Last night was the last meeting of this elected council. Mayor Waller and Cllr Gilani were not in attendance, perhaps ill, and Cllr Napolitano was in the chair. There was an enormous difference in the ‘tone’ of the meeting and I cannot believe it was anything other than the absolute disdain from councillors towards the Mayor (& perhaps visa versa) which is sad if correct.
Most things hummed along nicely, a small number of debates relating to DA issues, some way beyond the purview of the topic but none the less debated. No real nastiness or aggressiveness which in itself was a nice change.
The GM presented his review of the 4 year term with lots of lovely pictures and the financial situation of council was presented as a positive.
One thing totally confused me however: It seems when councillors began in 2008 Council was $55M in debt… Council now only have $35M in debt but that doesn’t count the $10M dollar interest free loan…I am not sure why it doesn’t include the $10M…because whether interest free or not I’m pretty sure it’s still a debt. However, seems not, as Cllr Hadchiti had it confirmed. Now I’ve heard this said before and thought I was mistaken but I’ve now heard this at least twice.
Council have already collected around $15m in additional rates from ratepayers via the 9% increase, that will have been used for infrastructure ($5M/year for 3 of 5 years)…I imagine all our borrowings are for repairs, maintenance etc so I can’t work out how we are financially Better off… I’m happy to be corrected and I do get that the Rates increase isn’t a debt because we don’t have to pay it back. Council in 2008 started off with a $200M backlog of infrastructure maintenance repairs etc and according to Cllr Harle, recently that is now $240 million.
Don’t get me wrong, I get it, if you don’t have the dollars for maintenance etc it gets worse not better… therefore increasing, but the Math above still has be confounded. If correct I’ll be looking for one of those interest free loans real soon especially if they aren’t considered debt.
I am looking forward to some changes in the council makeup, I would like to think that those changes will bring with them a more cohesive and friendly group of councillors. Just before the meeting moved into closed session to discuss the General Manager’s performance and remuneration review, councillors did have the opportunity to say their last goodbyes and thankyou’s. Cllr Napolitano assuring councillors she was not gone, just changing locations and we’d be hearing from her regularly from the gallery…Cllr Lucas made a plea that those returning and incoming councillors be participants not viewers (my wording not his, but the sentiment was the same) he also committed to actively working on Polling booths etc for Ms Napolitano if she ever chose to run for council again and Cllr Hadchiti acknowledged disagreements with staff and thanked them for their support as did Cllrs Mannoun, McGoldrick and Harle in greater and lesser degrees.
Council is now in caretaker mode until after the council election on the 8th of September, when you, the voting public get to choose who represents you for the coming 4 years. My sincere hope is those incoming and returning councillors will work together for Liverpool, leave party politics at the door, debate on merit not party lines and show up – become more involved, transparent and visible. I f you’re not clear on what I mean here, you can read back through different events over the last 4 years and decide for yourself.
Mine and my team’s commitments are clear and we promise to do exactly that when you entrust us with your vote on September 8th, we will be vocal, we will be representative and we will show up. Did you know this is the First time, Greens have run candidates for election in Liverpool City?
PS: if you can explain why interest free isn’t a debt pls share via comments I’m happy to post your ideas.