Freo's View

HAVE YOUR SAY ON NEW LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT

 

WA Local government Minister David Templeman has an article in today’s West Australian in which he encourages the community to get involved in the review of the local government act and make suggestions on how we can improve our local councils and administrations.

Here some information from the government website about it:

Phase one: modernising local government

Phase one of the review focuses on four key areas:

  • Meeting community expectations of standards, ethics and performance
  • Meeting public expectations for accountability, including gift disclosures
  • Electronic availability of information
  • Building capacity through introducing administrative efficiencies

Local governments and the community were invited to have their say throughout the consultation period. The phase one discussion paper was released on 8 November 2017 and public consultation closed on 9 March 2018.

Phase two: delivering for communities

​Commencing in 2018, phase two will ensure local governments are positioned to deliver for the community by examining:

  • Elections
  • Community consultation and engagement
  • Integrated Planning and Reporting
  • Financial management
  • Rates and charges
  • Beneficial organisations (council controlled organisations)
  • Local laws
  • Interventions
  • Administrative efficiencies

What you need to know

What is the Local Government Act review?

The Local Government Act review will introduce changes that will modernise the Act and ensure that local governments are positioned to deliver for the community into the future. The review is being undertaken in two phases. The first consultation paper released on 8 November 2017.

Phase two of the review is now underway.

Local government is real grassroots government so we should all take an active part in trying to improve the performance of our elected members and staff, and get greater transparency and better communication, so have your say!

Roel Loopers

Comments Off on HAVE YOUR SAY ON NEW LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT

FREMANTLE LOSES OUT ON $ 2 MILLION IN RATES ANNUALLY

 

When the Western Australian state government complains about the unfairness of the GST distribution, they might want to also have a think about the unfairness to some local governments, like Fremantle, regarding the local council rates exemptions for all kinds of institutions.

It costs the City of Fremantle estimated over $ 2 million annually, which is a big amount for a city with a small ratepayers’ base. We don’t know the exact figures because the Valuer General’s office does not provide councils with property values where there is no need.

But according to City of Fremantle figures we lose out on $ 707,000 from Notre Dame University, $ 210.544 from crown properties, $ 98,992 from places of worship, $ 24,085 from schools/educational, $ 630,819 from charities and $ 54,846 from others/written law/acts.

The above figures are not complete as they do not include the large TAFE site in Beaconsfield and others which are exempt from paying local government rates. The City also does not get rates from Fremantle Ports.

So maybe it is time the State Government compensated affected local councils for state laws that financially disadvantage them considerably.

Roel Loopers

CAN FREMANTLE CITY SAVE ON INSURANCES?

Posted in city of fremantle, councils, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on May 7, 2018

 

I hope that the City of Fremantle beancounters and Councillors did read the article on the front page of the POST community newspaper this weekend.

The article claims that local councils can save a lot of money by shopping for insurance, rather than simply using the Local Government Insurance Scheme-LGIS.

Staff from the City of Nedlands estimate they have saved $ 266,000 in premiums in four years while the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Councils saved $ 400.000 off its yearly LGIS bill after getting cheaper quotes from other insurances.

Cambridge Mayor Keri Shannon told the POST that LGIS member councils could save about 30% off their premiums by leaving the LGIS.

Fremantle is not exactly swimming in money, so if the City could save hundreds of thousands of dollars that would be great.

Roel Loopers

 

Comments Off on CAN FREMANTLE CITY SAVE ON INSURANCES?

WHAT IS FAIR PAYMENT FOR MAYORS?

Posted in city of fremantle, councils, local government, western australia by freoview on March 19, 2017

The Sunday Times reports today that seven out of the twenty-eight metropolitan mayors are ‘moonlighting’ and have other jobs.

Local government is not intended to be a full-time job for Mayors and Councillors but the workload is significant as I know from observing the huge number of hours Mayor Brad Pettitt and most Councillors spend on looking after Fremantle.

For the Freo Mayor it is a full-time job with additional local government work at the Heritage Council for which he annually receives $ 9,000 in addition to the Mayor’s payment of around $ 140,000. Correct me if I am wrong as I can’t find the exact amount.

But the City of Swan Mayor does only two days full time at council there and received nearly $ 140,000 per year, while Jim O’Neill, the Mayor of East Fremantle gets $ 43,000 for 25 hours a week and works another 45 hours per week as deputy-principal of the Willeton Senior High School.

I believe elected members should get properly paid as many of them spend the equivalent of full-time job hours on serving the community.

Roel Lopers

HERITAGE AND DENSITY NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, councils, development, heritage by freoview on November 23, 2016

After my previous post about the Atwell Arcade development and previous posts about my objections to the Notre Dame University proposal for the West End, and my reservations about the height of the Quest Hotel, and the general lack of creativity of new buildings in Fremantle’s CBD, it is interesting to read in the West Australian today the opinion of heritage architect Philip Griffiths, who spoke at a Future Bayswater forum.

Griffiths told the audience that respecting heritage and promoting local development are not mutually exclusive, and mentioned the City of Fremantle as a local government that got a lot smarter about preserving heritage while encouraging well-designed density. I believe the well-design part of that sentence is controversial as Freo is mainly getting mediocrity in design.

Heritage is a reason to be careful about how we develop because we don’t want to create a sterile town, but it is not a reason not to do anything, the architect said. That should be a very important consideration for the City of Fremantle because so far we are getting boring new buildings!

According to the Property Council of WA there is strong support for medium and higher-density apartments near public transport hubs and in the inner city.

I personally have no issue with higher-density in appropriate locations around Fremantle and in the east CBD but somehow we need to give more power to the Design Advisory Panel, and planning rules need to address the visual impact of new buildings better, so that we can get very good and outstanding buildings, not the bland and boring ones that are being built and proposed now.

Creating a new modern part in inner city Fremantle is in my opinion desirable as it means many more people will live in the CBD and that will encourage new traders, bars, etc to open up shop and make Freo more vibrant, but we need to get great architecture!

Roel Loopers

Comments Off on HERITAGE AND DENSITY NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE

CHANGES AT THE TOP IN FREMANTLE CITY

There is quite a bit going on within the City of Fremantle administration with new jobs advertised weekly and new people taking up important positions, with new CEO Phil StJohn taking up his role officially in July this years

At Council meeting last night I noticed for the first time Graham Tattersall, the new Director of Infrastructure and Project Delivery, while Marisa Spaziani who was the Director of Community Development is now heading the new People and Culture Department. Her old job has been advertised, so someone new will take over there soon.

I have no idea what that new department will be doing as Pete Stone only recently became the new director of the Department of Culture&The Arts, so it looks as if there is a duplication of services there as we have two departments responsible for culture. And keep in mind that directors at the City of Fremantle receive a payment around $ 240,000 per annum, so adding new directors is costing a lot of ratepayers’ money!

The Festivals Coordinator position, long held by Alex Marshall, also has been advertised. I don’t know if Marshall has been promoted or left Freo City, with all the changes occurring in his field and the Fremantle Festival moving to a fully curated festival.

At Council the committees now have new and more elaborate names but the Special Projects Committee does no longer have their meetings in public and that is a shame. One would think that special projects of new innovative ideas and long-term city planning are especially of interest to the community and the COF should embrace community participation and ideas.

It would also be nice if the City put out media releases about personnel changes at top-level as the public should know who get’s these extremely well-paid jobs and what they did before they came to Freo.

It would also be good to be informed who has been appointed as the external project manager for the Fremantle Oval project.

Roel Loopers

COMMUNITY A PRIORITY FOR NEW CITY DEVELOPMENT

Two interesting articles about city development in the West Australian property section drew my attention this morning.

The first one “Giving residents first priority” is something I have been calling for for many years, as I believe proper community consultation about new development at the earliest possible stage will take a lot of negativity out of the process, and does not force community groups to be reactive when it is often too late, and subsequently being branded as nay-sayers.

The West reports that RobertsDay‘s studio leader Duane Cole said “Developers tapping into  a community’s values and culture should start with genuine collaboration to build trust.”

Duane Cole told the West “…residents needed to be first in the process, not an afterthought.” and I could not agree more with that sentiment.

I do realise that Councils and developers might be reluctant to take this on as often the NIMBY attitude makes collaboration with the community difficult and frustrating, but building resentment by ignoring the wishes of the community is definitely not the way to go.

The second article is by Dr. Anthony Duckworth-Smith of the Australian Urban Design Research Centre in Perth who writes that AUDR has been working with the City of Fremantle to explore ways of finding the right balance for infill.

Duckworth Smith writes in the West that if Fremantle wants to keep its diverse social mix it should be looking at building smaller homes in suburban areas, because in the past two decades the vast majority of new homes in Fremante were four or more bedrooms, although households have become smaller and more diverse.

He warns however that the suitability for small houses is limited and does not cater for those who want to own. a house.

Modified local planning and design guide lines that respect the character of suburban areas could be developed to achieve urban infill the community accepts.

The City of Fremantle is willing to lead to find solutions to fill the gap between single residential and high density apartment buildings, Duckworth-Smith writes.

I believe that good infill in suitable targeted areas is the way forward, not just random infill and higher density because a property becomes available for development. That requires long-term planning and a vision for the ‘burbs’.

It has become quite clear that especially in older character suburbs many residents are against substantial change, infill, high density and medium and high rise buildings. That does not make the task for local and state government any easier. Some people believe the urban sprawl is inevitable to continue the great Australian dream of owning a large house with front and back garden, even when we have limited water supplies and urban sprawl is very expensive because it requires ever expanding roads, rail, power, water and gas to suburbs many tens of kilometres away from the CBD. This of course also causes traffic nightmares during peak hours.

Like with most things in life there are no easy solutions that will please and satisfy everyone, but I believe tough decisions have to be made now because future generations will suffer from the lack of foresight and leadership of our state and local governments.

Roel Loopers

Comments Off on COMMUNITY A PRIORITY FOR NEW CITY DEVELOPMENT

COUNCIL GIFTS A PROBLEM FOR QUORUM

Posted in city of fremantle, councils, local government, western australia by freoview on July 25, 2016

WA Today reports that councils in WA have problems getting a quorum at Council and committee meetings because of the new gift disclosure rules by the State Government.

I believe this is very important for Fremantle as Councillors will be asked to consider events applications, sponsorships, reduction of fees, etc. and their attendance of previous events might jeopardise their ability to perform the duty and vote on these matters.

As I wrote in a previous post I believe Fremantle Council should stop accepting all complimentary tickets and pay for them instead, so that a conflict of interest no longer applies.

If the Mayor or other members open or speak at an event that should not be considered free entry and no disclosure should have to be made.

The updated gift register of the City of Fremantle shows the tickets accepted by Councillors were not expensive gifts, so why can’t COF budget for a few thousand dollars a year to accommodate members fulfilling their duty and going to events to monitor what is going on.

It is not good local government to end up with committees and ordinary council not having a quorum, so the City needs to be proactive to prevent this from happening.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE RATES AVERAGE IN PERTH METRO

Posted in city of fremantle, councils, local government, real estate, western australia by freoview on June 18, 2016

The West Australian today compares, in an ‘exclusive’, council rates in the Perth metro area, and the good news is that Fremantle is only at number 13 of the 29 councils.

The average residential rates in 2015-2016 in Fremantle were $ 1,647.78 and in East Fremantle, that is number 10 on the list $ 1,810.65.

Melville is 17th with $ 1,599.16 and Cockburn comes in as 25th with just $ 1,460.07.

As West reporter Kate Emery rightly points out rates are affected by house prices and it is difficult to compare council rates because councils use different ways of calculating rates.

Roel Loopers

 

COMPARE COUNCILS ON MY COUNCIL WEBSITE

Posted in city of fremantle, councils, local government, western australia by freoview on April 30, 2016

The WA State Government has a new My Council website where we can compare and see how our councils are doing. Nice to see the City of Fremantle page has one of my photos of Bathers Beach on it.

So I now know that the Fremantle area is 19 square kilometres small, that we have a population of 30,883 and 19,777 electors.

Fremantle’s revenue is $ 71,426,672 and its operating expenditure $ 71,070,614.

The total value of assets of the City of Fremantle is $ 486,608,885.

Rates are always a discussion point so I compared rates in the area and the recent rate increases were:

Fremantle 6%, Cockburn 11%, Mosman Park 5%, Cottesloe 5%, East Fremantle 6%, Melville 40%(is that a typo?), Mandurah 7%, Rockingham 10%.

The website is: mycouncil.wa.gov.au

Roel Loopers

%d bloggers like this: