Need for female representation
The Queen’s Baton event in Bendigo involved 19 community representatives as baton carriers: 16 men and just 3 women.
This is another example that we’ve a way to go yet before the young girls in our region can say with confidence ‘I can be it because I can see it’ and before the many women in our community who make wonderful contributions on a daily basis feel equally valued.
Again, I write to encourage us to find ways to recognise the contributions of our women and men equally in future.
Anne Murray, Kennington
Traffic jams could have been avoided
There were inconveniences around the Baton Relay. But the traffic jam along Weeroona/Lucan/Barnard; was avoidable.
Traffic from the major arterial was redirected along this route. Then some genius decided to unnecessarily funnel it all in to a single lane at the intersection with View Street; and all of this was when people are trying to get to schools, businesses, etc.
Of course there was going to be an epic traffic jam! Forest Street intersection had somebody directing traffic. Others such as Caledonia Street would have benefited from direction. Bendigo; we can do better. Incidentally, roads were shut off from 5.30 and not the advertised 6.00am.
Bruce Jones, White Hills
What are the numbers?
Experienced Mount Alexander Shire councillor Robin Taylor resigned after twelve years (Advertiser, 14 Feb: 'Third Mount Alexander Shire councillor resigns').
Robin blamed the council code of conduct, lack of money spent on capital works and high staff numbers as reasons for his departure.
He said, “When a wage bill is higher than a capital works program, something is wrong … rates have gone up 50 per cent. It just doesn’t add up.” He also noted, “… too much emphasis placed on the arts.”
Do Greater Bendigo’s numbers “add up”?
The following rounded numbers emerge when comparing council’s 2007/08 budget data with 2017/18 data. I used the Reserve Bank inflation calculator to adjust council’s 2007/08 dollars to real 2017 dollar values.
Population went from 98,000 to 115,000, up 17%.
Inflation rose 26.4%.
Rates soared by 53%.
Rates collected vaulted 77%, $52.4 million to $92.8 million.
Employee benefits leapt by 42%, $43 million to $61.5 million.
Capital works expenditure hobbled 2%, $57 million to $58.5 million. This includes roads, drains and bridges expenditure which plunged 22%, $23 million to $18 million, and will remain so for the next three years.
The trend seems clear. Councillors need to be conscious of this; follow Robin’s example and do some deep budget mining.
With notable exceptions council does generally good work, but these figures on the surface display an imbalance that needs investigating.
Readers can now do their own adding up and make judgements about the core works and services they access, and the merit of council’s use of their money over the past decade.