Submission Liverpool CBD DCP

December 6, 2016

Signe 2016 outdoorsHi all, I know I am posting this after the close of submission, however I do believe if you are quick you will still have your views considered.

 

I will post my submission here, sadly there are so many things one could comment on but time and reality have to show in my lack of brevity on even only a few: click here or on the submissions page.

 

Sign off


The Budget that wasn’t

May 5, 2016

Signe Westerberg Headshots (38 of 102)Last Night I and a number of staff members attended the extraordinary meeting to discuss the budget and where to from now. My understanding prior to the meeting was that there needed to be some real savings made to cover the Asbestos mess we’ve found ourselves in. We as in poor management of a big issue potentially meaning we the ratepayers would have to foot the bill and a  big big bill it is. As you’ve no doubt heard in the press poor management of an asbestos find has us having to clean up sites all over the LGA and if any of you have been listening over the last few years, Asbestos clean up is not cheap, it requires particular and specific remedies that are expensive. While I’m unclear as to the actual number of sites across the LGA I have gleaned from conversations that there are quite a few, certainly more than a dozen and potentially significantly more. That said we had a big issue at the western depot that I believe has been cleaned up  at a cost of around 4million, maybe a little less. Doing the math makes me acutely aware that this will be an ongoing and an expensive exercise. To that end I spent a good part of the weekend going through the draft budget that had been presented at the previous council meeting. I did have the list of remedies that Cllr Ristevski had put forward however they merely tinkered around the edges of what was really needed.

As you know each year I prepare a budget submission, many if not all are posted here, however as this matter was of import I chose to address the council with the potential $7million dollars of savings I found. Sadly what I also found was that yet again we are not being allowed to see what is really happening with our council rates and the level of information being provided is again of sub standard. Below I will post the copy of the presentation I made. I went a little off track at one point as Cllr Hadchiti, as he is well known to do to my presentations, interrupted when he failed to listen to the detail and took the details I was discussing personally for the Mayor. Please note the only person I mention by name is Cllr Ristevski as my comments were directed at the role of the Mayor especially in light of the upcoming election in September.

“Good evening councillors staff and residents, my name is Signe Westerberg and I’d like to speak with you about the proposed budget as a resident and ratepayer.

Firstly, I would like to point out that we can immediately save $2.5m by postponing, better still canning the proposed two waying of Northumberland and George Streets, not only is it a bad idea, but it is by no means urgent and our budget crisis is.

We could further save $600,000 not employing consultants to discuss the Bathurst street extension, it too is not urgent and can wait indefinitely.

There is another $600,000 on consultants and investigations that can be postponed immediately on the Georges River Bridge and pedestrian overpass, while a nice Idea we cannot afford it.

Cllr Ristevski’s ideas tinker around the edges, mostly I feel to annoy but in reality this budget does exactly what I have complained about for the last 8 or so years, it provides little to no detail. There is an item under expenses on page 1033 of the previous document that lists $13,398,000 on OTHER. What the heck is other? By the way, that is NOT ACCEPTABLE. Let’s assume it’s the small stuff like the Mayor taking someone to lunch, maybe he could consider buying a $50 bottle of wine instead of an $80 one. (This is where Cllr Hadchiti took exception, the Mayor being Muslim doesn’t’ drink and I knowing that chose wine to disassociate my comments from him, although that was clearly missed by Cllr Hadchiti who has on numerous occasions interrupted, up to 8 times in  past presentations) Of this 13million I expect approx. 20% is assigned to contingencies. We can reduce that by 10% and we save another 1.34 million dollars.

Two lines above that the item is: Consultants it lists $2.430 Million so let’s cut that by half another saving of $1.2 million dollars. $525,000 on Gateway fencing at Warwick farm,  $100,000 on the Lighthorse park master plan, although much of this has been done it can wait until we can afford it.

We’re already closing in on $7million dollars in savings and all without one person losing their job. (6,938,000)

You can still reduce items like the Night markets to two a year, one in autumn and another in Spring until they become as was always intended self-sustaining, however if we get every department to reduce its spending by 10% we will reasonably cover what I believe is a true underestimate of the real deficit in relation to the Asbestos issue. Better still when a Mayor is elected insist they keep the car that is offered not a car of their choice.  Savings of 20-30,000 here and there will add a lot to our bottom line and as I said we can keep all the staff we have as we are hugely understaffed in some areas.

This budget has a number of ambiguities and I may seek an appointment with the CFO to clarify them however this is just the start. There are efficiencies, there are savings and if you could manage to keep a CEO you chose maybe we could have saved another $1million or so we’ve paid out in termination packages

Please know some of us are watching, we aren’t stupid, we can read numbers and this presentation of the budget is in so many ways lacking and that is just not acceptable.

 

Thankyou.”

The outcome last night from what I could gather from Cllr Harle’s extensive list of questions was that an interim budget would be prepared until what looked like about 4 pages of Questions from Cllr Harle and his advisory group (whomever they may be, He mentioned it included a solicitor so one might gather this included former Cllr Napolitano, [much of the wording was very much like hers] sadly this gives way to his independence when he consults with LCIT, it also renders the question of confidentiality but that’s not an issue for now). What I don’t get is why, all those questions could and perhaps should have been answered long ago, long before this budget proposal was put forward.

Why are we not simply calling for ALL departments of council to find a 10% saving across all budgets a remedy that should include many of the items I put forward above and all without the cost of one employee’s job. We have a budget of 200 million odd dollars, a 10% saving across the board might be a pain in the butt but it is completely doable and it shouldn’t be up to residents like me to have to point out those savings.

Alas that is why I read the budget and comment every year. One staff member approached me last night about one submission I made in the early days of my participation and in her opinion how ludicrous some of my suggestions were, I do recall and advised Hiba that at the time in my naivety I was listening to the then CFO Portelli and I still stand by the comment I made that as a council the entirety of the ratepayers should not have to pay for child care for what I thought at the time was 20 families. As much as I support child care the $425,000 shortfall turned out to be for only about 8 families and council has made significant changes over time to produce a first class childcare service that doesn’t have any where near the deficit it ran in those early days. I’ll have to look up what I said about Libraries but it’s nice to know staff are ‘coming across” documents like my submission when they can’t find the original DA that they entered into with Westfields and one that would cause significantly more ripples across the community than my one naive offering.

I cannot say it clearly enough, when the council staff present a budget to the community, we should be able to clearly see where our rates are going, In fairness there is quite a bit of detail when it comes to roads, footpaths etc etc and from what I could see there is still a bit of room for improvement or detail but on the whole a resident can see if their suburb can expect some work. However the rest of the document is severely lacking and while there were two speakers who spoke in support of the small items Cllr Ristevski pointed out, it would have been nice if they had actually understood the word transparency as the  document presented was sincerely not transparent.

There will be more on this over the coming days I’m assured, I don’t know what the CFO plans to put forward in the way of an interim budget but I can say while there was a lot of questioning from the two other speakers as to who did and didn’t attend the briefings, it seems none of those attendees really took a lot of notice of the detail being presented to the community as many of my revelations seemed to slip by them completely.

Of course there will be differing views, but budgets are math, math is the one reliable, it either adds up or it doesn’t and we as a community deserve to know exactly what our rates are being spent on. Calling for the interim CEO to get a $50,000 pay cut is tinkering around the edges and while he might be amenable to that, we need to be looking at much bigger numbers if we are to come out of this asbestos matter without going broke. The one thing I did agree with Cllr Hadchiti about was that in a couple of months we’d be heading to the polls to elect a new council and that new council should not be left to bear the financial burden of any mismanagement of the present one.

Lastly, the only other item on the agenda (except the confidentiality one) was that of Cllr Stanley’s resignation as councillor pending her campaigning for the Federal Seat of Werriwa and the questions it raised as to whether the Mayor would have to resign if he decides to be the Liberal candidate for Werriwa also. As the Greens candidate for the same seat it does pay rise to the question of Council only being a stepping stone to greater things however I do acknowledge that Cllr Stanley has been a diligent if not relatively quiet representative of the community. It would normally be here I would wish her well in her future endeavours however as I am campaigning against her I would rather she was not so successful and that the community elect me into the seat of Werriwa so both old parties would stop taking us for granted and we would have a louder voice in parliament.

More as it comes to hand… until then like always if you disagree just let me know, I’m happy to post your comments here so the people of Liverpool really know what is happening in their fair city.

 

Sign off


Council Meeting tomorrow night, more of the same

March 29, 2016

Signe 2016 outdoorsTomorrow night’s council meeting while being held at a the Bringelly Hall, a Rural venue, brings nothing new, sadly nothing new in the way of councillor behaviour that is. (On a side issue it will be interesting to see councillors out in the rural area, so few of them actually attend anything out ‘that far’ I’m guessing a lot of google maps/navman will be enlisted for the majority who  scarcely know it exists.)

I wrote some years ago  at the appalling manner in which the then Liberal majority of councillors were treating the then mayor Wendy Waller and how they were removing her as spokesperson for the people of Liverpool. I was disgusted then and am again, while some of what is being put forward is valid and necessary, ie removing the Mayor’s picture from everything, limiting his personal public exposure and opening up some items to represent the councillors as a whole, I do not agree with removing the role of Mayor as spokesperson. Why? Because like it or not, the majority of Liverpudlians voted this particular #powermadmayor into the role and it isn’t up to the councillors to remove that decision. That’s why we vote, democracy in its many flawed ways allows the majority of people to have their say, that’s how councillors get elected and in Liverpool that is how the Mayor is elected. I supported this then and support it now, the people of Liverpool chose to have a popularly elected mayor and compared to the rotating chair, who’s turn is it now, option undertaken by other councils it is the one I prefer. This popularly elected Mayor-dom is something I support, even when I don’t support the person elected to that role.

Sadly this proposal is imo yet another way Cllr Ristevski is taking his personal disdain/distrust/dislike for the #powermadmayor Mannoun to a new level, in that he is politicising himself as a means to depoliticise the present Mayor, another ugly use of council resources to self publicise and raise one’s own profile.. This is not on. I also question why WESROC delegation is being brought up on the agenda when our delegations to Committees etc is usually decided in Sept/October, after the election of New councillors or the anniversary of the election previously. I will go back and read the finer detail of that particular item to see if this too is another politically motivated item. With an election scheduled for 10/9/16 I can only imagine much more of this will be the case over the coming months  and it is my sincere hope that this Secrecy Council (11 items in confidence this week alone) is replaced with one intent on keeping the community informed not kept in the dark.

There are a few IHAP issues and a number of different subjects on the agenda however I am saddened that community  submissions relating to some important issues were not forthcoming on the Graffiti Strategy and the Tree strategy. While I’ve been focusing on a family member’s health issue no submissions were received on the Graffiti and only 1 on the Trees strategy, these are ones I would normally ensure I engaged. These and other issues are important to our environment and our community and it distresses me more people don’t take the time to review and comment. Liverpool Listens is opening up another avenue for discussion on some subjects however not all get posted to the online discussion paper from what I can see.

I will tweet from the meetings as always tomorrow night, however if you aren’t on Twitter, you can see  what I write/what is happening during the meeting on this page, on the right hand side the column lists everything I’m tweeting or posting on my facebook etc… so you don’t have to be connected to everything to see what is happening, it’s all available right here.

Until tomorrow….

 

Sign off


Miller Town Centre submission, plebiscites and more

March 14, 2016

DSCF0045Many of you will know that last week council presented an information session at Miller in relation to the proposed Miller Town Centre. Residents were given a week to provide feedback and I have attached mine   here 

Please note if you don’t know where to send your submission, Locked Bag 7064 Liverpool 1871 or lcc@liverpool.nsw.gov.au for emails.

Some of you will notice I’m pretty particular in how we are addressed or referred to, I grew up in Public Housing in Lurnea, my parents were not drunks, drug addicts nor were they thieves or mentally unstable. They were poor, hard working, caring and proud and referring to them as was in the document infuriating. Many successful people have been raised in public housing, many have grown up and gone on to great things from this area and I will not have consultants from where ever addressing us thusly. I am a proud Liverpudlian, I am a success in what I’ve tried to achieve and I”ve raised good, successful and caring adults, all being raised in Sadleir. POOR DOES NOT MEAN LESSER and RICH DOESN’T MEAN BETTER and YES I do take offence. I know the current thinking is that where I grew up (my husband and my children have grown  up) is considered a poor result of planning but can I tell you as a child I didn’t have to defend myself as poor because my peers were too, I didn’t have to apologise for not having the latest craze as my friends didn’t either and while there are good reasons for integrated housing I will not be told we were the result of a mistake. Not so long ago I heard the then Mayor of Campbelltown making similar assumptions. Can we please not judge/label each other, most especially not because of our postcode, in a time when getting any job is hard enough adding to the misery by blocking all people from a particular post code as being one thing or another means we miss out, we miss out on possibly the best employee we’ve ever had, we miss out on perhaps the most dedicated, trustworthy and compassionate because we label someone or their area one thing or another. Ok I’m beginning to rant but this does annoy me so very much.

 

While ever we put our pants on one leg at a time and breath the same air we are equal in my view.

 

That said while I’m having a rant, this whole Plebiscite thing is driving me crazy, all I’ve heard today on the radio is how much it will cost and cost it will…unnecessarily, blatant waste of funds from a Government who will without so much as a conversation send our young off to war  and they’re considering costing our nation half a billion dollars to rubber stamp something the majority have made more than clear they want. Wake up Mr Turnbull, the poor aren’t here for you to exploit for political gain that money could be better used and Marriage between two consenting adults is none of your business. Isn’t it written somewhere that Church and State are two separate entities… ? Too many politicians are hiding behind their personal view when they are actually employed to represent ours, if the majority have already made it clear you have no right to waste our taxes on a plebiscite it’s really that simple.

 

See you at the council meeting tonight

 

Sign off

 

 

 


COUNCIL IS CALLING FOR YOUR OPINION

May 26, 2015

Image0118Hi all, Presently council has on exhibition a list (extensive list) of parks and Green space it would like to reclassify as operations (ie saleable) Please take a few minutes to either  log onto the Liverpool Listens website and comment or write to council.

 

As I have on many occasions I oppose  any proposals to sell Greenspace in Liverpool. Not because I am unrealistic in that I know they cost money to maintain, but in the fact that once they are sold they are gone forever.

My response is :

“With the rapidly growing high rise buildings in Liverpool I am completely opposed to the sale of public parks or green space. While I acknowledge in some cases the upkeep cost seems high once the land is sold it is gone forever and with increasing air pollution from increased vehicle movements, smaller land sizes, greater populations on single sites it is essential that there is room for both fresh air and play. Lobbyists from businesses seeking larger parking spaces is insufficient reason to sell access ways as in the case of Regan park especially at the cost of considerable disadvantage to those who use that park as an access to the main road and public transport.
With increased population comes increased rates I am sure the council will be able to source necessary funds to maintain these green spaces into the future.

Regards,

Signe Westerberg – Resident”

http://listens.liverpool.nsw.gov.au/amendment-38-proposed-reclassification-and-or-rezoning

If you feel similarly please let the council know. I actually ticked all the boxes but if you’d like to focus on one or two parks alone, thats fine too. I happen to know all the parks listed and feel keeping them as lungs for our city a priority.

 

Please let me know if you would like assistance or even more info on writing a submission. I have used the website this time and may still write a formal submission opposing any sale.

 

Reminder also: Council meeting is tonight… 6pm. See you there.


Liverpool Council Budget

June 8, 2014

Signe Westerberg Headshots (60 of 102)With only two days to go, have you prepared a submission to council regarding the proposed budget, have you asked your questions,  are you prepared…?????? Sometime tomorrow or early Tuesday I’ll post my submission…top on my questions list is why oh why is the executive budget so damned high, much higher than in the past ($6.1M)and remember this was prepared BEFORE we signed  the new CEO with his increased salary… second is where is the information regarding the Parking meters revenue, I’ve looked and can’t find it…. $7m allocated for CBD parking and we know there is also a $10M dollar low interest loan, where, when ….and that’s just the beginning. Am I satisfied this document advises the community sufficiently No I most certainly am not.

Please don ‘t let this council think we will just roll over and accept this largely lacking document is sufficient by way of advising the community of the expenses and possibilities. Clearly if you’ve looked and have a different opinion or  feel differently please share, if you have additional questions share those too… The more of us asking the hard questions the more chance we have of getting an answer.

Enjoy the long weekend and don’t forget to let council know your thoughts.

Lastly did you make it to the night markets on Saturday, I had guests and was unable to attend, would love to hear your thoughts. We are spending considerable rates dollars on these trials, are they worth it, is it good use of your rates dollars??? YOU TELL ME.

 

Sign off


One week and a football appointment

June 3, 2014

Signe Westerberg HeadshotsFAV  (78 of 102)Well Liverpool, you have most certainly come off second best.  Except according to the evening news we topped the list with the highest increase across the state. Despite our (my) protestations we have been hit with the increase in rates and in perpetuity, 12%  and until 2024 the council will have to advise what is being done with the money but after that they hope you’ve forgotten about it and absorbed it just as they will.  (from the IPART document: ‘Based on Liverpool City’s Council’s application, average ordinary residential rates will increase by $36 in 2014/15, business rates will fall by $205, and farmland rates will fall by $102.’) It will be interesting to see how accurate this turns out to be. ( to clarify some of my comments for my newer readers, in 2009 we were ‘promised’ that the SRV Special Rate Variation, would be for 5 years only, thereby removed in 2014.  I take the word of the elected and staff very seriously (I am learning) and while in essence the actual rate increase will be approx., 3% more than you paid this year…. some of us were expecting the 9% reduction.)

The other thing disappointing is that I was assured (at the urban forum) that my request for additional information regarding the budget, specifically the executive portion, would be forthcoming, well to date no it hasn’t. I am hugely disappointed that council expects us to comment on the new budget without sufficient information, well pretty much no itemised detail. Then again if history was to repeat itself Cllr Hadchiti would simply dismiss any submission I made, so what do I do…keep plodding on I guess. Somewhere, sometime democracy will take hold in Liverpool and the voice of the community, be it one person or all, will be heard. Perhaps with the new CEO some of the finer details won’t be overlooked and process will be returned to Liverpool. I think the division of  local government would be relieved to get fewer complaints.

It’s now almost a week since the last council meeting, it was a little rushed and jovial because the #powermadmayor had an appointment with his telly. The desire of many to cut things short clearly worked for the Labor who managed to have a few items ticked rather than ignored was a pleasant change… the plus… a better humour, the majority lost a few of their proposals  (two sick Councillors) and some important wins for Liverpool were gained.  I was particularly pleased to see Cllr Stanley s’ motion to write to the Federal Govt expressing our view that changes to the racial vilification laws were not supported by LCC.  Interestingly this meeting showed  a very obvious change in behaviour when the majority have other places to be, like the extraordinary meeting the day before. At the time  I struggled to understand why the need for an extraordinary meeting, I was told it is normal process but I really think it more likely that going to dinner after a lengthy scheduled meeting might mean missing the football and a free dinner on our purse, lucky they now have an extra 12%. I give credit where due, they did pick my favorite Liverpool restaurant as the venue and only time will tell if the new CEO can bring people as a priority  to Liverpool. Things like spending 6 figures to relocate the mayoral office across the floor  is certainly excessive, having built my own commercial office space I say that with a modicum of experience. Also having every piece of paper leaving the council in a pseudo advertising campaign for the Mayor is unjust and somewhat sickening, that is not my comment alone, I’m hearing quite a lot of dissent from the residents, who are annoyed by the blatancy of the advertising…..they’re a wake up to you Ned!

So a quick run down, all residents are facing a rate increase, Business will save money (any one else see a pattern here with the Libs in control)… it’s time to put pen to paper about the budget. One resident confessed to me last week she would not be bothering this year, as it was unlikely anyone would listen. Nice just the kind of confidence we need to hear…but that said there are times I must agree.

If your opinion varies to mine or you have something to add, please don’t hesitate… I’ll post it here.

 

Sign off