Rate hike for Unley waste

Outcome of the Unley Council meeting held on 26 March:
Item 1117
Pocket Parks
I successfully moved a motion that Council prepare designs for 2 pocket parks.
It was well received by Council.
Pocket parks are a great concept and well received by the community. I have received considerable feedback from across Unley to restore the program. They may be built along the edge of a street (by narrowing the road width) or at an existing road closure (dead-end). In Parkside there is an excellent example where a road was ‘rolled back’ and an adjoining small park extended. That was a great outcome; probably the best example of what can be done.
Item 1118
Rates Incentive Policy
This motion was successful.
I totally opposed it.
I did not support the concept of encouraging high-rise development by providing big rate rebates for developers and owners of apartments bought off the plan. I believe that any such development must be economically viable (on its own merit) without any subsidy by Council. It is not fair that the ratepayers subsidise the owners of new high-rise apartments.
It is not fair on the residents and I couldn’t support it.
I was staggered that no other Councillor opposed it.
Item 1124
China’s ban on recycle waste
I raised this matter at Council by a series of questions, primarily about the financial impact on Council (and the residents).
Answers to the questions were deferred for a month to allow the Administration time to research the matter.
Importantly, my questions put the matter on Council’s radar.
It’s an issue that will likely cost Council (and residents) about $250k pa and take 12-18 months to resolve (by my estimate). It really is a crisis that has arisen across Australia by total inaction by all Federal and State Governments (and the opposition parties). No-one seriously took the threat made by China in mid-2017. Now, residents will be burdened by extra cost to dispose of their recycle waste.
I’m just so annoyed. It didn’t have to happen.
Our recycle paper, cans, bottles and hard plastic will now probably go to landfill and a community’s embrace of the culture of recycle will be shattered. So sad!

Outcome of the Unley Council meeting held on 23 April:
Item 1140
There was a motion on notice by Councillor Michael Hewitson.
It dealt with exploring opportunities to increase the tree canopy across Unley on public and private land.
Whilst I have a passion for increasing the tree canopy, I could not support the motion due to the wording and the mention of:
Rate rebates for residents with high tree canopy,
Zero rates for commercial property owners who commit to planting trees, and
Giving free trees to property owners.
Further, some of the ideas raised in an earlier workshop were outrageous, like:
Flying drones across Unley to ‘count’ the canopy cover on private property, and
Using satellite imagery to assess entitlement to free/subsidised rates.
I applied common sense and moved an amendment that was simpler and more general. It will enable the Administration to report on viable and practical options.
My amendment was passed unanimously.
I look forward to a report coming back to Council in a few months.
Item 1135
Councillor Michael Hewitson moved a motion to accept the draft annual business plan and budget for consultation. He also increased the proposed rate increase, up from 2.5% to 2.8%. He said that this to cater for the increase cost for dumping recycle waste at landfill.
I argued against this and could not accept the increase in rates.
It is just unacceptable.
By my estimate, the increased costs for dumping at landfill will be of the order of $200K to $250k pa.
Yes, it will be tough times ahead, but we don’t need to rate gauge the residents.
I pushed for cancellation of the Tour Down Under Unley Gala and Race Start which costs Council $275k. The saving would have covered the actual cost of the increased dumping fees.
I argued that the extra rate increase of 0.3% would not adequately fund the extra cost for waste dumping.
The motion by Councillor Michael Hewitson was successful.
Councillor Mike Hudson and I opposed the motion.
Item 1141
I moved the following Motion on Notice:

That following the election of the Liberal Government at the recent State Government elections, the Local Government Association of SA be requested to:
1. Cease associating the City of Unley with the campaign expressing opposition to a proposed rate capping scheme; and
2. Give serious consideration to ceasing the anti rate capping campaign.

Given the current political environment, I was staggered that the motion was unsuccessful.
So now, Unley Council and the Local Government Associate will continue its opposition to the Liberal’s rate capping.
The best strategic approach would have been to comply with the Liberals by keeping rate increases low.

The background information that I provided was:
In 2017 the majority of South Australian Councils (including the City of Unley) indicated support for an active campaign by the Local Government Association (LGA) of SA expressing an objection to the Liberal Party’s proposal to introduce a rate capping scheme if elected to Government. The Liberal Party won the election conducted in March 2018 and has indicated that it remains committed to the introduction of a rate capping scheme in South Australia.
Media reports and communications from the LGA continue to express an opposition to rate capping as proposed by the Liberal Government. Given the Government has remained committed to its election proposal and has communicated it wants to work with the Local Government sector in relation to the introduction of an effective rate capping scheme, it could be detrimental to State-Local Government relations for the City of Unley (and the LG sector more broadly) to continue to openly oppose rate capping.
A request to the LGA to cease associating the City of Unley with the anti-rate capping campaign, and to consider ceasing the campaign entirely, would demonstrate the City’s commitment to developing effective working relationships with the new Government, and allow the focus to be placed on contributing to the development of a scheme that provides best value to the community.

Here are links to the Council minutes: