Council backflips on Villa World discount deal

Keystone Cops entertaining us 100 years ago
Keystone Cops entertaining us 100 years ago

Koala rights protesters out the front and a packed public gallery added some excitement to Wednesday’s meeting of the Redland City Council.

Did the community attention influence Council into voting against a significant cut in infrastructure charges for property developer Villa World? This recommended discount deal was discussed before the meeting in a report by Redlands2030.

Council was all set to do the deal. The matter had been “workshopped” by councillors. An officer’s report was finalised. It was then checked by the Responsible Officer David Jeanes (Group Manager City Planning and Assessment) and authorised by Louise Rusan (General Manager Community and Customer Services).

The recommendation was to reduce the infrastructure charges for Villa World’s ERA estate in Capalaba by about $1.6 million or 44%, from $3,724,000 to $2,058,547.

Cr Julie Talty, Chair of Portfolio 3 City Planning and Assessment, introduced the report. Everything was on track for another deal that would show Redland City is “open for business”.

So what happened?

When the officer’s report was discussed, Cr Craig Ogilvie pointed out that there was no legal obligation on Council to reduce the infrastructure charges. Cr Murray Elliot strongly agreed. When the matter was voted on, all councillors voted against the officer’s recommendation except Cr Julie Talty. She brought the matter to the Council Meeting and was hung out to dry. After the vote was taken Cr Talty said plaintively “Councillors, this is what you said you wanted”.

What a good thing that, in this instance, most councillors voted on the day to look after the interests of the City’s ratepayers.

For Villa Wood, “discount” looking good one day, rejected the next.  The developer will be required to pay the maximum rate of $28,000 per block that Council is allowed to charge.

What can we learn?

What can we learn from this example of how Council makes decisions?

The City’s ratepayers came very close to wasting $1.6 million on a matter which many councillors appear to have not fully understood. In occupational health and safety language this might be classified as a “near miss”.

Councillors are not expected to be experts on every subject and issue brought before them, but the community should expect that:

  • Councillors ask the right questions
  • Council staff provides elected representatives with properly researched reports

The Villa World discount deal should have been the subject of thorough commercial and legal review using a risk based framework of analysis.

Area of possible residential development in Redland Bay Road Capalaba
Area of possible Villa World residential development in Redland Bay Road Capalaba

Council officers should have obtained some preliminary legal advice on Council’s rights and obligations. The officer speaking at the Council meeting confirmed that no legal advice was obtained. Perhaps Council’s Legal Counsel was too busy dealing with some of Council’s other problems.

Cr Julie Talty is Portfolio chief for City Planning and Assessment. Is she the best person for this job? And why didn’t other councillors question this “discount” when it was discussed in a “workshop”.

What was CEO Bill Lyon doing all this time? Surely he reads all reports carefully before they are submitted to Council meetings. Surely?

So many people in the loop and yet the City nearly threw $1.6 million away. This amount could reduce the cost of ratepayers’ investments in future infrastructure. Or buy three blocks of land from Fiteni Homes to let 29 koala trees to remain standing.

A great place to do business?

Redland City appears to be a great place to do business, if you are doing business with the Redland City Council.

The proposed (but rejected) Villa World discount deal was not a huge transaction. The real worry is that Council is about to get ratepayers involved in some much larger and undoubtedly more complex (risky?) deals. Like arrangements with Walker Corporation for the PDAs at Toondah Harbour and Weinam Creek.

What a scary thought. Its a bit like putting the Keystone Cops in charge of security for G20.

Further Reading

Developer seeks 44% reduction in infrastructure charges

Redlands2030, 11 December 2014

0 thoughts on “Council backflips on Villa World discount deal”

  1. Lets hope the same thing happens with the Shoreline development. And council listens to the people and stops the development altogether. All these secret meeting have got to stop will only 6 councillors, from now on all ten councillors should be at all meetings, especially development meeting. The people of Redlands are begining to wake up to what is going on.

    1. Yes, I’m also hopeful that commonsense reigns regarding Shoreline. The people around Samford are up in arms about a proposed 940 home development. They, like us, would be absolutely apoplectic to learn of Shoreline’s proposal for 4000 new homes!

      Let’s hope that our representatives start acting in OUR interests, for a change!

  2. Finally we have Councillors who asked the right questions re Villa World’s discount and made up their own minds not accepting what they were told to do by the Council Officers. Perhaps having a people’s protest to save our koalas and their habitat out the front and a packed gallery did help to make them realise that there was more to this that needed investigation and questions were asked. Well done Councillors!

  3. Congrats to Councillor Ogilivie for challenging the matter in the nick of time! The worry is of course that all the so called “Council experts” who prepared the final proposal apparently had little or no idea of what it was all about??

    That this apparently inept Council under the dubious leadership of our Mayor progressed almost to the final bell before someone had the responsibility and intelligence to lower the boom is of major concern to we ratepayers!

    And as already said, what a worry it is that more expensive projects are now in the INBOX for processing by these same “experts!”

  4. For ratepayers at least, in this instance the correct occupational health and safety term would be a “near hit”. a “near miss” implies no consequence. The “near hit’ was the council / ratepayers losing out on over $1.5m.

  5. It seems to me that not so long ago council was protesting the state government’s decision to cap developer contribution to infrastructure at $28,000 per block, saying that it would mean ratepayers having to pay the difference between this amount and the real costs of the infrastructure council had to provide. Now we see huge discounts being offered, making the burden on ratepayers even worse. We have to ask why are they being offered ?

    1. Put quite simply, like all Governments of every persuasion, our representatives seethis huge amount of money and consider it their own ‘kitty’ to play with. They have mistaken their responsibility to represent their ratepayers’ needs and wishes for self-grandisement and improving their own positions and making themselves ‘look like as if they know better than their constituents’. I was even told by one very egotistical Councillor that “you voted me to represent you so leave it to me”.
      Until Councillors change their perception of their expected duties and responsibilities as our representatives, and Council staff begin to take their responsibility to the ratepayers seriously, we will continue to ripped off.

      Only by remaining vigilant and passionate about ensuring The Redlands remains THE BEST place to live, will we have any chance of making our Councillors aware of our determination to have things done the way the majority of Redlanders want it.

      No more favourtism for Developers at Ratepayers expense. Developers will still make huge profits (or they wouldn’t have submitted a DA in the first place) and if these developments are expected to cause adverse affects to the area, then THEY need to be made responsible for making any upgrades necessary NOT ratepayers.

      Councillors – you are on notice! Start asking the right questions and ensuring Council Staff have carried out their responsibilities of gaining ALL relevant information before making decisions.

  6. This should be the precedent for all subsequent applications. No more deals. You are being watched. Thanks to Redlands2030 for bringing this into the open. Great result.

  7. What intrigues me was Cr Talty’s comment that ‘it was what they agreed on’. Are the public meetings just an orchestrated appearance to finalise a done deal? That is contempt for the community they are there to represent.

    They all need to be put in their place ………… Starting with the Mayor.

    1. Sadly you are correct many of the public meetings are indeed theatre. If it wasn’t so the structure of the meeting would different. Consider why are the public comments before the business rather than in response to some of the councillors ‘statements’ or issue by issue and never form part of the discussion before the vote.
      One example I know of was where a councillor in their ignorance made statements that in effect ‘rewrote’ biology to justify a development. The chairperson and mayor went on to congratulate the councillor for their comments and its insights. That issue had been work-shopped.
      My criticism is three fold, first is we are kept in the dark on what the crs are deciding i.e. we don’t get to read the ‘real’ (impartial officer’s information)… we get to hear only what they are directed to say.
      I am aware of a previous mayor who sent advice back to be rewritten to reflect their opinion. Nor do we don’t get to see the competence (or lack there of)of our elected representatives.
      Talty’s comment clearly shows her incompetence as a chairperson … from now on who will believe her objectivity from now on?
      Yes Peter I agree the mayor has let the power go to her head. But unlike you I’ve never thought her competent public representative. To me being popular and elected isn’t necessarily the same as competence and appropriateness.

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