Mayor Williams is completely at odds with the Redlands community about spending priorities. This is the key finding of a recent poll by Redlands2030 on how a “spare” $100,000 in the budget should be used.
The Mayor and her supporters in Council recently voted to spend $100,000 per year on employment of a new position called the Community Events Officer. Supposedly, the funds for this position are to be found by reducing the money available for community and conservation grants.
This issue was discussed in a post on this website titled Grants reduced to fund Community Events Officer.
No business case was put forward for the new position of Community Events Officer. The report to Council did not explain why any new “events” duties could not be handled by more efficient use of Council’s existing staff.
Average rates increased above CPI in the budget approved by Council in July. Redlands2030 has already posted concerns that the Redlands Budget is full of holes.
The original budget for 2014/15 featured an operational deficit of $11.2 million. At the Council’s General Meeting on 3 September the budgeted deficit worsened to $11.5 million when “carryover” items were taken into account.
While the deficit gets worse, it appears that the current Council majority is quite happy to use ratepayers’ funds on employment of a person to support “events’. Of course this position could yield a steady stream of photo opportunities for a Mayor who may already be focused on getting re-elected.
Redlands2030 decided to find out if the current Mayor and Council are in touch with the community when it comes to choices about how to use ratepayers’ funds.
We asked the community to vote on a specific budget allocation choice. The poll was open for 16 days commencing 25 August. There were 102 respondents. Details of the questions asked and results obtained are set out below.
Redland City Council recently identified an unused budget allocation of $100,000 per annum. What do you think Council should do:
|Reduce the City’s $11.2 million operational deficit||56||55|
|Sponsor community projects and activities||39||38|
|Employ a Community Events Officer||7||7|
With only 7% support, it is very clear that the people who responded to this poll do not support the employment of a Community Events Officer.
A clear majority of respondents voted for the City Council to focus on deficit reduction and avoid spending this “spare” $100,000.
We think that the poll findings confirm that the community has a clear understanding of how Council’s finances should be managed. People want less waste on bread and circuses and more focus on financial discipline.
Redland City needs to undertake a thorough review of its finances in order to match revenue and expenses over the long term. This challenge should be handed to a Financial Strategy Task Force led by one of the City’s capable and experienced elected Councillors. The short list for this role should not include any of the Councillors who recently voted to waste money on the non-essential position of Community Events Officer.