Letters

From a business perspective

Ed,
Regarding Clarence Valley Council’s (CVC) proposed special rates variation, doesn’t Council function in the same way as a large business does? If as stated ‘annual expenditure has been rising at a faster rate than income’ then as any business operator knows, expenditure must be reduced. Sure the majority of Council’s revenue comes from the ratepayer but there are two sides to the ledger.
An operational review of all core services currently provided by Council is an important starting point. Efficiency improvements need to be identified. Inefficient and unproductive services must be restructured, outsourced or eliminated and sadly for those employees who may fall into these categories, this will most likely result in a reduction in overall staff numbers.
For example, while I understand that the maintenance of roads is a high priority to most ratepayers, in my opinion this is a service that Council does not do efficiently or effectively, and is a department that accounts for a large chunk of the annual budget. The proposal of an amalgamation of works depots into one super-depot seems totally ludicrous. This would surely come at enormous cost (to the ratepayer) and will only add to the time required for workers to travel to site. I suggest Council consider outsourcing most road projects, downsize and sell off road maintenance assets including depots, and concentrate on procuring cost effective contracted services from companies who specialize in road construction.
Council ultimately is accountable to its ratepayers to provide cost effective and efficient services. Asking the ratepayer to pay substantially more for the same level of service currently being delivered is unacceptable. Also simply asking ratepayers which services they no longer wish Council to provide is nothing short of a cop-out.
In any business the buck stops with management. Council must be held accountable and in a democracy, the ratepayer can and will have the final say. In the ‘real world’ the general manager would have no choice but to declare the business bankrupt and call in the receivers. Why should the ratepayer be forced to bail them out?
I suggest CVC urgently needs to engage the services of a reputable business consultant to assist with rethinking its strategy towards improving the bottom line – before it’s too late!
Note: I attempted to submit this suggestion online to Council’s ‘Roads to Sustainability’ website however the ‘Add Ideas’ button appears to be broken .
Peter Snowdon, Yamba

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