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One size does not fit all - Letter to the Editor, Herald Sun

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A letter to the Editor of the Herald Sun, in response to an article titled “Councils’ waste exposed” published on 1 July 2019.

Dear Editor

One size does not fit all

I write in response to an article titled “Councils’ waste exposed” published in your newspaper on 1 July 2019.

‘Governance’ expenditure as defined in the Essential Services Commission data used for the Herald Sun story covers many important public health and safety community services provided by councils as part of their core business.

‘Governance’ in this instance includes local laws, rangers and health inspectors; monitoring and compliance of State food safety, health and animal laws; pounds and livestock control; litter; licenses and permits; maintenance of public buildings; insurance; natural disaster relief and restitution costs; as well as council operations and general administration costs.

If councils stopped these important community services identified under ‘governance spending’, the health and safety of communities would be at risk.

With council budgets ranging from $10 million to $700 million and populations of 3,000 to 300,000, one spending formula does not suit all councils.

The service mix and proportion of spending on each service will vary by municipality – often significantly – to reflect the different needs of their community.

Importantly, how much is spent on a particular service does not reflect how well a service is being delivered, nor whether it meets the needs of that community.

Councils maintain $102 billion in community roads and public facilities and provide more than 100 local services and programs from newborn babies, to our vulnerable older people and everyone in between. They do this by collecting 3.6 cents of every tax dollar raised nationally, despite providing one third of all public infrastructure and facilities across Australia.

Yours sincerely

Cr Coral Ross
MAV President