know who has been driving council’s financial bus for the past couple of years, because based on the litany of embarrassing failures that it has managed to chalk-up, it seems that no-one has. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---on-incompetence---29.11.2019.pdf
  7. According to a report tabled at the ordinary meeting of council on June 8th, 2016 by the then Director Strategy & Business Services, the definitive cost of undertaking the Merimbula Airport expansion project was $7,762,208 exactly. At its simplest, the project consisted of three main elements, funded partly by the Federal & State Governments & partly by the ratepayers of the Bega Valley Shire. Little wonder that council is so keen to pick ratepayers’ pockets for $1.38M through its proposed SRV for the shire’s swimming pools when, based on the numbers, projects originally intended to cost just $7.76M four years ago, including a ratepayer contribution of just $1.2M, now appear to have blown-out to a cost of $17.93M (more than double), with ratepayers’ contributions looking like they will amount to $11.37M (an almost 10 fold increase) … & the project hasn’t actually started yet. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---on-bad-dreams---25.11.2019.pdf
  8. Yet another well-known exponent of “fake news”, the Member for Bega, Andrew Constance, was at it again this week when interviewed on ABC Radio over the latest kerfuffle arising from the 2018 Reedy Swamp/Tathra bushfire disaster. At the end of the day, notwithstanding the claims made by Mr Constance, the association could find no evidence to support his claim that the tree/s that allegedly fell on the power lines in Reedy Swamp Road were “outside the clearance area”. This is a particularly important issue of fact as it goes to the potential negligence & legal liability of Essential Energy for not having adequately protected & maintained its electrical infrastructure, thereby giving rise to the cause of the fire. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---mr-spin---22.11.2019.pdf
  9. In February of this year, Cr Jo Dodds was interviewed on ABC Radio following the formation of a new group called Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action. While Cr Dodds claims that her opinions are informed by climate scientists, experts in fires & in forestry management, the association thinks that instead of dismissing points of view that don’t necessarily support her own personal narrative, she would do well to broaden her knowledge, in particular if she is serious about espousing opinions allegedly designed to serve the community’s interests. While the association doesn’t for a moment question the reality of climate change & its scientifically acknowledged negative impact on our environmental, ecological & social structures & systems, it rejects entirely the suggestion that the current bushfire emergency being experienced around Australia & exacerbated by severe widespread drought conditions is directly attributable to climate change. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---making-every-voice-matter---21.11.2019.pdf
  10. One of the most dishonest behaviours demonstrated by officials of council is its persistent bleating about how hard it is for council to make ends meet, because of the restrictions imposed on its potential Income by the cap on ordinary rates. In recent times we’ve heard those same officials claiming that council cannot continue to fund the annual operating costs of the shire’s pools, which the association regards as nothing more than a cynical attempt to “double-dip” from ratepayers’ pockets to the tune of $1.382M, via council’s proposed $2.028M Special Rate Variation (SRV). The association thinks that it is high time to expose council’s deceit in deliberately attempting to mislead residents & ratepayers as to the true state of its affairs, both in attempting to build sympathy for its never-ending demands on the community’s purse on the one hand & to conceal its own incompetence on the other. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---shakedown---18.11.2019.pdf
  11. Following the announcement by NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) of its draft strategy to reinvent the “Light to Light Walk” in Ben Boyd National Park, the association advised the Department of Planning, Industry & Environment (DPIE) that it considered the public consultation process in respect of the draft strategy to be seriously flawed. The association believes that the refusal of the DPIE to release the Business Case & Cost/Benefit Analysis prepared in relation to the draft Light to Light Walk Strategy amounts to an abuse of process & reflects an attitude on the part of the NSW Government that clearly suggests that its stated commitment to openness & transparency is nothing more than a sham. Last week the ABC published an update on the matter, confirming continuing public concern about the apparent intention of the State Government to use $8M of taxpayers’ funds to effectively “privatise” the operation of the Ben Boyd National Park & alienate public access & use of public parkland in the process, to the benefit of private commercial operators. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---organised-crime---15.11.2019.pdf
  12. In February, 2017, council resolved to assist Pambula Merimbula Golf Club with its plan to replace its course irrigation system by granting the club an amount of $150,000. At the time, the association spoke-out against council’s decision. While the association supported the reuse of sewage effluent by the club, it believed that there were other projects which were more worthy of ratepayer support. It was against that backdrop that council found itself at its October 30th ordinary meeting being asked to support a proposal by council officials to examine the feasibility of establishing a new effluent storage dam on club land that would expand the scale of effluent reuse to an estimated volume of 217 million litres or 41% of total volume annually. Read more …. www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---paying-the-piper---13.11.2019.pdf
  13. According to its Climate Change Strategy, “the Bega Valley Shire prides itself on pristine coastlines & healthy ecosystems that support human health & development, provides habitat for a variety of species & facilitates economic activities”. It is against that backdrop & without a hint of irony that on October 30th council resolved to place its much touted draft Climate Resilience Strategy on Public Exhibition while, in the same meeting, it resolved to build an obscene Ocean Outfall Pipeline that will pollute our pristine coastal waters with sewage effluent. The association believes that council’s wilful decision to pursue the estimated $40M monument to stupidity will rank amongst the worst, if not the worst, that any council has taken simply because it may well be that a pipeline is entirely unnecessary. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---just-another-nail---11.11.2019.pdf
  14. During the same meeting where Cr Fitzpatrick moved to impose a restriction on the way council responds to correspondence from the association, council resolved to refer the 2018/2019 Financial Statements for audit. The day after its latest episode of self-indulgent theatre, council quietly published copies of its unaudited 2018/2019 Financial Statements once again highlighting council’s mismanagement. In all the circumstances, the BVSRRA believes that it is time for the general manager to accept accountability for council’s chronic management failures & resign. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---on-mismanagement---08.11.2019.pdf
  15. Back in 2005, council decided that it would be a good idea to extend its sewage system to service the needs of the planned expansion of Acacia Ponds Caravan Park & the future possible expansion of Kalorama Caravan Park in Pambula. The association believes that this little council adventure over the past 15 years, which was intended to cost the ratepayers nothing, will actually wind-up costing them almost $700,000, including the $273,616 in discounts off the capital cost of the infrastructure & more than $400,000 in funding costs. What a sad, sick joke it is that passes as good government. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---on-false-promises---06.11.2019.pdf
  16. If there is one thing that is clear from the comments made by some councillors in response to Cr Russell Fitzpatrick’s Notice of Motion at last week’s meeting, it is that they are ultra-sensitive about the inability of council officials to manage the council’s activities in a competent manner. The spectre of councillors proudly boasting on the one hand that they ignore everything that the association has to say while, on the other, vainly holding themselves out as fit to comment on its activities, simply served to highlight how out of touch they. Instead of criticising the association for highlighting council’s ineptitude, they should be focused on serving the interests of residents & ratepayers & holding paid officials to account. For its part, the association thanks councillors for generously affording resident & ratepayers the opportunity of witnessing their unseemly display & for revealing themselves ahead of next year’s council elections. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---on-saving-face---04.11.2019.pdf
  17. The association is a long-standing critic of the project to upgrade Merimbula Airport being pursued by council & the NSW State Government, primarily due to the potential negative social, economic & environmental impacts & a likely increase in financial burden for ratepayers. The association believes that the community should insist that council stop frittering-away ratepayers’ funds on questionable Asian promotions & “sinkholes” called airports & start to create useful local infrastructure to support the existing visitors to the region, such as public toilets, waste disposal facilities, parking for vans & trailers etc. If the industry really believes that such promotions are of genuine value, then let it fund them. After all, they are the primary beneficiaries of tourism visits. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---on-sinkholes---01.11.2019.pdf
  18. Amongst the more ridiculous items appearing on the agenda for today’s ordinary meeting of council is an absurd Notice of Motion from Cr Fitzpatrick “That Council staff only respond to the BVSRRA correspondence within the priorities of the Council’s resources and that any items requiring current or historical financial data be refused until Council staff are in a position to reply.” The association believes that, based on its content, Cr Fitzpatrick was encouraged to pursue his motion by council officials who have become increasingly frustrated & angry at the exposure of council’s obvious ineptitude when it comes to the management of its financial affairs. The association has advised Cr Fitzpatrick that instead of attempting to frustrate its reasonable attempts to access information from council, he & his colleagues would be performing a far better service to residents & ratepayers if they took meaningful steps to address council’s dysfunctional management culture, the hallmark of which is its genuine lack of accountability for performance. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---playing-catspaw---30.10.2019.pdf
  19. According to the Bega District News (BDN), council’s general manager, Leanne Barnes, has now publicly acknowledged council’s attempt to persuade ratepayers that they should pay council $1.382M more than is required to underwrite the future funding necessary to operate, maintain & replace the shire’s swimming pools. Responding to a question from the BDN regarding the current $1.382M in funding for the pools that ratepayers are already providing via council’s General Fund, Ms Barnes allegedly said that the current budget allocation for the pools will be “redirected to other critical, core assets such as roads, bridges and buildings". The association finds it difficult to believe that council would stoop to such dishonest & unscrupulous behaviour & in the process, abuse the community it allegedly exists to serve. But it would seem that in the world we live in today, ethics, honesty, integrity & trust are behaviours that are increasingly anathema to government. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---a-moral-hazard---28.10.2019.pdf
  20. In response to questions from the Bega District News (BDN) about the resolution of the LGA, Cr Cathy Griff was reported as saying that the adopted motion “is a vindication that the majority of other councils in NSW recognise the climate emergency, that's very clear". In an era of “fake news”, the association believes that the media has an even greater responsibility to keep our politicians honest, but it is the responsibility of the politicians themselves to demonstrate through their actions that they are worthy of our trust & support. Most importantly, just because a public official believes passionately in a particular issue does not mean that the public official has a licence to make claims that are simply not correct. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---making-fake-news---25.10.2019.pdf
  21. Back in June, 2019, when councillors engaged in their annual debate about whether they should approve an increase in their own fees, Cr Dodds moaned about having to pay for her own petrol & tyres, as well as her own meals while on council business. In what the association regards as a bizarre statement, Cr Tapscott argued that being a councillor had cost her a lot of money, before asserting that “it’s not about the money, it’s never been about the money”. As for Cr McBain, she opined that she didn’t know of any other job in Australia that doesn’t provide for superannuation. Perhaps she should have a word to the nearly six million Volunteers who every year freely contribute their time & energy to their local communities without expecting anything in return? Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---on-crying-poor---23.10.2019.pdf
  22. When the association asked council’s general manager to explain how council could resolve to appoint a 12 member Code of Conduct Panel & an 11 member Code of Conduct Panel in the same resolution, all she could say is that she was “unable to provide a response”, proving once & for all that she doesn’t actually know everything. At times the association can only shake its head in bewilderment at the stupidity of council, as even the rankest of amateurs understands that the first law of holes states that if you want to get out of a hole, the very first thing you must do is to stop digging. Not our council … it just keeps-on digging. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---train-wreck---21.10.2019.pdf
  23. In June, 2019, council announced the location of its planned “All-Abilities Playground” in Bermagui, a project funded by the NSW Government to the tune of $376,000 & by Bega Valley ratepayers for a further $42,000; a total of $418,000. The association was surprised & disappointed by council’s subsequent bizarre decision in August to exclude the proposed wheelchair mobility swing “because of its exclusivity”. According to the Everyone Can Play Guideline, “Inclusive playspaces consider as many needs as possible. They provide a welcoming place where people feel comfortable yet challenged, and remove obstacles and barriers that prevent people of all ages, cultural backgrounds and abilities (both physical and mental) from playing.” If our neighbours in East Gippsland can do it, why can’t we? Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---fair-play---18.10.2019.pdf
  24. The controversy around council’s proposed six pools strategy, in particular the possibility that it may resolve to pursue a Special Rate Variation amounting to $2.028M a year to allegedly fund the operation of the pools & provide for their future replacement, continues to grow apace. While council stubbornly ignores allegations that its proposed plan will involve “double-dipping” ratepayers by as much as $1.382M, aided & abetted by the refusal of the local media to even investigate the claims, it continues to seek submissions & has this week initiated a community telephone survey. For that reason, the association was surprised to learn that council officials are already in consultation with IPART & are already at work preparing council’s application for the proposed SRV, even though the Public Exhibition period is still open & consultation with the community has not even been completed. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---faking-it---16.10.2019.pdf
  25. The association has today made a submission to counil in respect of its draft Community Engagement Strategy, currently on Public Exhibition. The association believes that the draft offers little in the way of real benefit to the community & certainly does not represent a significant improvement on the existing procedure. The association is wholly disappointed with the draft strategy which, with the exception of the new section on planning requirements, appears to be no more than a “dressed-up” re-write of council’s existing procedure & believes that it will do nothing to enhance the community’s engagement with council. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---on-empty-promises---14.10.2019.pdf
  26. The association has now made a formal submission to council in response to its Discussion Paper on the proposed strategy for the shire’s six swimming pools & in particular the proposed Special Rate Variation (SRV) to be considered by council in November. In formulating its submission, the association has highlighted its main concerns with council's SRV proposal, including the fact that council has not been open & transparent with the community about the fact that it has not taken account of contributions for the funding of the pools already being made by ratepayers & the fact that it has not conducted a review of potential alternate funding options to an SRV. The association reiterated its support for the retention of the shire’s six pools however it believes that council’s SRV proposal is not the best alternative available to the community & believes that council needs to more energetically examine all alternate options to that proposal. Read more … www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au/files/Bega-Valley-Shire-Residents---Ratepayers-Association--BVSRRA----Media-Release---on-double-dipping---08.10.2019.pdf Facebook - 04.10.2019.docx
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