Local news 23.01.09

Local funds

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced a new era in local and federal relations at the first Australian Council of Local Government meeting in Canberra today.

Apart from giving $300 million to councils to build libraries, town centres and cultural facilities, Mr Rudd spoke of a new mechanism for consulting with local government and a new era of recognising the role and importance of local government in Australia’s future.

The $300 million Rural and Local Community Infrastructure Program will create thousands of jobs for engineers, planners and administrators in rolling out new local facilities across the nation, the boost was needed in this time of global economic uncertainty, Mr Rudd said.

The money must be spent quickly – by the end of September next year.

Bulldogs

CONTROL over planning at Whitten Oval will be fought out in State Parliament after a local politician moved to block the ground’s redevelopment.

Western Metropolitan state Greens MP Colleen Hartland moved a disallowance motion last week to deny Planning Minister Justin Madden sole power over the site.

Under Mr Madden’s proposal, Maribyrnong Council would play no part in decision-making on development at the ground. A Victoria University campus, including lecture theatre, classrooms and offices, has been planned

Ms Hartland said she had made no secret about her plans.

“From the day the Minister amended the planning scheme, I said I would move to disallow it, I think the people who live in the area should have a say and important planning changes should be discussed in an open and accountable way through local council.”

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Ms Hartland said Mr Madden should not have intervened.

“(The council) worked hard and were honest about everything,” she said.

“All they did was stand up to the Bulldogs and ask them to provide the sort of information the community needs on a development that is going to affect them. That’s why we have local councils, after all.”

But Maribyrnong Deputy Mayor Catherine Cumming voiced concern that the disallowance motion might only delay the process.

“I’m fine with it as long as it doesn’t slow down progress, I don’t want the community to come out the poorer because of time wasted on political one-upmanship. The bottom line is if the minister had just left it alone, the council would have dealt with it by now but since it’s done, I just want them to hurry up, stop the politics and do what’s best for the community.”

Sibbling rivalry

MARIBYRNONG Council’s brother-sister duo say they will co-operate as councillors despite a relationship breakdown that saw them stop speaking to each other for years.

New Labor-aligned councillor John Cumming and long-time independent Catherine Cumming now share representation of Footscray, which is mainly covered by Cr John Cumming’s Saltwater Ward but stretches west into his sister’s ward of Bluestone. In what looked to be a peace offering, Cr Catherine Cumming nominated her brother to become Mayor at last week’s meeting. He declined the nomination.

Outside, Cr Catherine Cumming said she wanted to show “blood is thicker than water. Obviously, I will work with my brother as best as I can for the betterment of the community”.

Cr John Cumming said the relationship had “always been cordial”. “I personally would have liked to see her join a major party and proceed in a more productive role (but) she’s happy being a councillor. I’ve offered advice to Catherine, Catherine has offered advice to me, and we’ve seldom taken each other’s advice. It’s a very complex issue.”

The new councillor named traffic as a priority and said he would seek a truck curfew for Buckley St.

He used his first speech to call for more council funding for the Tet Festival (Vietnamese New Year).

Mayor

KINGSVILLE’S Michael Clarke is Maribyrnong’s new mayor.

The Wattle Ward ALP councillor was voted into the top job at a special council meeting recently.

He said his top priorities would be neighbourhood renewal, Footscray’s revitalisation, community development, childcare and the council’s carbon neutral policy.

Cr Clarke defeated the only other nominee, independent Bluestone Ward councillor Catherine Cumming five votes to two.

River Ward councillor Dina Lynch voted for Cr Cumming, and Cr Cumming voted for herself.

Cr Clarke dedicated his mayoralty to two-time Footscray mayor Fred Maddern, who served on Footscray City Council for more than 20 years.

Stony Creek Ward’s Sel Sanli, also an ALP councillor, was elected Deputy Mayor unopposed.

CHILD care, community development, cutting pollution and Footscray’s renewal – these are the “four pillars” new Maribyrnong Mayor Michael Clarke says will underlie his time at the helm.

The Wattle Ward councillor was last week voted into the Mayor’s chair for the next year by his Labor Party allies and independent Ironbark Ward councillor Sarah Carter. He defeated the only other nominee, Bluestone Ward councillor Catherine Cumming, five votes to two.

Cr Cumming was nominated by River Ward councillor Dina Lynch.

Cr Clarke, who served as mayor during the last half of 2007, said the council would face “very complex and difficult matters” as the world entered a “problematic time”.

Cr Clarke welcomed the State Government’s selection of Footscray as one of six suburbs to be developed into a “central activities centre” to rival Melbourne’s CBD.

Ironbark Ward councillor Sarah Carter, who nominated Cr Clarke for the mayoralty, said she did so to demonstrate a willingness to co-operate with the Labor councillors as well as the independents.

She said Labor’s majority meant an independent would not be elected mayor.

“It was about looking at the Labor councillors and deciding who would be best for the job, and (Cr Clarke) is probably the most experienced and most well-versed on a lot of issues,” she said.

Rates

MARIBYRNONG ratepayers are charged the fourth-highest rates in Melbourne compared with owners of same-value homes in other areas.

A Leader analysis of 30 Melbourne council budgets found only Wyndham, Melton and Hume residents pay a higher rate.

The discrepancies mean owners of $500,000 homes in Toorak are charged $546.30, while a $500,000 home in Maribyrnong attracts a $1601.12 bill.

Kingsville widow Margaret Urch, whose rates bill is almost $2000, said the situation was appalling.

Des Bastin, also of Kingsville, was shocked to be billed $900 more than his friends in Prahran, even though their homes were about the same value.

Mr Bastin moved to Kingsville from Ferny Creek to save travel costs, but the savings were “being eaten up in rates”.

To blame is a small rate-paying population, ageing infrastructure and greater service demands than other areas. The council had to raise the same money as areas with higher property values.

The City of Maribyrnong has a population of 67,825 people, consisting of 27,342 residential and 5,426 commercial/industrial property owners. This is a considerably small sized rate paying base by contrast to other municipalities in metropolitan Melbourne (eg. Brimbank has more than 170,000 residents, Boroondara has 160,000 residents, Moreland has 144,015 residents).

Our small population results from our small civic area – the City of Maribyrnong is the smallest municipality in the Melbourne metropolitan area with 31.2 square km within our city borders.  We also have a significantly higher than average number of industrial and commercial use large land parcels than other similar sized municipalities.

With such a rich and long standing history as one of the first cities in Melbourne, our infrastructure is aging and in constant need of maintenance.

It would be more appropriate for your comparison to apply an average Maribyrnong property value ($392,000) to an average Toorak property value, and then look at their respective rates.

source: http://maribyrnong-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/list/category/council/

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~ by jeditopcat on 22 January, 2009.

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