by tonytran2015 (Melbourne, Australia).
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(Blog No. 188).
The Parasites of Western Economy, Part 12: Local councilors and their self-granted benefits.
#parasite, #local council, #oversea junket, #misspending, #budget over-run,
Advanced Western countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many EU countries) have multilayered governments. Governments at the lowest level in that hierarchy are the Local Governments. They are responsible with all matters not delegated to their higher governments.
Typical local governments (such as in Victoria, Australia) are called the Local Councils, they are responsible for the following matters:
Rubbish removal service, Local roads and parks maintenance, Running primary and secondary schools, library service, local hospitals.
They are expressly excluded in the following matters: Foreign Affairs, Defense, All matters delegated to Federal and State governments.
The systems in other advanced Western countries are similar.
Any government in the World obtains its money from taxes imposed on its citizens. However citizens have the herd mentality and are often unconcerned that their money may be in the wrong hands. This sets the scene for parasites to come in and suck the communal treasury. [1-12]
1. The runaway Local governments.
Local Councils are currently not audited and their spending are open to abuse. The budget of any Council can be easily siphoned by:
1a- Excessive costs of “external consultancy” on projects. Councilor candidates should have declared their expertise on projects promised to constituents before standing as candidates for elected offices and external consultancy should not be but have been used as a shield to hide incompetence of elected representatives. [13-21]
1b- Unnecessary expensive costs granted by Councilors to themselves for oversea “study trips” (Councilors should have learned about the costs of their promises before standing as candidates for election). Councilors love going on oversea study trips. Those oversea study trips if necessary should have been delegated to professional specialist employees of Council. [22-32]
1d- Non-transparent tendering on approved project.
1e- Unacceptable accounting method lumping significant costs under the headings “others” to hide specific spending items from tax payers. (The heading “others” in any accounting report should only be used just to avoid its overcrowding, by reducing any of its long lists of competing significant items to less than 10 items long).
2. Reform to Local Government are needed.
Residents have cried out for reform to local governments. The following points should be addressed by any reform:
2a. Taxes (also called rates) by local government should be based on service provided. Currently the collection of Council taxes (also called rates) is capped by a percentage on the values of property (land and houses).
2b- Councils are responsible for the following core activities:
Rubbish removal service, Local roads and parks maintenance, Primary and secondary schools, library service, local health offices.
2c- Each Local Council must have functioning information office at town hall and website for residents to follow its activities and register their objections to its actions.
2d. Issues affecting residents significantly (including major and costly projects) must be made public for significant time through Council information office and website.
2e- Councilors must vote in public by show of hands in meeting at their respective town halls on issues affecting residents significantly (including major projects) but the latter have to be made public. Such decisions should be made subjected to revocation by more than 50% of voting residents registering objection by internet within 4 weeks. 
2f- Councils can only have recurrent budget items covering the salaries and expenses on their core activity categories specified in 2b.
2g- Any intended spending on all other activities must be publicized, discussed and approved in public meetings as specified by 2e.
Study costs, especially oversea trips for Councilors (who should have learned about their policy promises before standing up for election) should be banned as elected office holders should not be able to grant “benefits” to themselves. [35-36]
2h- Project spending should be carried out with transparent public tenders.
2i- Councilor candidates must declare their expertise on projects promised to constituents before standing for elected office and external consultancy costs to Council on those promises must be revealed.
As a consequence, a candidate would have to say:
If elected I will pay $1M dollars to get a consultant to give us the price to build a Taj Mahal for the Town Hall
If elected I will spend $10M dollars to build a Taj Mahal for the Town Hall.
2j- Records of all previous election promises at all elections of each councilor candidate must be declared.
2k- A higher government (such as State government in Australia) should audit Council Budgets annually. This audit should reveal activities which are inefficient or are outside the authorized responsibilities of Councils.
3. Examples of run-away Councils.
3a- Councils now have little idea on how to do its core business of garbage collection and dealing with recyclable wastes. 
3b- A local council spend money to promote LGBT in the referendum. This is a human rights issue which is for the Federal government to solve.
The ratepayers of Moreland will be astonished to learn that the council is considering spending their hard-earned dollars in support of Russian punk protest band Pussy Riot. This is a human rights issue which is for the Federal government to solve.
3c- Council of Marybyrnong keep the expensive practice of replanting kerbside trees every few years near its Footscray Library.
3d- Council of Brimsbank spent large amount of money to erect a temporary luxury huts promoting “green houses” on Hampshire Road in August-September 2018.
3e- Bayside Council runs its own bus services. [40-41]
3f- Councils running City sisterhood with oversea cities.
Fortunately, the NSW government will crack down on council travel junkets. Under the overhaul, councils will have to disclose what is spent on sister city trips
4a- Reforms to Local Governments are urgently needed.
4b- Every citizen has to be vigilant and report to the higher, supervising Government any cheating he can see at Local Government level. Only by doing so he can avoid being turned into a tax-donkey provider for those cheats. Citizenry must also actively participate in politics to prevent corrupt politicians from turning local tax (also called rate) money into honey pots for themselves and Councilor Offices as their incubator. First hand contact with them will show you their unbounded greed and their contempt for tax payers.
. Investigation into the alleged improper conduct of councillors at Brimbank City Council, https://www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au/Publications/Parliamentary-Reports/Investigation-into-the-alleged-improper-conduct-of
. Council spending: Staff wages blow out council spending costs …, Sunday Herald Sun. May 12, 2018 9:00pm, https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/staff-costs-blow-out-by-500m-and-take-bigger-share-of-councils-spending/news-story/911e5c5c1c363fc569b48538deb79cc7
. Council defends overseas ‘junkets’
. VICTORIAN councils are splashing ratepayers’ money on overseas “junkets” instead of focusing on local issues, https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/melbourne-councils-under-fire-for-asia-junket-spending/news-story/bc7ec9b5b63991dc43f1cc09a0bcdd44
Added after 2019 Jan 21:
Council representatives do NOT want to represent constituents.
“It is time that the City Of Maribyrnong put a hold on all non-urgent spending and undertook a whole of Council review of projects, expenditure (one off and ongoing), head count and to actively look for cost savings to reduce the financial burden on all ratepayers.”
“There are over 3 million ratepayers in Victoria.
it’s time they were properly represented…We lobby councils to be transparent and share all information possible with ratepayers. We seek to end the “secrecy” within many council operations. We demand less “confidential business” and more scrutiny of all council decisions, spending and outcomes”
“There is a general problem in Victorian councils on how they are spending…”
. What has happened to average rates and charges? https://www.esc.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/lg-outcomes-maribyrnongccfactsheet-20190520.pdf
. Melbourne councils spending big on international travel …,
The City of Casey, covering the outer southeastern suburbs, is one council to have caught the travel bug, spending $55,000 in jaunts to New York and China this year alone.
. Maribyrnong Council Rate 20% Jump 2012 – Home owning, https://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/1982393
Maribyrnong Council is completely inept, a motlier crew you’d struggle to find in a day’s march. There has been a massive increase in the number of apartments and town houses in the last 5 years or so and Highpoint continues to expand, so rate revenue surely must have grown considerably, yet rates are through the roof and services have been cut.
. Blundering tradies forget to install ramps on new … https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7080571/Blundering-tradies-forget-install-ramps-new-driveways.html
The local council in Footscray, Melbourne asked the tradesmen to build new driveways. But they forgot to lower the curb to allow cars to drive smoothly on to the road.
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