It is an honour and a privilege to represent the residents of the Hills Shire. The support from the community has been overwhelming and very humbling. The values I bring to Council are:
- Financial prudence
- Less bureaucracy
- Less regulation
- Responsible governance
As a council, we are already preparing for next year’s budget. It is the responsibility of the General Manager alone to manage the staff and day to day operations of the council. The General Manager prepares the budget and presents it to councillors for approval.
Current news reports tell of a recently amalgamated local council experiencing extremely serious and ongoing financial issues. It was reported they had over 2000 staff and their budget deficit was enormous. Apparently, management were unable to resolve their serious underlying issues or the support of the elected councillors. So far, it is elected councillors that have been asked by the Office of Local Government to show cause as to why they are not to be held responsible and sacked.
This situation is in stark contrast to the management of your council in The Hills. The General Manager prepares the budget and presents it to councillors for approval after seeking feedback on councillors priorities. And we are already preparing now for next year’s budget beginning June. There are disciplines generally followed to keep our council strong and deliver core services to our residents.
a. Elected councillors insist on running an operating surplus. This is a significant challenge due to the loss of some 10% of our revenue as well as assets to an adjoining council rising from amalgamations in addition to State Government rules around amalgamations like retaining all staff for a minimum of three years.
b. Council uses the operating surplus to invest for the future. The surplus provides funds for the infrastructure that is so needed in our community.
c. Council maintain their existing assets and ensure they are not run down.
d. We keep staff numbers to a minimum. Under 600. It’s been the same numbers for over 15 years.
e. There is a discipline to defer decisions on new spending until the budget so it is assessed against all other priorities in the budget process.
As you can imagine, displaying strong financial leadership is challenging. I am proud of what we have been able to deliver. It has always been a focus of mine and I will always ensure we don’t start down the path of those failed councils we read about.
Finally, as we go into the Christmas season, I would like to wish all our residents, my friends and colleagues on Council, and our staff a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. May you have a wonderful time with family and friends and be safe over this period.