Wednesday 2 June 2010

Your favourite daily - The Cairns Post - misses the rate rise news. Why?

It's rather astonishing that the Cairns Post has totally ignored Council's upcoming rate rise.

I blogged about this rather extraordinary news last Friday morning.

In light of a massive 13% electricity rise heading towards our community like an out of control privatised Queensland Rail locomotive, already suffering from sustained long-term 12% unemployment, this rate rise will have a devastating effect on so many.

I've had calls from a few Cairns Regional councillors saying that such information shouldn't be released yet, and wanted to know who was leaking. For a change - it wasn't Cr Alan Blake (not that he ever passed State secrets to me), and Kerie Hull is no longer the communications manager with access to all things juicy. Gen Y Councillor Lesina said being the youngest, she's often silently accused of being "the one that uses the internet" - and says she gets funny looks when such information appears on CairnsBlog. Needless to say, Kirsten is squeaky clean. Gosh, I can hardly get a free coffee out of her ;-) For the record, it wasn't a councillor that shared this news with me, but that doesn't really matter.

"I read your blog this morning, and you were rather quick off the mark with the budget shit," one councillor bellowed down the phone, digging for my Watergate. "I do know you know, but it hasn't been confirmed. You didn't mentioned that did you?" the councillor said. "Even if it is 5%, that's very good compared to...[inaudible]..just about how horrible it is."

I mentioned that our $300,000 CEO (that's around $842 a day), went into bat for her line managers advocating an 8% increase. The agreed 5% rate rise that will come into effect July 1st, excluding the other fees and charges that Council will impose this budget year, is substantial and rather confronting news in this fractured economic climate, that shows little sign of turning around.

One councillor said to me on Friday "Yeah, but it's only 5%!" I couldn't believe my ears. I guess when you're on around $100,000 with numerous other freebies like telephone and mobile and transport allowances - this can be around $2,000 a year) and free meals at many functions, the world is a different colour.

Sure the 5% may be within the broad allowance of what the Local Government Association would find acceptable, and in a normal economic climate, we could all probably wear it.

Of course those that make and recommend these decisions are on plum salaries and therefore are insulated from any effects of a household tax hike. Senior managers at Council, looking after their respective budgets, go in to bat to retain their territory and increase their cashola for the following year. Department managers enjoy salaries in excess of $200,000. In some cases, this is three or four times the income of an average family in the burbs.

I also pointed out that the CPI is currently under 3% and over the last three years this Council has consistently raised rates, cumulatively it now tops 25% since the March 2008 election. For some in the former Douglas Shire, that figure is well over 50%.

I mentioned in my story on Friday, a comment relayed from a senior Council manager who said they [council] have no relation with CPI.

"We can't have anything to do what the CPI is, Council doesn't purchase bread, milk and eggs," a senior Council manager said. "Council purchases steel and gravel and raw materials and all of those things. We're part of that economy, not part of the household purchasing economy."

I'm still dumbfounded by this astonishing admission of incompetence, which displayed an unintelligent position of how ratepayers manage their weekly income.

A CairnsBlog reader told me yesterday, that he has two properties, one is just a nice chunk of land he's holding as a retirement nest egg, but collectively he's paying in excess of $10,000 rates. "This has literally doubled in the last few years, and I have ask... has the services I receive from council doubled? Of course not."

Why can't a huge business like the council, present a budget that meets with the local climate ability? Are they incapable? Have they not got an understanding of reality outside their double-glazed 3rd floor Spence Street offices? Why couldn't they map out a budget with some non-essentials removed or delayed? I know many a household has been doing just that for the last year.

I have to say that in light of the current climate, it's irresponsible for this Council to allocate $4m for the redevelopment of Sugarworld, as I revealed this on Sunday. The option to rebuild just two of the slides at a cost of $700,000, would have met with local community approval. The balance could have been constructed at a later date, when the economy picks up.

It's often easy to see Council waste money in the community. I had a call yesterday from a Brinsmead resident, who lives not to far from Councillor Linda Cooper's hillside residence. She told me that her road was resurfaced in the last couple of weeks.

"For the life of me, I don't know why. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it," she told CairnsBlog. "What a bloody waste of money, we just couldn't believe it."

So where is the Cairns Post on this subject?

It's now six days on and they still have made no mention of this news. Is it not news? Will no one talk to the Post about this important revelation? Is Council trying to deflect any criticism so that they can media manage and spin it their own way? Will the Post wait for the press release in three weeks time to hear "officially"?

Strap yourself in and try to cope with the ride ahead.


Brian H, Kerwarra said...

you want us to be surprised the cairns post hasn't done this story??

they have a new ed and still have a few shock horror medical emergencies to run on the cover first....

Oliver Redlynch said...

I've heard that some council departments have had to cut their existing budgets for next year in half, with the possibility of cuts in services and job losses - so if that isn't doing it tough I don't know what is. That is why I'm gobsmacked at the decision to spend $4m on Sugarworld. But I'm disappointed at the the old salary envy argument here, to get the best staff and managers for the job you have to pay good salaries and that saves money from less mistakes and bad decisions in the long term - pay peanuts and you see the sort of monkeys you get. (So - its a pity that the councillors salaries aren't performance related ... we could certainly save a bit there!)

If a 1% rise = $1 Million as one councilor stated then by my simple math - bulldozing Sugarworld will allow a rates increase of only 1%.

Unknown said...

Maybe council should look at different work practices to save some money.I watched in amazement the other day as three council workers fitted a steel pole to the footpath in Grafton St. One was doing the work, another stood on the back of the truck watching and the third one sat in the cabin reading the paper. A private contractor could have done the work for 1/3 of the cost.

Lil at Yorkeys said...

I am appalled and dismayed to be facing yet ANOTHER rate rise. Personally, my rates have risen 250% in the last four years. Not acceptable.

These are very hard times for Cairns & community, & Tablelands & Gulf - very hard. Unemployment has somehow magically moved from 15.8% to 10.2% in one month, in today's ComPost. Yeahhh.

It will take us a good year or two to move out of this slump, & I think it will. We are still a premier Oz destination, & apparently tourism numbers are on the slow rise.

However, for our blasted Councillors & Line Managers (that's newspeak for 'Department Heads') who are on $80,000 base, to WHAT $200,000 a year to decide we should fork out extra money - bastards, I say. How's about all of them taking a $20,000 pay cut? just for this year, when we're all hurting, local businesses are still closing.

These people forget that WE pay them, & WE don't keep on their backs.

As for the four guys with the pole, I had four (very cheerful) guys reinstalling a road marker the other day. Just one marker. Then there's the constant flowering of the Traffic Control people. I drove up Ray Jones Drive today (towards the mountains) where there are some minimal roadworks. There were THREE Traffic control guys holding SLOW signs along the road, 30 metres apart. Not the SLOW/STOP signs, just SLOW. These people get $50.00 an hour. Waste, & a waste of YOUR and MY money, citizens.

The new street lights in Grafton St - yeah, very pretty, but how much? And gee, there were already street lights there. And if there are less parking spaces now (really good planning, folks) are we paying less parking fees? No.

I reckon we should stage a protest next open Council meeting, or in the interim, email your local/favourite councillor about these monetary abuses.

The Council & the 'Line Managers" should have made the kindest cut this year, given the economic difficulties. But no, an increase.
When you who voted for an increase are having your next latte, may you choke on it.

These fancy bastards need to have six months on an income equal to the dole, or the single aged pension, & then maybe they can decide what it, or isn't important. Same goes for our State & Fderal & Senate pollies, who also seem to wish hugely expensive projects upon us.

You all don't realise that you are our trusted servants - how about you listen to the people - Actually - Really - Listen - & then do something about it.

Ed in Edge Hill said...

Perhaps the reason the Cairns Post hasn't published this rumour is that real journalists have standards that don't allow them to publish rumours.

Unlike the Blogoshpere, which publishes whatever they want with no pesky rules like verifying sources, etc.

Syd Walker said...

Oh right Ed. The Cairns Post has 'real journalists', does it? They check sources properly, do they?

Is that why the Cairns Post, along with every Murdoch newspaper around the world, span the same lying yarn about 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' in Iraq in the run up to the illegal US invasion of Iraq in 2003? (While ordinary citizens the world over protested in unprecedented numbers against a war that Blind Freddie could see was based on a pack of lies).

Of course, you're entitled to believe the the Cairns Post is a credible news source if you wish. That's freedom of religion. But don't expect the rest of us to buy into your bizarre fantasies.

With regard to this story, has Council denied it? A denial might indicate you have a point...

Incidentally, do you get paid for PR work on behalf of the world's most disgusting media empire?

Paul said...

Sorry to say it Sid, but there's still people around who think journalism is still a real calling. It surprises me some even find their way to the Internet to past such comments yet won't look beyond Yahoo/Seven or Skynews or some such equally useless source of mainstream social sedation.

Malcolm of Redlynch said...

This badly needs to be rumour.
CRC have absolutely no justification for increasing rates beyond CPI yet again!
Past increases have meant I have had to make savings elsewhere ... all because CRC won't.
Manage the CRC budget and stop treating ratepayers as milch cows.
Savings can and must be made, and if Councillors cannot see to that, they are failing in the job we elected them to do.

Leuco Gaster said...

I'd like to help the Council raise additional revenue - if they'd supply one of those nice little parking ticket printers, I'd spend my evenings in the CBD booking the ignorant pricks parking in loading/taxi/bus zones. We could go halves - we'd make heaps!

Casual observer said...

Here here, Paul. It doesn't require a single ounce of original thought or courage to direct a spray towards one of the world's largest media organisations. It's surely a sign of someone who's faced countless employment rejections from said organisation or worse, doesn't have much to say at all.

Al said...

It's violent in there, Leuco Gaster, I think most of what you earned would eventually end up with dentists and plastic surgeons.

Syd Walker said...

Casual observer: I think you misunderstood the point Paul was making.

It's not surprising. Poor comprehension skills are normal for someone who feasts on a fatty diet of News Corp offal (perhaps you help recycle it too?)

As it happens, I've never tried to get published by News Corp. I imagine it would be a waste of time and electrons for me to try.

My views about Mr Murdoch and his bigoted, lying, war-warmongering, Israel-first media empire are not exactly secret. I regard it essentially as a criminal organisation: a key component of the military-industrial-complex, responsible for mass manipulation, disinformation and promoting illegal, immoral and wholly unnecessary wars.

Unless challenged openly, maniacs such as these may well bring human civilisation to an end.

If you think that's 'extreme', spend a few hours watching Fox News - the US cable channel crafted by Murdoch's News Corp to manipulate Americans red necks.

The cowards, stooges and liars who work for the various branches of the Rothschild-backed Murdoch Empire probably don't want to help promote my views - any more than I promote theirs.

Moreover, I'd rather avoid the moral dilemma of receiving cheques from an organisation I regard as significantly more obnoxious than excrement.

I'd rather clean lavatories than work for the Murdoch press. Cleanimg latrines is honest, socially-useful activity. Supporting deception, war and oppression is not.

jesus mate said...

Syd maybe you should work in a toilet and unwrap the the cloth hand towel and wrap it around your head you jew hater!
You are the closest thing to a muslim jew hater in australia I have seen.