Council Meeting 9 July

Winter Light

Racecourse Rd, Flemington – Winter Fest. Photo: Supplied.

Firstly, you may recall several weeks ago in the midst of the heated debate about funding for the Flemington Community Hub, a claim was made about which ward generates the most rates for the City of Moonee Valley.

The Blog post for the meeting notes a councillor’s claim that “the rate base” for MVCC comes from Myrnong Ward. I seem to recall the words ‘cash-cow’ being used, but I could be mis-remembering.

Making use of the Freedom of Information processes at MVCC, I asked for some information to clarify whether in fact this claim is correct.

My understanding is that the division of wards strives for equity in terms of population and that this generally reflects equity of property and rates in an inner-city Council such as Moonee Valley.

The information received via FOI debunks the claim that Myrnong Ward provides the rate base of the municipality.

In 2017/18, Myrnong ward did bring in $354,050 more revenue in total rates (residential and non-residential) than Buckley Ward.

However, Buckley Ward was $85,000 ahead in 2018/19 – with Rose Hill trailing by $4 million. Given MVCC’s total rate revenue is over $100 million, these small differences are insignificant.

Generally, the rate revenue is fairly evenly generated across all three wards.

Total rate revenue $ Total rate revenue $
WARD 2017/2018 2018/2019
Buckley        33,784,896.95   35,679,698.32
Myrnong        34,129,946.90   35,597,049.05
Rose Hill        29,384,658.20   31,366,441.92

I was also provided with a breakdown of rate revenue by surburb and, unsurprisingly, Essendon and Moonee Ponds, as the largest suburbs, generate the most rates.

Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 5.40.57 pm

In the table above, I have included population estimates from .idCommunity 

The calculations show that Buckley Ward has the highest proportion of rates per person.

It would have been useful to make calculations using the number of properties, not people, given the tax is a property tax, but I don’t have access to this information.

Looking at the total of residential rates per person in each suburb, interestingly, Flemington comes in right down the bottom along with Strathmore Heights and my home suburb of Travancore.

Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 5.46.39 pm

And thanks to a tip from a reader, I’ve now added a similar table using number of dwellings (not properties and 2016 data available only – so some distortions). Travancore is a small suburb and about half the dwellings are in the ‘Lombards’ complex.

Screen Shot 2019-07-10 at 10.34.30 am

This doesn’t mean that suburbs should receive facilities according to their rate-base. Rather, equitable distribution according to need is the generally agreed goal.

But it does demonstrate that Myrnong Ward is not in the special position of generating more wealth than other areas of Moonee Valley. All residents and property owners share the load fairly evenly according to the weird rate calculations.

Now for the Council meeting at which I am asking two questions …

There are a few people present.

Reconciliation Statement – The Mayor welcomes all and pays respect to Indigenous elders.

Apologies and Leave of Absence: Cr Marshall is seeking approved leave of absence for this meeting. Carried unanimously. An apology from Cr Gauci Maurici is noted.

Confirmation of Minutes: Ordinary Meeting of Council held on Tuesday, 25 June 2019. Carried.

Declarations of Conflict of Interest: Nope.

Presentations: None.

Petitions and Joint Letters: Nope

Public Question Time: Questions from me
1. Has there ever been an agreement, offer, offer of an agreement between a representative of the State Government and MVCC regarding the provision of, or funding for, a new Flemington Community Centre related to the Flemington estate redevelopment, and, if so, what was the nature and outcome of such agreement or offer?

Answer: There has never been any agreement of funding.

2. There was a statement at the Council meeting of 11 June to the effect that the proposed $40m allocation for the Flemington Community Hub included a $10m contingency (time – 53:34 of the recorded meeting). If this statement was correct, what was its meaning?

Answer: It is common to provide for contingencies. The amount of the contingency cannot be disclosed as it may prejudice future contracts.

Reports from Special Committees: Grants Assessment Special Committee meeting

36 Wisewould Street, Flemington – Construction of seven dwellings

Cr Cusack moves an alternative motion to refuse the permit on the basis of urban design, neighbourhood character, traffic impacts. Cr Nation seconds.

Cr Cusack says there will a development ton the block no matter what and will shape the future look of Wisewould St. There are 18 objectors for this application – including many residents of Wisewould St. Cr Cusack is critical of the dark colour scheme and the “change in the urban form”.

He is concerned this is a “step too far”: that the set backs and private open spaces are not allowing for sufficient greening.

Cr Nation says the shape of the block constrains compliance with ResCode with respect to setbacks, but that the purchaser knew the shape of the block when it was purchased. he says if the bulk of the proposal faced onto Epsom Rd, it would be preferable.

No-one else speaks. Carried unanimously. Will have to watch for VCAT’s decision.

97 Glass Street, Essendon – Construction of six dwellings

Cr Lawrence moves the officer’s recommendation. Cr Sipek seconds.

Cr Lawrence said that none of the 22 objectors came to the consultation (which sounds odd). He says some of the existing apartment blocks in Glass St are “pretty ugly” and that this will look better. He does wonder what are the limits of development in an area, but he says that on the basis of the compliance with all standards, the development would be likely to be approved at VCAT.

Cr Sipek agrees. No-one else speaks.

For: all except Crs Surace and Sharpe. Carried.

19-21 Park Street and 2-4 Smith Street, Moonee Ponds – Construction of ten dwellings with basement parking

Cr Cusack moves the officer’s recommendation with an additional point asking for a local traffic management assessment six months following completion of the development. Cr Cusack says the original development had about 30 apartments, but that this development has only ten dwellings. He says an argument against the proposal at VCAT is unlikely to stand up. “It’s terribly difficult to go back to VCAT and say ‘No’ again.”

He says the complications of traffic movement and parking have been dealt with by not providing any permits for the apartments facing Park St. He says Council will have to continue to manage the impact of traffic movements.

Cr Nation says he understand the increased intensity in the development. He says that the original 30 dwelling apartment block was like “the Titanic”. He says the new application is of reduced height. He says the new designs have attempted to comply with the VCAT ruling.

I do think it’s interesting that Council is approving this proposal, but not the Wisewould proposal on a corner with Epsom Rd, but I haven’t had a chance to look at them both in great detail. Ten dwellings on this site seems much more intense than the seven dwellings in Wisewould St/Epsom Rd.

Cr Surace speaks against the motion. She asks for an officer to clarify the assessment of “compliance”. The officer says it meets the standards. Cr Surace says she understands there will be 20 car spaces in the basement, but that the development will add pressure to the “already exhausted streetscape trying to cope with the amount of cars” in the area. “The whole area will become grid-locked”. “I don’t have an issue with going to VCAT. They may say no again to this proposal.” Her main concern is that these issues will keep arising.

Cr Cusack says he takes Cr Surace’s points. But he says his worry is how to “resurrect a debate at VCAT when there has been substantial change” – when size, bulk, scale and the large wall have been removed. “This design has addressed much of that. It’s not perfect, but on the other hand, it’s a difficult question.”

Cr Cusack says Council can’t rely on traffic as a planning matter.

For: Crs Nation, Sharpe, Byrne, Cusack

Against: Crs Lawrence, Sipek, Surace

Proposed At Call Hard Waste Collection

Cr Byrne moves the officer’s recommendation. She says that it took a long time last year for trucks to pick up the hard waste across the municipality. She says that last year there was also a lot of illegal dumping. Apart from mattresses, all hard waste was taken to land fill.

The report to Council reconsiders this and offers each household two free pick-ups each year with some size limits. Residents can pay extra to go above the limit. Residents can also choose the time of the collection to coincide with residents’ needs (eg when they are moving or need to clean out).

It does look like the at call system intends to “ensure the majority of the waste put out is recycled”.

Cr Lawrence talks about the illegal dumping that seemed to contribute to the amount of waste collected last year. Cr Cusack says the critical thing is that it puts the users back in charge of the game. Cr Cusack says stuff has been dumped in Myrnong Crescent by people moving out of flats. He wants to see Body Corporates getting on board.

I wonder if any officer reading this might also be able to advise my neighbours who keep putting random items on the nature strip in the hope someone will take them!! Perhaps they could be advised of the on call service!

Cr Sipek asks to move an amendment to seek a report back in 12 months to check everyone is happy with the new arrangements. Cr Surace seconds the amendment.

Cr Sipek says he is worried about the environment – the Mayor asks him to stick to the amendment. Cr Lawrence asks what will be in the report. Cr Sipek says whether it is financially satisfactory and whether it is a better way of doing things, and whether the community is happy.

Some words are added to the amendment … but the Mayor asks for these to be removed as they were not seconded. Cr Cusack says the report should detail the service response, the volume of demand, the associated costs and availability of vehicles, the impact on the depot and transfer station. Cr Byrne says it should be expected that the report will come back detailed and comprehensive and there is no need to list exactly what should be in the report.

Cr Nation says he is curious about what defines success – is it about cost? He asks if it will cost more to recycle more – and this would be a positive.

The amendment is carried unanimously. This becomes the substantive motion.

Cr Sipek says he is worried about making sure the community can give feedback on the new system. He is worried about increasing the number of call-outs and environmental impacts of more trucks on the road. He’s also concerned about residents having to pay for having more than two cubic metres of waste being collected. He is also concerned about costs and improved efficiencies.

For: all except Cr Sipek. Carried.

Response to petition regarding Park and Ride Shuttle Bus Service

Cr Surace moves the officer’s recommendation. She says it is an issue of cost vs patronage: an average cost of $18 per trip. She says passengers indicated they would cease using the service if required to pay. She says the costs are prohibitive.

Cr Lawrence says the petition came from the ATO – which he says is curious!

Cr Nation says Council is sending mixed messages regarding parking in MVCC. He says the proposal was trying to provide alternative transport options. He says it was doing well until the service was reduced. He says the Caydon development is still impacting parking. He says traffic will continue to get worse and Council needs to look for ways to promote public transport. He says he won’t support the motion. He says MVCC needs to do what the website says about offering alternative transport options.

Maybe bike infrastructure, more trains, better pedestrian connections around Puckle St, trams with disability access!!! There are bound to be many other options for improving transport.

Cr Byrne says this is a learning experience and that it might be worth going back to the people who did use the bus to better understand what alternative transport options would be successful.

Cr Cusack agrees that Council needs to continue to explore alternative transport options. “We need to get the car out of the bloody equation.” “Maybe this was an idea before it’s time.” He says it is an equity issue.

Cr Surace says the bus was introduced to deal with the impact of the Caydon development and did reduce the availability of buses for community groups and people with mobility issues. She says it might be something that is revised in the future.

For: all except Nation and Sharpe. Carried.

Submission to the Local Government Bill 2019

Cr Surace moves the officer’s recommendation with an amendment to state that Council does not support single member wards in the municipality. Cr Sipek seconds the motion.

Cr Surace says the abolition of multi-member wards is a major departure from the discussion paper that had two options both allowing for multi-member wards.

Cr Surace explains that the new Bill will have the changes formerly proposed in 2018, but include new measures, one of which is to mandate that all metropolitan councils become single wards (not including City of Melbourne?). Cr Surace says she is not in favour of single member wards as if a councillor is unavailable this impacts residents.

Cr Sipek says he has been a councillor in a single and multi-member ward. He says all councils are different and that community members should have a say in the structure of representation. He says it should not be uniform across all councils. “The community should determine what works for them.”

Cr Cusack says this is a submission to a Minister on an Act of Parliament – therefore he can’t support the motion (but the Act will remove any option for Council to ask for a multi-member ward – so once this goes through there will be no opportunity to argue for multi-member wards). Cr Cusack says the submission in its original form made it clear MVCC supported the option of having options …

Cr Cusack says the covering letter could include a statement strongly endorsing multi-member wards.

I think this is getting into unnecessary knots. 

Cr Lawrence says a complication of single wards is the number of councillors and the need for by-elections. Cr Lawrence says councillors want to have the option of multi-member wards.

Cr Cusack foreshadows the officer’s recommendation.

Cr Surace closes by referring to the ways in which single member wards can limit diversity amongst councillors, including gender diversity.

For: all except Cr Cusack. Carried.

Notices of Motion, Urgent Business, Delegates Reports , Confidential Reports: Nope

The Mayor closes with a note about NAIDOC week and Winter Fest and encourages residents to enjoy the celebrations.

Close of Meeting

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